What Makes an Expert Really Different

We hear so much about expertise these days, that it becomes important to remind ourselves what features distinguish an expert from someone simply experienced in a field. In short: an expert is not only very experienced, but he/she must be able to:

  • transmit knowledge
  • change the policies and the rules.

And this is a very operational criterion used by many organisations to define the expert level in a trade.

The ability to transmit knowledge is essential, as it demonstrates reflection and full understanding of the material. In addition, transmitting knowledge is an excellent way to deepen one’s knowledge, so this is clearly a self-accelerating competency.

The ability to change policies and rules is another feature of being able to transmit knowledge, albeit this time in a more institutional setting. It demonstrates the ability to stand for one’s knowledge, work out the internal politics and convince the organisation to change based on knowledge.

Of course, the issue of expertise in a complex world is that it is mainly based on consideration of the past, however I find this definition of what makes an expert special quite useful and operational. Are your experts really ‘experts’?