For some time now, a greater number of experts on the most diverse disciplines and matters keep arising any and every day, as in some kind of outbreak which obliged all living creatures to “release the expert they bear inside”, and who also take the liberty (which on the other hand is something highly desirable, in any case) to give their opinion about something they may know just through a remote and shallow varnish.
Not only they need to know what they are talking about, but also it would be highly recommendable that they talked about what they know. In my opinion, there has been a denaturing and devaluation of what it has been historically considered as an expert. I will explain myself: according to The Collins English Dictionary, expert comes from Latin expertus which means experienced, known by experience that is “knowledge or skill in a particular job or activity, which you have gained from doing that job or activity”
What I mean to say is that theoretical knowledge may be at anybody’s reach while experience does not consist on attending a few speeches, reading some books or downloading some courses from the internet. So, unless we are altering, distorting or twisting the concept, only with theoretical ingredients it does not seem we may be talking about an expert.
It does not make much sense to dedicate to explain how to handle and manage teams for someone who has never worked with teams, if you are not aware of the consequences derived from management decision making for an organization it does not sound logical to pretend establishing the parameters which frame them, when you have just performed some laboratory tests you cannot assert that you are obtaining some specific results outside a supervised environment, if they never had the chance of trying and checking their methods, measures and actions, they may unlikely guarantee that they have worked.
In short, whoever does not count on experiences or stories of their own, it is my understanding that there are no further available options apart from taking some from someone else or straight inventing them.
Unfortunately, within the public sector things may work differently from what usually happens in private companies, mainly with regard to some adverse consequences which could be derived from an unwise choice when deciding the person to cover a position. In many cases, it has been clearly proved that there is no need to have any academic background level to cover some positions within the public institutions scope, or to hold some technical knowledge or practical experience. We may even find multiple examples of supposed great experts who after presenting plans and programs to face specific scenarios, have achieved a clear worsening of the circumstances and, paradoxically, sometime later as a prize for the unfortunate result they obtained before, are called back to propose solutions for some situations they created themselves, closing the incompetence circle.
I believe as something generally accepted to consider Leonardo da Vinci as a visionary, a genius, an inventor way ahead of his era, who was capable of imagining and designing the most original devices and machines for his time, sometimes as proprietary ideas and others adapting alien prototypes, but most of them never worked in that moment, probably due to a lack of the proper occasion for it, the technical advances or the materials used were not most adequate, or they simply were not fully developed as they did not have a practical use.
In the same way, from my point of view, taking into account our current situation, all proposed recommendations, measures and actions need to have an immediate positive effect for the companies and organizations, refer to defined, concrete and specific questions and aspects and, above all, must be based on previous stories or experiences, those who form the expertise we mentioned at the beginning of this article, which is only within the reach of someone who has developed a professional activity for long period of time.
Maybe someone could propose a new term, for instance “expertheoretic” to define those who considered themselves of are taken as experts, although they are not if we attain to this adjective definition, as they cannot be experienced if they lack the essential experience.
(Post published on 28.May.2013, blog upgrade date is shown)