The never ending search for expertise

Maxim #33
The more you learn, the less you know

maxim_33One of the cruel things you learn as you get older is how much there is to learn and how little you actually know. This maxim has a kindred link to Maxim #4 – Combine excellence with humility. That maxim is a gentle reminder to be good at what you do but be humble so that others can tolerate you. This maxim is more a recognition that there is simply a lot to learn and the more you study anything the more you find you don’t know about it.

There is a tendency in our business (management consulting) to think we know quite a lot about the functional areas or businesses we study. This is perhaps particularly true in the first few years in the industry and at least in part due to the somewhat artificial notion that consultants are supposed to be experts (as many claim they are). Time and experience eventually teaches us that our area of expertise is much narrower than we first think. The longer you stay in the industry the more you realize how much we learn from our clients, as well as how much there is to learn and the area in particular which continues to offer a seemingly endless source of learning is how and why people are motivated to do things, or in other words, their behaviors. This is not only true in the world of consulting but in all aspects of work and life.

At Carpedia, our success is directly attributed to our approach – we don’t claim to be experts about a company or industry – our clients are experts in their business and each client requires us to get to know them, learn what we can about their situation, burning platforms, and goals. Only by working hands on, day in and day out, can we work towards modifying behaviors in order to sustain the results going forward and deliver the solution that’s right for them to succeed.

So when you start to think you have it figured out and start closing yourself off to other people’s ideas and perspectives, it’s useful to remind yourself that you may have reached a certain level of understanding but there are usually many other levels that you don’t yet know about that may hold the key to the results you desire.