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.

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