A Tale of Two Experts
In the November 2009 issue of Florida Sportsman Magazine there is an article featuring Larry “The Fishman” Finch. Many of you know I am an avid surf fisherman and Larry Finch is one of the best surf fishermen in the world when it comes to catching Florida Pompano, (one of the most expensive fish that swims). Larry is a commercial surf fisherman and can legally catch 100 Pompanos per day. Pompano average 2 pounds each and the wholesale price is $3.50 per pound. On a good day he can make $700.00 fishing from the shore. Trust me when I say he has good days.
Big Pie Mentality
What is unique about Larry is that he will share what he knows. He will tell you exactly how he does it. If you meet him on the beach or at a seminar he will show you exactly how he does it. Some of Larry’s commercial fishing brethren despise the fact that Larry shares information that took decades to learn and collect. In the November issue of Florida Sportsman he did exactly that. He shared to the point of listing his personal cell phone number in a widely published magazine just in case a reader has questions they can call him personally. Larry is the kind of expert that enjoys enlightening and educating others. He believes if he shares, he creates a bigger pie for himself and others.
Small Pie Mentality
Another surf fishing expert I know, also a renowned Pompano fisherman is the opposite of Larry. He not only doesn’t share his knowledge but provides misleading information. He is hard to contact and doesn’t return phone calls or emails with regularity if he doesn’t consider you a peer on his level of expertise. He is the kind of expert that wants to be recognized as the expert but doesn’t want to share his knowledge and when pressed to share he doesn’t tell you everything to ensure you have to come back and worship at his expert throne. He believes if he shares his expertise his piece of the pie gets smaller.
Knowledge is a Form of Power
Some experts will share power and others will horde power. As a project manager it is important to assess all the experts that support your project. An expert that does not readily share and make themselves available can become a stumbling block and a source of contention for the project team.
When you have an expert that doesn’t share, as project manager you must take proactive steps to ensure availability and knowledge transfer. Set expectations at the start of the project. Expectations can include a targeted turnaround time for questions; Agreed upon times for their availability; Structured training briefings where their knowledge is shared. Most experts are not like Larry Finch. Most will not freely and completely share information. Whenever expertise is shared express appreciation for the expert that makes them self available and shares their knowledge. Also ensure that credit for proposals and solutions goes to those who are truly responsible for generating them. Often experts provide input and solutions only to see others receive the accolades for their work which contributes to a reluctance to share.
He Who Learns Teaches
If you are an expert and reading this consider generously sharing your knowledge. It is my belief that the ancient proverb “he who learns teaches” is correct. The more I share and address questions the more I learn and the more my expertise increases. Additionally because I am committed to self development as any and all experts should be, my expertise is not static but always growing. Whatever your field of endeavor you should know more about it tomorrow than you do today. Sharing knowledge creates trust and relationships.
James T. Brown, Author, The Handbook of Program Management
Copyright 2009 SEBA Solutions Inc.