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Is it Better to be an Expert or to Know How to Become an Expert?

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This topic contains 39 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Thomas Whitney 7 years, 3 months ago.

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  • #53979

    Doug Von Feldt
    Participant

    I was recently thinking about the idea of being an expert at something. I recently read a book called “Think Better” by Tim Hurson that talks about how to develop better ideas around innovation. What I wrote in my Innovation Journal about this was this question: “Is it better to be an expert at something or to know how to become an expert at something?” In other words, what’s more important, being the expert or knowing the process to become an expert.

    Many people become an expert at something because they spend a lot of time doing “the thing”. Maybe they had a plan but many times they woke up and found they were the expert after doing it for 20 years. In today’s world, industries, jobs, and needs change constantly and we find that what we know today is not relevant just a few years down the road. For example what happens if a new technology or opportunity arises that requires you or your company to learn something new very quickly. If you don’t have a process to make that happen how will you get there? Superstars are good at making these kind of changes but chances are they have an informal process that they learned along the way somehow. But what about the rest of the organization or aren’t the superstars? What if your job or fate of your department depended on becoming an expert in an area in 3 months, what would you do? Hiring a consultant is not the answer if that was what you were thinking. That is only a short term fix focused on the leaves and doesn’t get to the root which is where the fix needs to be.

    The answer for me is that being the expert is important today to be useful, but what is more important is to know how to be an expert so that I can stay useful in the future. This applies to people as well as organizations who need to be more innovative around products and services.

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    #192427

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @Doug-Von-Feldt – Both. I’ve known those who were perpetual students (whether actually enrolled in studies or stuck in “analysis paralysis”) and never solve problems so that they can move on. So just knowing how to learn is insufficient, although as you identify it is necessary with as much change as happens now.
    Likewise, an expert today is a dinosaur tomorrow due to technology advancements.
    One could fold continual learning as an attribute to being an expert (this is a characteristic of true professionals), then just being an expert would be sufficient, but I don’t think this is a commonly accepted attribute.
    Just my opinion.

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    #192432

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    Based on my experience, your arguments and conclusions are based on a definition of “expert” that has little to do with the real world. The portrait you paint of an expert is that of a person who is extremely capable with respect to handling the job at hand and whose knowledge is, for the most part, frozen with respect to growth or change. In my field an expert is someone who has extreme expertise with respect to the job at hand, is aware of the changing nature of their field and the work they do, and expends time and effort not only staying abreast of current activities but also learning new things which may or may not be of value at a later date. Under these circumstances your question has no meaning because an expert is one who has extreme expertise with respect to something and who also knows how to maintain that skill level – that is, they are an expert and they know the process for becoming and remaining one.

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    #192433

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    @Doug-Von-Feldt What I just wrote in my Innovation Journal (gag) is “don’t read this book by Tim Hurson, it appears to make people ponder their naval and ask really dumb questions”.

    Doug, I would advise not to post when high on tripe.

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    #192440

    Ravi Prakash B
    Participant

    The output of the knowledge to become an expert shall transform into being an expert. If one knows the process to become an expert and does not put this into practice, then the knowledge is useless.
    This depends on the individual weather he is called as an expert. There are people with tons of experience and still cannot be called as experts. Some with minimal experience is called as an expert and teams depend on him. What i am trying to say is that experience is not alone sufficient to become an expert.
    All those who are called as expert actually know the process to become an expert. Other wise they cannot become experts.
    I would like to add another thing to the question, which is more appropriate in today’s world.

    Know the process to become an expert
    Become an expert and
    Project that you are an expert.
    I have added the third part because, i know of many experts who remain in the sidelines. If you are an expert you must project it. The world has no business to recognize you as an expert unless you are sure of it.

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    #192444

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    @brprakash Amen brother. A corollary to your insight – most who proclaim themselves to be an expert aren’t.

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    #192446

    Doug Von Feldt
    Participant

    I like how Henry Ford thought about experts. He wrote this in his 1922 book, My Life and My Work (page 86).

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    #192447

    Doug Von Feldt
    Participant

    I like how Henry Ford thought about experts. He wrote this in his 1922 book, My Life and My Work (page 86). “None of our men are ‘experts’. We have most unfortunately found it necessary to get rid of a man as soon as he thinks himself an expert – because no one ever considers himself an expert if he really knows his job. ….. The moment one gets into the ‘expert’ state of mind a great number of things become impossible.” We all must be willing to learn and change because that is what an expert must do to remain the expert. Sometimes though that gets difficult to do.

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    #192480

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    reply

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    #192483

    Brad Petersen
    Participant

    I would agree with you. If I were looking for an employee I would value most the skill and ability to learn. Learning being defined as the ability to recieve new information and then apply that knowledge in a valuable way. I consider an “Expert” as someone who is able to problem solve effectively and quickly in a given field. In a manufacturing setting we typically need problem solving quickly, thus we call in the expert. Someone who has so much experience in a given area that he is able to quickly learn how to best solve the issue. I see learning to be an expert as almost part of the definition of expert itself!

    Example: One may be called an expert rock climber not soley because he has climbing a large number of routes but because he has the experience that allows him to qucikly solve and climb a route, his fine tuned climbing skills (here the ability to learn in a quickly changing industry) as the base for his ability. On the flip side many have climbed some of the tallest mountains in world while being aided, guided and often carried up or down the mountain (here someone who can follow and repeat a process to the T fomr years of experience but is little help when a new issue arises.

    All of the sudden we participate in an industry where the importance of WHAT you learned and what you DO know is secondary to HOW you learn and what you CAN know.

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    #192528

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @rbutler You are a one of a kind. I love reading your posts but it is like listening to Dennis Miller. I only understand about 50% of it but the logic and the sound of it are great.

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    #192530

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @mike-carnell – Sprinkle Robert’s posts liberally with “y’alls” and “hey, der’s” and it’ll make more sense to you.

    BTW – The board should get more interesting for the next few weeks, don’tcha think?

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    #192543

    Robert Butler
    Participant

    Well hey der Mike, let’s see if this helps. Ya know, as the crow flies that bita OP jawin’ jes’ don’t get much distance. If y’all know yur business and if y’all know whut ya hafta do ta keep on doin’ yur business then y’all know ya know an’ so’s ebuddy else an’ them’s the one’s ‘ll call fur ya ’cause yur the expurt, ya know.

    Now if this bita splainin’ ain’t as clear as gettin’ chewed up by a caiyotee an’ spit over a cliff then I guess I don’t know whut is. Izzat tellin’ ’em er whut MBBinWI????

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    #192544

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @rbutler – ROTFLMFAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Robert, I didn’t know you had it in you. I’m now truly impressed, and humbled to the core.

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    #192555

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @rbutler Thanks. Now I get it. I didn’t realize you spoke southern. It isn’t the accent that is the issue. You have a much different logic than I do and I really enjoy reading the logic in your posts. Don’t pay a lot of attention to MBBinWI. He is from WI and who wants to sound like that?

    Actually when I was doing some training in Chile they had a guy who was a Spanish/English interpreter. After the first week they had to advertise for a Spanish/Texan interpreter. Found one and it worked great

    @MBBinWI You were the one posting words like snarky. Wtf is that?

    It will get interesting when the pain subsides and boredom sets in. “Three Great Alabama Icons” by Drive By Truckers will only entertain you for so long.

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    #192559

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @mike-carnell – been quiet today, too quiet…

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    #192562

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    @mike-carnell. No Drive By Truckers today. Listened to to That Smell by Lynyrd turned up to 11 about a dozen times before my better judgement returned home. Then Steve Earle and Jack White intertwined for about 5 hours at about 11 into some Klipsch Lou Reed headphones (highly rated by me, I hope Lou doesn’t mind the Southern thang going on in them). Kind of a country blues rock and roll kind of thing perfect for today. Just watched it might get loud for about the 10th time this evening.

    DBT sounds like a great way to start tomorrow Thanks for the reminder.

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    #192563

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @stanmikel Into old stuff here like the Amazing Rhythm Aces and some David Allen Coe. Probably a lot less quality sound since it is coming out of my computer.

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    #192571

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    @mike-carnell Jimi’s Blues album about six times today (I seem to be in a funk). Try an iPod, not quite McIntosh and Klipsch cornerhorns, but not bad.

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    #192574

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @mike-carnell @stanmikel – digital is digital, it all goes into what is converting it from a signal into actual sound waves. Regardless of what you use, it will be better if it uses noise cancelling, that way you hear what was intended.

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    #192682

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @MBBinWI If that is true then why is there such a range in the price of stereo equipment and speakers?

    @stanmikel This is starting to sound a little OCD with the repetition thing going on. I think you might want to have someone remove the sharp objects from the room and deliver your food with only a spoon.

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    #192689

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @mike-carnell – I’ve had some amazing sound come from a cd on a computer – using Koss noise cancelling over ear headphones. Mostly comes down to having sufficient power to drive whatever speakers are used. Other than that, it’s filtering (which has subsided in importance with the conversion from analog to digital) and features for stereos – and it’s build construction and quality on speakers. Lighter weight but more rigid speaker materials provide more accurate replication of the original signal. I heard a “sound wall” some time ago and it was awesome. Seemed like it was just sound reflecting off the wall, but was actually the wall being used as a speaker. Because the whole surface was reactive, any range of wave could be created dynamically (instead of tweeters being really tiny and woofers being really massive, this could do all sizes and do so over different positions across the surface).

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    #192697

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @MBBinWI The biggest advantage I get from my noise cancelling headphones is I can put them on when I get on an airplane and the person next to me has to talk to someone else.

    I keep a couple kids things on there in case I end up next to someones child.

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    #192701

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @stanmikel Here is some good stuff if you haven’t heard it in a while – Carlos Santana. Like that old song Foo Foo.

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    #192762

    gomezadams
    Member

    There are no experts!
    Only novices in advancing stages of development.

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    #192767

    MBBinWI
    Participant

    @spazwhatsup – Oh, I heartily disagree. I think that I’m an expert at many things – tying my shoes, eating with a fork, knife, and spoon, etc. If your point is that we all can learn more and become better people, then yes, I agree.

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    #192788

    gomezadams
    Member

    Thats my point. We never stop growing and learning.
    We should have the humility to recognize this.
    ps Could you send me a graphic on how you tie your laces?
    Thing has a thing about the sheepshank knot.

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    #192838

    Stevo
    Member

    I like nothing better then to spend time around experts; it always makes me feel smarter. Reminds me of a time a couple years back I had the opportunity to dine with a so called expert and his eye-candy. By the end of dinner, I had more respect for the eye-candy, at least she knew who she really was.

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    #192839

    Stan Mikel
    Member

    Stevo, tell the truth. You only liked her because she was dressed like a hooker.

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    #192842

    Stevo
    Member

    I admit nothing. But like i said, she knew who she really was.

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    #192845

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @Stevo It is really good to see you back on the forum. We really need more of your very different point of view. As Steven Wright says “you skate on the other side of the ice.”

    There is a saying that I love “Success means only one thing. Living life on your own terms.” It sounds like she was living life on her own terms. Not much wrong with that. Was this at an event in Miami?

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    #192849

    Stevo
    Member

    I’m neither confirming nor denying if it was in Miami.

    It’s good to be back. Hectic few months, you know how rehab is…

    I’m in a new city now, so unfortunately you guys (and girls) will be my social network for a while (until I find out where the cool kids hang out)

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    #192851

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @Stevo You aren’t in a new city. You’re just in a different northern city and there isn’t much difference in them. Is there something you don’t understand about the southern part of the US doesn’t get as cold as the northern part – generally.

    I thought I saw you in Miami. Maybe not. If you ask Darth he will conjure up more chair throwing stories so I may have been so busy it might not have been you.

    Nycz was definately dancing on the tables though. I didn’t see it but I heard about it.

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    #192875

    Thomas Whitney
    Member

    Well, I do not consider myself an expert at anything but I think I might be running the risk that people will say I am an expert at having my wife say I am a nice guy and that we are soul mates in our relationship. Anyone who knows me in the business world would not say I am a nice guy nor very good at developing business relationships. I don’t know what it is I do so often to make my wife say such things, but she does. I do know this, I am extremely passionate about being her soul mate and making her happy. I do not plan how to do this, nor do I read “How To Make Your Relationship Better” books.

    I am passionate about the profession I have chosen. I am told I am very good at what I do and some comments lead me to believe some people think I am an “expert” in this field. I have never planned how to be an expert in my field nor how to be better at my profession or more knowledgeable about my profession, nor do I read books on the subject of my profession.

    The term “expert” is a title. If you want the title as an expert, you will never be an expert. If you are totally passionate about what you do and do what you do because of who you are and the passion you possess for what you do, you run the risk of people titling you as an expert.

    Not a rant but a philosophical musing…..

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    #192896

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @twhitney I left this alone for as long as I can. Did you show this to her? It looks like you did something and you are in deep sh*t so you generated this completly obsequious post to save your butt.

    It’s either that or you want to take your Kayak out fishing this weekend.

    Actually if you are going to be in Houston this weekend I need to change my flight to somewhere else – actually anywhere else. Not doing the lazer thing.

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    #192898

    Thomas Whitney
    Member

    @mike-carnell Actually she is making me make her a full lobster dinner tonight to prove the point of making her happy.
    My laser doesn’t work, so you are safe. Canadians and Cubans are OK anyway if you don’t talk on your cell phone while driving.

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    #192903

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @twhitney Is this for real or are you makeing this stuff up? My BS detector is starting to twitch.

    I like that idea of the laser not working.

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    #192908

    Thomas Whitney
    Member

    @mike-carnell Mike, it may seem BS to you but I do treat my wife this well. $132.58 for 3 lobsters (there is 3 people) and I cook, them and crack them open for her so she just gets the lobster and I make all the trimmings.
    I’ve never been home enough not to treat her well when I am. In 31 yrs of marriage, my home time has been about 10 yrs.

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    #192910

    Mike Carnell
    Participant

    @twhitney I apologize if I made it sound like I thought it was BS. It does sound like a kinder and gentler Tom Whitney than I am used to. Maybe even getting in touch with your feminine side? That where those pink X’s came from?

    Congratulations on the 31 years.

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    #192916

    Thomas Whitney
    Member

    @mike-carnell I accept the apology, but be assured I was not offended. It is our gift and our profession to detect when something is said that does not fit the data we have at hand. Never thought of the pink X thing before but maybe that why this is my favorite Shainin X?!

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