How Matters

joe —  Fri 27-Nov-15 — 2 Comments
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Farmer in Field copyThe older I get the more I come to grips with how little I really know. Yet, the older I get the more I find others look to me for the answers. I actually had someone recently introduce me as an expert on a subject. Wow, that couldn’t be any further from the truth.

I have never liked the word expert. It goes into the pool of words like cloud, omni-channel, and platform – words that get recklessly bandied about to have lost any real meaning. Yet, rare is the week when I don’t hear someone labelling themselves as an expert at something. I am pretty sure this is why God invented the eye-roll.

I recall a friend’s breakdown of an expert.

Ex – Former
Spurt – A drip under pressure
Seems about right to me.


Somehow our society has become obsessed with experts. We value the view of one self-proclaimed superior being over the combined intelligence of many. We choose our leaders, our CEOs, and our Presidents by what they know now. When elections come about we ask them what they would do on a specific issue, implying that they must already have an answer. “How would you reduce racial violence?” “Would you sign the Iran deal?” “Mary Ann or Ginger?” Everyone is forced to stand firm on how they would solve a problem in a role that they have not yet filled.

Seo expertYet, here we are in America trying to find the best expert for the job. Is it the iconoclast, the CEO, the doctor, or the one with a familial pedigree? It’s like interviewing someone for a job where someone else gets to ask all the questions.

If I were to interview a presidential candidate I would approach it much like a a candidate for my team. I would spend less time on what they know today and more time on their ability to learn for tomorrow. I recognize that they must first have the base knowledge required of the position. Much like the sign outside of a roller-coaster that says, “You must be this tall to go on this ride,” their current knowledge can be determined quickly. The fascinating part is trying to figure out how they go about solving things they don’t currently know.

Calvin  hobbes ignorant but act on it copyIn the realm of tough geo-political problems, no one has the answer to all of the problems or maybe any of the problems. All problems at this level require help from many different people, many with opposing views. Therefore, the most successful candidate should be the one that knows how to work with others. How they do this may be the single biggest determinant of success. How matters most.

This is why I don’t get the “fed-up” movement. These are the folks that are so fed up with business as usual that they are craving for someone radically different. They crave the maverick, the sheriff that will come into Dodge and clean up the town. We worship the lone hero over the collective, because that is what we were raised on believing. There is no us in Superman. Wait.

I share the sentiment of the fed-up movement. However, I do not believe the answer is in The Donald, or any other of the I don’t care what anyone else thinks candidates. This year I am watching how the candidates get their information. How willing are they to admit that they don’t have the answer? How would they get the insight needed to make decisions? How would they bring people together instead of driving them apart? Are they in touch with their own ignorance (which they all are as none has ever served the office) or are they the self-anointed expert? This year I will not hesitate to vote for a candidate that has an opposing position to mine if I believe that they have the capacity to listen, learn, and have the strength to change their mind.

This year, HOW matters more than all else, and my observations will be focused on how they unite and learn, not how they destroy.

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  • Timm Silva

    Joe, these are some fantastic thoughts. In my life my folks always told me, if want to lead you have to be led. That is the fascinating thing isn’t it. Everyone wants to fix our problems and go with their decisions but I think the thing that lacks most is the focus to bring others in the conversation. It reminds me of a talk by Simon Sinek and he really closes on people don’t want to know what you do, but more so why you do it. That is what promotes buy in and change. For lack of a better way to close, I think of another quote in line “stay hungry, stay foolish,” that is the leader that we need. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    • http://thestrandedstarfish.com Joe Kleinwaechter

      Well said, Timm. I’m a big fan of Sinek as well. We have used Sinek’s why/how/what circle to try and re-design our organization recently. If you have any experience or insight on how to best accomplish that I would love to hear about it.