The Danger of Knowing


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Knowledge and expertise are things we all seek. Whether it’s in our area of business, our golf game, a musical instrument, cooking, cleaning, raising kids…whatever our passion, we strive for excellence and expertise.

Sometimes that expertise stops us cold.

The problem with being an expert is that in some cases you don’t know what you don’t know. You get so good at one area that you assume you can apply what you know to another similar area. Uh oh.

Take for example the western horsewoman who decides to ride an English dressage horse. Some things are the same – there’s a horse and a saddle…oops, the saddle is different. Still there’s a horse and riding is riding right? Not really. There is some overlap, and an expert rider will learn more quickly than a novice…but there is learning to be done. Most importantly – not everything the western rider knows will apply to the English style horse. And vice versa.

Or take the expert in high tech software development who decides to open his or her own small software shop. All that technical expertise will help, but it won’t be enough. That software expert has to have an open mind, to be ready to learn as a newbie, not just charge on as an expert in product development. There is, after all, a business to run. And now matter how much you know about managing a software product to the market – it doesn’t cover what you need to know about running the business.

Sometimes we’re applying our expertise to something really similar…say our software expert is focusing on services as a business. That expert knows a lot about their customers, their requirements, the market at large. But they don’t know anything about delivering services. If that expert applies his or her knowledge of software to a services business and follows the same patterns as in developing software…success is doubtful.

Why? Because required expertise changes with each situation.

We may be an expert today, but tomorrow we’ll need to know more – even if we’re in our same field of experience. If we’re shifting even slightly in scope or focus – then we are no longer experts. Yes, we may have knowledge to leverage, but we also need new inputs to create success.

In our fast moving economy, I would submit that no expertise is long lasting. Things change too quickly for anyone to know it all for very long. That’s why I’m so adamant about getting outside of our businesses and knowns…even as experts.

A real expert understands one fundamental truth. The more we know, the more we need to learn.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Rebel Brown
Rebel Brown consistently challenges the status quo to deliver optimum solutions and high velocity growth for her clients. She combines the strategic expertise and tactical savvy of a global Corporate Strategy, Launch and Turnaround Expert, along with the leadership and motivational skills needed to get the job done.


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