Archive for September, 2013

How do I Become an Expert?

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Organizations depend on people who have “deep smarts”—business-critical expertise, built up through years of experience, which helps them make wise, swift decisions about both strategy and tactics. These mavens may be technical wizards, risk managers, top salespeople or operations troubleshooters, but they are all the “go-to” people for a given type of knowledge in their organizations.

Most Experts don’t even recognize that they are the experts. Because they’ve built their expertise on years of experience, research and sometimes just plain repetitiveness, it now is just part of “who I am” and “what I do.” Its second nature to them and they may be surprised that others don’t have the same level of knowledge. This makes them a bit testy at times. Yet Experts are usually generous in giving advice.

Their knowledge isn’t easy to pass on. Several professions build apprenticeships into their training systems: Doctors, for instance, learn on the job as interns and residents, under the close guidance of attending physicians, before practicing on their own. But many other professions have no such path. You’re responsible for your own development. You must acquire the knowledge in a different way to become the “go to” person.

  • Pay attention to what your organization and profession value. What are the trends that are impacting your organization and profession?
  • Hone your questions. Are you asking good diagnostic questions to understand complex problems?
  • Ask about and take steps to find out what you don’t know. Don’t wait for a training program; Create your own unique advisors and resources rather than the standard curriculum.
  • Listen more than you speak. Keep a log; don’t just rely on your memory.
  • Recognized patterns from experience of both successful and failed applied solutions.
  • Create your reputation by your willingness to share what you are learning.  Speak up at meetings. Engage others in the conversations. Ask for others’ perspectives to understand and deepen your own knowledge.

And most importantly, observe how experts present themselves, not as know-it-alls, but as perpetual learners.