Experts and Questions

I was reading an article in the Times today about our response to ‘expert’ advice and how it tends to cause us to switch off our brains and surrender our power. I found it sufficiently provoking that it triggered my blog today. We are currently in unchartered economic and political waters and we need to be careful who we turn to in times like these. After all, it was the ‘expert’ bankers that led us right up this brown, smelly creek, and it was they who told us we’d never need a paddle…

I explain in my blog that this phenomenon of surrendering power to ‘experts’ is a Fight / Flight response. When we are severely challenged we are chemically programmed to limit our options to attacking or running away. This can lead to us denying we have a problem, refusing to investigate alternative ways of working, discounting evidence of trouble, or just being otherwise unavailable. If you are too busy to listen to people at the moment then you really should pay attention to this!

“Questions are what matters. Questions and discovering the right ones are the key to staying on course….” Gary Kasparov

“The wave of information threatens to obscure strategy, to drown it in details and numbers, calculations and analysis, reactions and tactics. To have strong tactics we must have strong strategy on one side and accurate calculation on the other. Both require seeing into the future” Gary Kasparov

Experts, of course, have huge value, but we need to use them properly. They are there to provide information and to bring in another perspective, but we have to make the final judgement. They can give us new insights, or new tools to use, but you are the expert on your life and your business.

Asking questions of experts, of your staff, of your leaders and of oneself is absolutely critical. If these questions are uncomfortable, then they are probably even more valuable. The harder they are to answer, the better! We are seeing all sorts of innovative ways of solving problems at the moment. Vodafone are co-operating with O2, Tata have brought out a car costing only £1300… what are you doing that is radical?

I bet the heads of RBS and AIG and all those mega corporations that steered right over the cliff were up to the ‘wazoo’ in data telling them that they were on track! Using your intuition, your imagination and your common sense is absolutely essential.

Times like this are not comfortable; and we are programmed to head back to our comfort zone as quickly as our little legs will carry us. Helping us hold our nerve in this uncomfortable place is one of the very best uses of an expert.

One of the best gifts someone can bring you is a good question.

  • What is the most important thing for you to do right now?
  • What single thing, if left unattended, could sink your business?”
  • “What have you been secretly worrying about?
  • Who do you really trust?
  • What is the essence of your service to your customer? [For example Black & Decker customers need holes not drills!]
  • “What are you going to do differently tomorrow that will make all the difference?”

Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” Anthony Robbins

Take some time out both personally and with your team to ask some uncomfortable and left-field questions. Stop doing what you are doing just long enough to ask, “Where are we going and what is the best way to get us there?” Good Luck!

ex means “has been” .. or once was or past … pert means “lively, sprightly, in good health .. bold, forward .. skilled” … so that an expert is one who has lost the innate intelligence of their childhood.

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