Friday, May 9, 2014

experts on the inside

There is a running joke in organizations (at least the ones of which I have been a part) that the best way to get your point across is to bring in an expert on the subject...and that what constitutes expertise is living 50 miles or more away from the organization.  What really constitutes an "expert" on such topics as leadership, change, development, marketing, etc?  Is it it the number of articles or books one has is one's various it the number of positive reviews someone receives...or is it merely distance?  Obviously I say this tongue in cheek, but this week I experienced an in-house expert who did all - and more - than an "expert" from 50 miles or more away could have done.  We had tried to get three different "expert" speakers from all around the country to come and talk with our faculty on the topic of "Leadership and the Theology of the Cross" all to no avail.  As Carl Trovall and I looked at each other and kept wondering who to invite, it dawned on us that we had an expert in our midst - namely Dr. Carl Trovall.  He humbly accepted the invitation and began preparing his remarks for the faculty retreat.  And let me tell you, he did an incredible job.  The only thing another "expert" would have brought with them was the fact that they were coming from 50 miles away or farther.  The Concordia University Texas faculty truly benefited by our own expert on the inside.

So what does this mean for us who lead groups and organizations?  How might we make more use of our own experts - and what might be some of the pitfalls?  Here's my thoughts:

  • Consider who on your team has an expertise - and invite them to share that with your group
  • Realize that part of the expertise is more than just knowledge - our expert, Carl Trovall, also has the ability to speak in an engaging way - and that was actually a part of his expertise
  • Expertise should be encouraged and developed - how are you investing in your people for them to become your resident expert?
  • Encourage your resident experts to go 50 miles or more away so they can practice being that expert outside of your own organization
  • Brag about your experts to others - both within and outside of the organization.  Let their expertise become known to others.
  • Becoming an expert requires practice - let your own experts practice in front of you...and give them the grace to fail the first few times they engage
  • One of the pitfalls of the inside expert is their inability to speak truth to their peers - create a safe environment for that to happen on some level
  • Outside experts can help hold us accountable to action plans (because we have spent money on them).  Build a similar culture of accountability within your organization so that inside experts can do the same
  • Just as you would pay an expert who traveled 50 miles or more to your site, find a way to reward your inside expert - it could be remuneration, it could be a gift card, it could be time off, it could be additional resources, and it SHOULD be a note of thanks from your and others
Who are your inside experts - go to them today, tell them you consider them to be that, and put them in a position make it a reality sooner rather than later.

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