The Strategist

How to work with experts and get the most out of it

10/04/2019 - 09:49

When you encounter problems arising in complex processes and systems, experts can accelerate your progress towards the goal.

They will answer your questions, help you determine which variables control the problem, and direct you to those parts of the system that you need to understand.

So, how to use expert help? The first rule is to stop asking them to solve your problem. Do not ask: “What is the reason?” Put the question differently, for example: “Help me understand how this works.” Let them show you the path to the resources you need to understand.

When communicating with experts, focus on a clear statement of the problem. For example, “our accountants change too often” sounds more accurate than “we have staff problems.” “We have low indicators of timeliness and completeness of deliveries” is a more accurate definition of the problem than “our sales system does not work at all.”

This way, the experts will provide you invaluable help, and you will quickly find answers to important questions. And when you win their favor, they will show all the skills and help you come to an elegant solution.

Remember that experts are also people, and they are good in their field, but, quite likely, they do not know how to solve problems.

You must use your own skills and abilities to guide them in the right direction. If they begin to speculate and brainstorm, return them to a more rigorous approach. If they say something you don’t see evidence for, help them dig deeper.

Contact them for help in deciphering technical terminology and professional slang, which are often present in discussions of any complex system.

They will help you understand how the system should function, what the information received means, or what is happening at the moment from a scientific point of view. Together with them you will understand the technical details or phenomena and will be able to succeed.

It so happens that people are strongly opposed to experts, and then the advantage is on the other side of the scale. There is a position "I will do everything myself, and be that as it may." Do not make this mistake.

Sometimes the subject of study is so complex that even good training and erudition is not enough to master it. It is at such moments that one should turn to experts. By asking the right people a few correct questions, you will save hours that you could spend reading boring technical instructions or scientific papers.

Experts can be operators and mechanics of some equipment, accountants, IT specialists, lawyers, equipment suppliers, political consultants, personal trainers, psychologists, and doctors. These people are likely to understand a specific topic much better than you, and can teach you a lot. They deserve respect and attention.

A specialist can help you move forward, or can lead you into a dead end. It all depends on how you work with experts: whether you know how to get the most out of their experience, while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Based on "Stop Guessing. The 9 Behaviors of Great Problem Solvers" by Nat Greene

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