Expert Advice
We are bombarded by experts, from the weatherman to the executive coach, the boardroom-name-consultant to the office busy-body, the public-relations overseer to the crisis manager. Don’t know about you, but many times the value is merely perceived, not realized. Unfortunately, we all have historical experiences with: the ERP system that was going to transform the business; the ROI never achieved; the project that never ended; the consultants who never left. Their objective was…to perpetuate their own cash flow.

I remember a “big four” accounting firm that came out with full-page advertisements in the WSJ extolling the virtues of that 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley legislation that was (purportedly) going to preserve the economics and integrity of the capital markets. Again, don’t know about you, but I always glanced to the bottom of the ad looking for the small print that said…“and we’re making a “$#}&-pot” full of money promoting it”! The leading-edge companies quickly took their SOX efforts in-house, for they knew the business process experts were their own internal resources, not the self-proclaimed expert outsiders.

These leading-edge companies, and some of the rest of us, finally got fed up.

The time and place for “experts” does exist, but I know I’m not alone in lamenting the dependency curse, the intellectual laziness that can befall key players in the best of organizations, the subsequent excuses, the “blame-game.” For the outside experts (finally) go away, and while you have their study, project documentation, the alleged “knowledge transfer” — YOU subsequently owned the responsibility to answer for the shortcomings, the promises unfulfilled. The accountability for those shortcomings — became yours.

We all know there is a time and place for external assistance: to do things the organization has the identified need for, but neither the time nor the appropriate resources to cover each one-time-problem/expertise gap. So you carefully do the business case, selection, funding, project management, and so on, to optimally get the need solved… “on time and on budget.” And you own it…cuz when the “experts” go away, they own nothing…

The disease is–that while we continue to be bombarded by “the experts,” we do get influenced to feel: the doubt-creep, the what-if-there’s-something-to-it, and we forget the last time we gave in to the promises, the bamboozle, the over-promised results…that never showed up. We hear about government dependency, the nanny-state, the numerous and overlapping programs doled out by the “guvment,” funded by us, the tax-payers. And we simply cannot let that dependency seep into our own lives, our businesses and institutions, to negatively diminish our own ambition, resolve, and production—by eerily-similar, lazy dependence upon “experts.”

Let’s reclaim our strengths, remember how we got here, what it took, the lessons-learned from experience, and “belly-up to the bar” with personal resolve and accountability.

We have our experiences, our knowledge, our networks, our people…and we need all cylinders firing in sequence, all working to achieve—to produce results…better, faster, cheaper, smarter.

We are the experts.

One last thought, from someone else far more insightful (and inspiring) than my own brain’s quote-ability—on the relationship of an idea from an expert vs. that of a leader:

It is, after all, the responsibility of the expert to operate the familiar, and that of the leader to transcend it.” (Henry A. Kissinger)