Most of the organizations, sometime or the other, in their lifetime grapple with the classic problem of ‘finding the experts’, ‘who’s the expert’. Majority of the organizations then also approach to solve this problem by creating expert databases, skills repository etc.
Let’s break this classic ‘who’s the expert’ scenario into 2 constituents:
- The person[s] who is ‘the’ expert
- The person[s] who is looking ‘for’ the expert
I think that we lay too much importance on the first constituent and approach all solutions to expertise etc from the viewpoint of the first constituent — determining what the characteristics of an expert should be? what they should know? What should be their experience level? Etc.
Shouldn’t an expert [and therefore expertise] be determined by the person seeking an expert? A very important aspect to consider is — Why is a person seeking for an expert? The underlying ‘why’ is a very important aspect to determining expertise. After all people don’t sit in a room/park/office and think ‘Hey, Since I have nothing else to do; let me find an expert in such and such area…‘ There is a reason why people want to reach out to an expert and it is this ‘reason’ that is usually very ‘individualistic’ to a person and their specific needs and hence generalization of an expert may not be the right approach.
An approach where the interpretation of expertise is left to the person ‘seeking’ an expert could work out much better.