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April 17, 2012

Know when to discard experts

If you spend any time on this site, you know I’m pretty big on engaging others into solving problems. That’s because, in my experience, teams are smarter than individuals.

But there’s also value in thinking about how you compose your teams. While experts are helpful in some settings, such as when you’ve already made some progress in your analysis, (i.e. on the right side of your logic trees), they are not so helpful at the beginning. That’s because they’re not ‘dumb’ enough.

In some settings, discard experts

In the early stage of a diagnostic or a quest for a solution, you want to be as collectively exhaustive as possible; that is, strive to maximize / refuse to satisfice. The only way to do this is to relax assumptions, to stop thinking in the same way as everyone does in that knowledge area.

This works better if you’re a novice. In fact, one can argue that this works only if you’re a novice. And this brings us to another finding: when it comes to finding solutions, experts are so conditioned in their thinking that they will only produce incremental solutions; they won’t generate truly innovative ones.

Now, I’m not arguing against using experts; I’m arguing that you should know when to use their help. They are just another tool in your tool box, just make sure that you use them for the right task.

One Comment on “Know when to discard experts

S
May 1, 2012 at 14:01

Arnaud,
Interestingly, I was writing a very similar post today, regarding past experiences and using “experts”..

I’m of the mind that the majority of information one wishes to be gleaned from past experience AND “experts” (presumably they have had some “result” that you seek to “reproduce”/”emulate”) is USELESS after a point.

It may be best to evaluate WHY your “problem” arose WITHIN You, and after this point you will be able to determine a set of actions that may lead to a novel situation-assess state, or a set of questions, adaptable enough to produce the “how” answers sought.

“Experts” bring to the table an assortment of ‘after-the-fact’ assumptions from mythical experiences–attributing some/all/parts of their behavior to experiences often outside of their range of direct action…and likewise, discarding the power of their actions, claiming them to be related external events.

I attribute this behavior in MY OWN thinking to the Ego’s self-aggrandizing propensity. You can guess at the Why of “those experts’” mal-attributions.

Personal conclusion: you can gain inspiration from yourself…Going to experts is a kind of self-congratulation,an act of vanity, mutual masturbation of egos. How much can you gain from supporting a biological function like this? Instead, I think you become more lopsided with input from experts; consumed with praising their pattern of solutions, all largely based on mostly extant expiriential – SUBJECTIVE assertions on the nature of their “result”.

The EGO confuses us when it says “since I am a human with similar traits like this expert and I am special, I too must be able to reproduce the results of that expert”. This fallacy creates confusion — loops — which many thinkers will simply chase like a raindrop in a storm.

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