Know-How or Expertise

Know-How or Expertise?


On the surface this sounds like two sides of the same coin, but I believe they are very different and choosing which one is needed can be critical to achieving the desired outcome.


In my blog last week one of the questions I forwarded was: What is preventing us from achieving our anticipated results? Let’s face it, when you are in the business it is difficult to see the business. Stepping back and looking at what is working and what is not, is a challenge. It is often vital to bring in a fresh set of eyes. So therefore many companies turn to experts, individuals with very specific content knowledge. I am arguing that this is not always the best course of action. If you currently follow common practices, then reaching out for an expert could simply bring another person who shares the same paradigm. If you are the CEO of an automotive company, selecting an automotive expert may provide great content knowledge, but likely will mean that they come with similar beliefs and practices. The risk here is that what may be needed to move the business forward is a pivot from current thinking and established practices. In this case, I would argue Know-How is what is needed. Know-How in the form of a person that will ask different questions, who has an established processes to extract the knowledge, possessed but not activated, from those in the business, and has that fresh set of eyes.

I would suggest an expert, be it from academia or the industry, would be of great help if the constraint is truly an issue that requires some very specific and deep content knowledge. However in my experience, the root cause is more typically found in more foundational issues such as communication, leadership, measuring or incentivizing the wrong activity, etc. In that case, an expert may not be the best solution. So, choose an expert when specific content knowledge is a must, but consider the value of good old fashion Know-How when new thinking and fresh eyes are what is truly needed.


Thanks for reading,

Elliot Begoun