—————————————————— ON "EXPERTISM" ————————————————————————————

Way too much faith is put in experts. We hand over our trust, our money, our hope, and then—shockingly!—are disappointed and sometimes disadvantaged when their "expertise" fails to deliver against our highly individual needs.

In the food world, this often gives rise to individual abdication of responsibility when it comes to putting things in our mouths. We trust journalists to tell us what to buy and eat, chefs to define taste, photographers to depict beauty, and (worst!) food manufacturers to slap meaning all over their products with compellingly plumped-up brands. Little wonder that most individuals don't consider themselves "food people" and chase trends while goggling wide-eyed at the latest media-broadcast fear festival. (Not a food person? I ask. What's that stuff on your plate three times a day?)

In the consulting world, it means that the inherent expertise and institutional knowledge of a company or organization often gets overlooked, or at least underused, in any given decision-making process. Experts? We're all experts--in our own experience, in our own jobs, in our own communities. What businesses and non-profits really need is a coach and

facilitator to help guide those internal experts through the process of understanding what they already know, of building connections with that knowledge, and of making and actualizing decisions. It's not rocket science, and it's certainly not consulting double-speak. It's help.

In the world of writing, the question of expertise gets a little tricky. When words go onto the page, thousands of years of print culture gives them a whole lot of credibility. What writers need to do is be experts in their own experience, describe it winningly, and help trigger connections in their readers' minds. Even better if a piece of writing inspires someone else to put a few thoughts together and send them off into the ether. The mind boggles—upward spiraling knowledge?

We often talk about collaboration, about the glories of a communitarian environment where working together breeds bigger and better ideas. But collaboration needs a facilitator--someone outside of the idea ownership, whose (dare I say it) expertise is in prompting others to be their best. Transparent, catalytic, and helpful. Not there for the glory, but glorying in results nonetheless.