Experts At Preventing Are Not Always Experts At Repairing
Don't have much time or attention?
Here's the main takeaway so you can get on with your day.
We respect your hustle.
Experts are the people we hire with the knowledge and experience to do the best possible job at a specific thing. When those experts are ignored, new, different, and bigger problems can arise, which that person has no expertise at resolving. If you are going to spend money hiring an expert, listen to them. Otherwise, there's a chance you'll need to spend far more money on far more experts.
Want the full story with all the juicy details?
Why You Hire Experts In The First Place
Every company in the world relies on people with enough knowledge and experience in a particular area to help make the most reliable, informed decisions. For the sake of simplicity, we will call them "experts", but they are often referred to as "workers", "people", or "literally anyone doing something you don't know how to do yourself". Whether these experts are employees, contractors, or consultants makes little difference if you pay them for the same reason: to help you make the best possible decision.
We call this out upfront to help drive the point home throughout the rest of the article. If you spend money to bring someone into your organization - whether they are internal or external, temporary or permanent - it's because you know there is a gap in what your organization needs and you want someone who is well-practiced in that area to help you handle it in the best way.
Experts Lack Authority
It is far too common for experts to be treated as an optional voice rather than the deciding factor. Employees are often at the whims of those higher in the company's hierarchy, and consultants typically act as an advisor. Of course, the level of authority in either situation depends on organizational structure, contractual agreements, and the personalities and preferences of individual leaders. In any case, it's far from unheard of for a company to disregard the advice, suggestions, and detailed plans of the experts in their employ.
For the experts, it is beyond frustrating. They have had personal experience dealing with situations like this numerous times and have a good idea of what will happen if they are ignored. For the companies, it is dangerous and wasteful. It is paying someone for their advice only to ignore it and do something different, something not backed by an expert.
Of course, there is no requirement to listen to the experts. Sometimes they can be ignored and everything still turns out fine. However, rolling the dice means it can also turn out much worse. It is in these latter situations that we see an issue arise which is the main focus of this article ...
Expertise Depends On Context
An important thing to remember about experts is that most expertise depends on the context. Specifically, some fields are entirely proactive, while others are entirely retroactive. If you plan on building a nuclear power plant, you would hire a nuclear engineer as your expert, because they hopefully have the skills, experience, and know-how to help you build a safe, effective nuclear power plant.
Now, you can absolutely ignore them. Maybe their idea would cost too much or take too long. They warn you repeatedly, but you opt to forego their cautions and do things your own way. Maybe you even use the majority of their ideas but you cut some corners so it's more in line with what you like. Here's the thing about experts and context:
If the context change, the expert you have might not be the expert you need.
If you ignore the nuclear engineer and your power plant has a meltdown, that person is no longer a useful expert. A nuclear engineer probably doesn't have expertise in evacuations, containing and cleaning up the environmental impact, or handling the public communication of the disaster. You now need far more experts in a wide array of disciplines to handle the problem that the first expert warned you about.
This isn't just the case for jobs as dire as the above example. Similar examples are everywhere. If you ignore your information security expert, there could be a data breach. That person can help you prevent another one, but they can't help you repair all the damage done to the business and brand. Ignore your people operations expert and the strikes, lawsuits, and high turnover from poor employee treatment needs far more effort from far more people to fixed.
Nobody Is Right All The Time
Even a so-called "expert" is not infallible. We are all humans, which means we can all make mistakes or forget to get all necessary information. Also, none of us can predict the future or be all-knowing, so things can always happen that we couldn't possibly have planned for. However, some people are statistically more likely to be right in certain areas if they spend their live studying and practicing in that area. If you aren't convinced, you can hire a different expert at the same thing for a second opinion.
All this to say that just because you have an expert doesn't mean you need to do what they say no matter what. Every good idea is a result of exchanging ideas and collaborating. Though, it's also important to be aware of one another's strengths and weaknesses. That includes acknowledging when someone else has more insight, knowledge, and experience with the problem you are trying to solve, especially if they are begging you to head their warnings.
This is normally where the conclusion would be.
Replacing tradition with efficiency is kind of our thing.