About having experts and being one

In my experience working in research and development. I have seen that many times exists a small ‘chasm’ between technical people and non-technical people. The following short comedy sketch gives an example of this:

The first time I saw the clip, I quickly interpreted the sketch as a technical person: why do you have an expert if you just don’t listen to him?. But after a few moments, I realize that, although I may be correct in general, there are always 2 sides. I personally have to be careful in take a few minutes to understand the other side (at the end, I do have a technical background). In this particular case, I also think that expert should make a better effort to explain why something is feasible or not.

Of course, the sketch uses extreme examples to make a point and being funny. I am extrapolating the situation in the video to a common situation, and as usual, the real word is not black or white. So the problem arises due to the different tones of grey. So now, I want to share here my thoughts about this relationship between what I have called ‘technical’ and ‘non-technical’ people:

The ‘non-technical’ side: which in the video is shown by a client that asks for something impossible, and company members that only want to pleasure the client. Now, it is obvious (I think) that discrediting colleagues is not a good idea and does not indicate good company culture. If something is not clear or there are doubts, it can always be discussed in another moment to look for new and different approaches. At the end of the day, nobody expects anybody to know every single detail by heart (and that will only led to mistakes). Managing customer expectation is something that I find tricky because on one hand you want to deliver and be as helpful as you can, but on the other hand you have to say ‘no’ to some things (for example, if something is impossible in this physical universe, that is something to say no).

The technical side (the expert): the definition of being an expert is that you know more about a topic than the rest (at least in general). Therefore, being able to explain thinks like technical challenges or limitations is expected from you. The rest of the people will very likely know less than you, so you can be sure that explaining topic in your field of expertise is something you will do a lot. Therefore, you must be very good at it for two reasons: 1- To being able to deliver your message, 2- To show that you are truly an expert and not somebody who thinks that is an expert.
Both points are crucial, if I don’t understand you, or think that you may not be as good as you claim, that can quickly lead to not trust you and the company, which is quite bad for business.

So once you put the topic of the video into the real world, the gray tones start to show up. At the end, my opinion is that all comes down to empathy. There is no other way to move the world forward than understanding each others. So putting ourselves in the place of the other person and finding ways to be efficient delivering our message is extremely important.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *