Posted by: arieliondotcom | April 9, 2010

Identifying Expertise

How do you find/choose a Subject Matter Expert (SME) in your field? Education? Experience? Referral from others? Personal use of information offered? Other? How do you verify that expertise? Please leave a comment.

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Responses

  1. SMEs are people who know a little more than I do about a subject. 🙂

    I think you identify the capabilities needed in the field, then find those who demonstrate them, in spades. For instance, when it comes to spiritual counsel those who have depth are those who have followed the Lord, who was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. I’ve learned to not take counsel except from those who have suffered or who have paid a price to follow the Lord. Those in orders, such as Benedictine Monks, or priests, like Father Walter Cizseck or Martin Luther, or Mother Theresa.

    In my field as a military chaplain, there is a base level of education and experience that is a given. Referral from those I respect goes a long way. Specifically I would look for someone who knows their weaknesses as well or better than their strengths (self knowledge) and plays to their strengths while limiting their weaknesses (impulse control, self discipline, accountability, etc.), have a broad range of experience (vice specialization), can think systematically (levels of war: tactical, operational, strategic), and apply empathic knowledge to the problem at hand (they have perspective when it comes to shortcomings in others).

    In a profession it’s possible to verify these things because we are self policing and regard each other in a small organization. We know each other and have worked with each other.

    Sometimes it’s possible to see immediately what’s in a man – there is no heart there, for instance. But that comes with long observation of people. For the more complex issues, such as, “Would I want this guy leading this organization at senior levels?” it takes a bit more than intuition. General Marshall kept a “black book” while he trained many of the Army’s future leaders during the 20s and 30s. He “kept book” on them. When appointed Chief of Staff by Roosevelt, he shaped the Army that won the war by firing those he considered incompetent and promoting those who showed promise (e.g., Eisenhower). Marshall was a true SME: he knew the Army, knew it’s leaders and had that special intuition that could “see the other side of the hill.”


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