Everyone’s an expert

It never fails to amaze me when laymen don’t ask or request but dictate that experts do their jobs in a specific way. Whether it’s a PHB (Pointy-Haired Boss or Philosophiae Baccalaureus) who thinks their degree in management also makes them an expert in computer network engineering, student politicians who think they understand multi-billion-dollar university finances, or some whiny bitch in the media demanding not just action but specific detailed courses of action on matters well beyond their understanding, too many people think they can do an expert’s job better just because they can offer mostly unqualified criticism.

It’s easy for laymen to think they’ve become experts by simply hiring one. They choose to selectively recognize an expert’s title but not their position or abilities. They criticize processes and intermediate products, instead of letting experts do their job. They don’t realize the output will be crap if it is created in their technically demented way instead of how it should be done. They forget that their overzealous micromanagement wastes not only their own time and money, but that of the experts’ too.

Even more disturbing, experts are hired not for knowledge or expertise but as scapegoats. Experts are good to have around when miscommunicated and impossible goals aren’t met or implemented.

In exchange for the power and control they receive, experts have a responsibility to convey their progress and interpretations of the objectives. Experts are effective in their positions only with direction and support from those who they assist.

At the same time, we must not deify experts. They’re human too and make mistakes like the rest of us. But we should not be smug when we catch their mistakes as the only reason they’re able to make them was that we can’t even do that.

While some experts may be fine with being abused as they get paid anyway, this type of treatment is a gross misuse of resources and jeopardizes their credibility. We call them "experts" because they are better than us at what they do and hence they get paid the big bucks for it. We don’t pay them big bucks to be mindless slaves.

Sadly, we don’t just do this to experts, but to our colleagues too. We may think we understand what they do and fabricate patterns to describe their work without understanding the nuances of their jobs, but that’s all they are, fabrications based on our own, possibly flawed perceptions. Not only that, but when we demand they do things our way instead of how they should be done, efficiencies are lost and we leave the impression we are divorced from reality.

Clearly communicate what you want or risk getting exactly what you asked for.

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