Friday, October 16, 2015

Beware of so-called experts

By David Ronald

Sometimes it feels that there are types of people—those claiming to be experts and those willing to believe everything that a so-called expert tells them.

And I confess that I am occasionally guilty of falling into that second category.

We are surrounded by so-called experts—people with opinions, but very little actual expertise. Often I am willing to defer to the opinions of someone speaking about a topic with confidence. Sadly, however, confidence seldom equates to actual expertise. 
 According to one dictionary definition an expert is someone possessing special skill or knowledge and trained by practice.

The key part of that definition is “trained by practice”.

So here are some thoughts on how to get the most the relationships with any consultant who you invite into your business:
  • Be a student, don’t be a follower. Consider all valid viewpoints and embrace opposing views. Seek the conflicting counsel of several experts—don’t just drink the Kool-Aid because the “expert” said to. Be a learner; a researcher, not a disciple.
  • Only take advice from those who have done what they are advising you to do successfully and often. Find practitioners, not just teachers, even if you’re eager to learn the topic. Vet your experts / consultants by results, not pontification.
  • Ensure that your decision is the product of your own conclusions. Ultimately, you know best. You were designed with a built-in intuition to sort, vet and determine what’s real from what’s counterfeit. Trust yourself.
There are good, even great, business consultants, and using them can be very helpful (if I didn’t think that we provided real value to our clients, my business partners and I would close our collaborative tomorrow). But when you use an expert, don’t automatically assume that he is smarter than you, or that they know more about your business strategy than you do, or even that their advice is necessarily true. As you work with any consultant, continue to apply your own common sense, reflect on your own experience and weigh the benefits of their recommendations.

Be like the one little kid in the story of the emperors’ new clothes; the only person in the kingdom who was willing to call out, “But mommy, he isn’t wearing any clothes.”

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