Using expertise and talking about it
Following on this morning's webinar with Victor Newman, I attended the Boston regional group of the SIKM Leaders group where Matt Moore talked about the project that he and Patrick Lambe have been running on Using Expertise. They started by collecting stories and have been in the process of conducting a survey to review how expertise is used / perceived within organizations. I find it interesting that the expertise topic was central to both of these discussions.
Matt opened with a discussion of "lost knowledge" and how that is a topic that often frames expertise and discussions around how well organizations are able to continue operating. But there are other types of expertise that are important to organizations: know who; know how; experience; memory; skills; technical. Depending on the type of organization and the situation in which it finds itself, the importance of these types will vary. There will also be differing types of risks associated with each type, with attending risk management strategies. And there will be different ways to develop and encourage development of expertise. These nuances are the subject of their survey.
In the discussion that wove around Matt's lead, many of the familiar topics and issues of expertise came up, as well as some new things that I hadn't appreciated before. It was also nice to reflect back to the idea that while experts are individuals, they exist in an ecosystem of the organization and the larger network of knowledge and experts in which they all operate. The group went down an interesting sidetrack around learning for individuals and the organization, which I think related to the earlier Victor Newman webinar. This connected to the common tension in organizations around "doing work" vs. reflecting and improving HOW work gets done. And, of course, most people reported that there is very little of the reflection happening during normal work hours. This is the kind of thing that people do at infrequent off-site meetings, or maybe in their shower or at the gym.
In developing their work, Matt and Patrick have been taking two main approaches. In the first approach, they are simply accumulating stories about expertise as used (or misused) within organizations. The Using Expertise website is mainly a reflection of those stories. In group settings, they have done Anecdote circles and used some of the Cognitive Edge (Dave Snowden) techniques to develop archetypes and characters through which they can tell more stories.
The second approach is a survey to get a broader understanding expertise within organizations. They've had over 150 responses so far, though mainly from people who are in KM roles - not surprising, given the network in which Matt and Patrick work. Matt expressed some disappointment that there aren't more samples from manufacturing industries. Matt presented some statistics from the survey so far - I anticipate that there will be more once they decide they are done collecting data. (Oh, and take the Survey on How Organisations Leverage Their Expertise, if you are willing.)
[Photo: "Expert Ationsalter" by spike55151 - This is awesome!]
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