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Troubling flaws in how we select experts
Old 06-28-2014, 12:08 PM   #1
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Troubling flaws in how we select experts

Perhaps this is why my former mega-corp employer loved to hire those big-buck consulting firms like Bain & Co. for advice.

"The degree to which we know and trust someone should enhance their credibility, after all they have an intimate understanding of our challenges. Unfortunately, the scenario doesn’t typically play out that way. Instead distant individuals are the ones that are perceived as more credible."

The troubling flaws in how we select experts - The Washington Post

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Old 06-28-2014, 12:43 PM   #2
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Some organizations I worked for seemed to fall in love with outside hires while overlooking qualified people inside the company.
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Old 06-28-2014, 12:46 PM   #3
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This is news? It is why I became an independent software consultant over three decades ago. Somehow I got "smarter" in the transformation.

Now more seriously. As you progress in any organization your skills and insight increase, but how you are perceived by that organization often does not. For my own example, I started working for an organization part time while I was still in Jr. College, and continued through college and into getting my advanced degree. Years later people there, who did not know me well, still saw me as the Jr. College guy. I was pegged, limited, probably for life. That is one reason people jump from company to company to ladder up. Not necessarily good for any of the companies they are jumping around to, and not necessarily to increase their contributions, but certainly to increase their incomes.

Happens to all of us. I see kids now graduated from the university, but I still see them learning to walk, pushing a plastic fire truck in front of our house. My mom still told me it was cold and to put on my jacket when I was 50.
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Old 06-28-2014, 01:04 PM   #4
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My mom still told me it was cold and to put on my jacket when I was 50.
Same here. That's when I realized that to Mom, I would always be six years old.
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Old 06-28-2014, 01:18 PM   #5
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Some organizations I worked for seemed to fall in love with outside hires while overlooking qualified people inside the company.
My last full-time employer seemed to value the opinions of outside consultants more than we employees even though most full time employees had a much better feel for the company and it's interests than outsiders. I always credited that to the fact that they were paying a lot to bring in outside folks so they must be correct.

Check out the movie Office Space as a reference.
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Old 06-28-2014, 01:31 PM   #6
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I always chuckled at this definition of a consultant:

"The out of town strangers to whom you give your watch so that they can determine what time it is, break it, and then tell you the time they want it to be".
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Old 06-29-2014, 11:03 AM   #7
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Mark Twain said that an expert was someone that lived at least 50 miles away.
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:15 PM   #8
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Back in the 70s, our definition was someone who didn't know any more than you did, but came from out of town and used color slides.
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:45 PM   #9
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That all sounds so familiar. The one thing maybe in their favor was that sometimes a regulator placed a lot of trust in consultant x , so even though they said the same thing I did, it carried more weight with the regulator, which in turn made it more valuable ... I'm sure Dilbert was involved.
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Old 06-29-2014, 12:50 PM   #10
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SWMBO was a service manager for several car dealerships. Experts were always being brought in, at great expense, to turn things around at the dealerships. Seemed to me that if you turn things around a couple times you are going the same direction, just with less money.
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Old 06-29-2014, 01:36 PM   #11
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There's a lot of truth in not gaining respect after you have reached "technical maturity" within the same organization where you did all the growing up. It's hard to get respect but not impossible.

I was advanced to the "Technical Ladder" at a megacorp at a relatively young age. It was because I tackled and solved a couple of big problems which were a thorn on megacorp's side when they were faced down by their big customer. Solving a high-visibility problem got me noticed by upper management fast, when others before me were stumped. Heh heh heh...

Anyway, when I later became a consultant (and got paid 1.5-1.8X what I would have been paid), I observed that I often brought a new way of doing things to an organization, and they valued that. The problem with inbreeding is real, and companies often hire from competition to get a different perspective.

The other side of the coin is that I often observed that the way my client had been working the problem had some advantages or just different aspects that I had not seen before. These, I remembered and added to my repertoire. Heh heh heh...
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