Jeffrey Pfeffer

In medicine and, for that matter, other disciplines such as engineering, we demand expertise and try as best we can to assess whether or not people know what they are doing and talking about. In leadership, a good story coupled with enough self-assurance is often sufficient.

Therefore, in the domain of leadership development, where interventions as frequently measured by their entertainment value and with no science … [ Read more ]

Roger L. Martin

Even experts can be blind to important features of their subjects. I have done a lot of work on country competitiveness, but if anybody had asked me in 2000 to name the top 100 conditions that underpin a thriving economy, I wouldn’t have mentioned “a well-functioning land registry system.” Then I read [Hernando] de Soto’s compelling case that the ability to get clear title to … [ Read more ]

David Burkus

When we face a tough creative challenge, we always look to those with the most expertise. The truth is that some level of expertise matters, but the most creative solutions come from those on the fringes of the subject area, who know enough to understand but not enough to block their creative thinking. Research shows that, over the course of their careers, most individuals tend … [ Read more ]

Steven Levitt

No matter how expert you may be, well-designed checklists can improve outcomes.

Phil Rosenzweig, Peter Gollwitzer

Peter Gollwitzer, a psychologist at New York University, distinguishes between a deliberative mind-set and an implemental mind-set. The deliberative version suggests a detached and impartial attitude. We set aside emotions and focus on the facts. A deliberative attitude is appropriate when we assess the feasibility of a project, plan a strategic initiative, or decide on an appropriate course of action. By contrast, an implemental mind-set … [ Read more ]

Sheena Iyengar and Kanika Agrawal

Through study and practice, experts in any field learn to simplify, categorize, and prioritize information, and to recognize patterns. This allows them to create order out of seeming chaos.

David Maister

An expert’s job is to be right — to solve the client’s problems through the application of technical and professional skill. The advisor behaves differently. Rather than being in the right, the advisor’s job is to be helpful, providing guidance, input, and counseling to the client’s own thought and decision-making processes. The client retains control and responsibility at all times; the advisor’s role is subordinate … [ Read more ]

Paul Graham

Once someone is good at something, they tend to spend all their time doing that. This kind of focus is very valuable, actually. Much of the skill of experts is the ability to ignore false trails. But focus has drawbacks: you don’t learn from other fields, and when a new approach arrives, you may be the last to notice.

Mihnea Moldoveanu

Because knowledge generation is guided by the same basic philosophy that guides the development of expertise, there is littler opportunity to escape its straitjacket: if we wield the logic of specialization and simplification, every phenomenon looks simple and easily decomposable.

Mary Parker Follett

The question of democracy is often discussed on the assumption that we are obliged to choose between the rule of the modern beneficent despot, the expert, and a muddled, befogged ‘people’. If the question were as simple as that, most of our troubles would be over; we should only have to get enough Intelligence Bureaus in Washington, enough scientific management into our factories, enough specialists … [ Read more ]

Niels Bohr

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.

Nicholas Butler

[An expert is] someone who knows more and more about less and less.