Why being a rebel is better than being a Subject Matter Expert

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Subject Matter Experts. They are the ones we immediately look for and to when trying to understand a business problem, when we need to identify those in the business who can help with change we turn to them. We sometimes want to reward them with the Process Champion sheriff badge and give them a corral in the shape of a COE. Saddle up !

The trouble with SMEs is that they are invariably as stuck in their ways as any of us are. They know their part of business inside out for sure, to the letter in fact sometimes, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Because it invites constraint, lack of creative thinking, rigidity. Comfort.

The screen is perceived to be the window to their business world and their responsibilities are 1028 x 624 in size. For some that’s all they want. You ever seen the scifi film “Cube” ? It’s a bit like that, if you want to get out you’ll die trying, and that’s why people don’t want to know what’s beyond their borders. Responsibility and accountability is scary as hell.

Better the Devil you know, and he’s in the cubicle with you handing you the next application form to process.

Cynical maybe, but having worked through the ranks that’s sometimes how life is on the coal face.

The trick has always been to spot the ones bending and breaking the rules. They’re the ones that will champion the business to change. Not SMEs. I’m not referring to the Nick Leesons (although they can still teach us a thing or three about lack of control) but we always ask for SMEs “because we’ve always done it this way” when doing change……

Rebels are rule-benders and rule-breakers who are more tuned into the art of the possible. Those that spot workarounds and backdoors in systems to make them work better in a mundane role. Those who challenge their supervisors because they know how the process works better than they do. Those who are told they can’t do something because the company structure says so but still push forward.

Seek them out as the real champions of your business change initiative and leave the SMEs to their window gazing.

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Republished with author's permission from original post.

Theo Priestley
Theo Priestley is Vice President and Chief Evangelist at Software AG, responsible for enabling the marketing and voice of the industry's leading Business Process, Big Data/ In-Memory/ Complex Event Processing, Integration and Transaction suite of platforms. Theo writes for several technology and business related sites including his own successful blog IT Redux. When he isn't evangelizing he's playing videogames, collecting comics and takes the odd photo now and then. Theo was previously an independent industry analyst and successful enterprise transformation consultant.

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