I noticed this old story circulating again, recently. It’s such a great illustration of what it is to be an expert and how others, who may be expert in their own field, can miss and potentially undervalue expertise in others.
You know the one – it’s about the expert engineer called in to fix the machine and the owner questioning his invoice. The punch line goes something like: “£55.00 for attending site and tapping the machine with my hammer – and £1,000 for knowing where to tap it”.
We might sum expertise up as the ability to notice, recognise and deal with things others simply miss. Expertise may not always have direct monetary value. It may not be so complicated it can’t be understood by others when explained (“it’s not rocket science”) but it can nevertheless have a remarkable outcome.
Another great example of what expertise is, was during the Olympics, in the diving pool. Watching the divers, we often become “arm-chair experts”. Looking at the slo-mo and replays, commenting on over-rotation and “ooh that that must have stung!”.However, we were not judging, the judges were; and what is remarkable about them is that they didn’t see the replay in slow motion from all angles as we, the arm-chair experts did. They were making their decisions in those few seconds it took the divers to get from the platform to disappear beneath the surface of the pool, based on their expertise and the ability to see the detail in a dive “in real-time”. Quite clearly, they could see at that moment so much we missed, often even after the replays! They are experts and that’s why they were in the position of making decisions that led to medals.
In business, wise operators will surround themselves with experts who complement their own knowledge and experience. They don’t try to cover all the bases but focus on what they do best, buying in advice, support and guidance through their network. They don’t see it as a distress purchase but an investment. IT, HR, property, law, marketing and so on; they are experts who deliver benefits that offset the time, cost and stress of “winging it”.
Who wouldn’t rather have an acknowledged expert on their side when they step outside their core skill set? What will we miss that the expert will (1) see, (2) understand and (3) either turn into an advantage or perhaps compensate for to mitigate a downside? The worst case is that we never find that out and go on paying for the mistakes! In our opening example, that could be the difference between the broken machine firing up as before because the expert dealt with it, or it is replaced as unrepairable because the expert was thought “too expensive”; a potential cost difference far greater than the £1,000 the owner questioned.
My expertise lies in commercial property. If you come to me for advice the likelihood is that I can save your business time and money. I can recognise and negotiate detail within commercial property leases that many business owners may miss. By using me to help take control of your commercial property decisions you will have an expert on your side.