How to use experts—and when not to - Noreena Hertz
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We make important decisions every day -- and we often rely on experts to help us decide. But, says economist Noreena Hertz, relying too much on experts can be limiting and even dangerous. She calls for us to start democratizing expertise -- to listen not only to "surgeons and CEOs, but also to shop staff."
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Google CEO Eric Schmidt underscored the importance of what Hertz calls “managed dissent” in a 2008 McKinsey Quarterly interview [http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/Googles_view_on_the_future_of_business_An_interview_with_CEO_Eric_Schmidt_2229]. Schmidt said: “[The Internet] has a lot of … implications for the way corporations operate. They can't be as controlling. They have to let information out. They have to listen to customers, because customers are talking to them. And if they don't, their competitor will. So there's a long list of reasons why a more transparent company is a better organization. If you don't have dissent then you have a king. And the new model of governance is very much counter to that. What I try to do in meetings is to find the people who have not spoken, who often are the ones who are afraid to speak out, but have a dissenting opinion. I get them to say what they really think and that promotes discussion, and the right thing happens. So open models, beyond input from outside, also have to be inside the corporation. Encouraging this is an art, not a science. Because in traditional companies, the big offices, the corner offices, the regal bathrooms, and everybody dressed up in suits cause people to be afraid to speak out. But the best ideas typically don't come from executives. And, unfortunately, the executives don't agree with me on that.” Share Schmidt’s words with workers in your area. Is this how their company operates? What kind of skills would an executive leading this type of organization need to possess? Based on your reflection and discussion, draft a job description that details the skills this type of leader would need to succeed. Noreena Hertz http://www.noreena.com/ The New York Times: Why experts get the future wrong (03/25/2011) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/27/books/review/book-review-future-babble-by-dan-gardner.html?pagewanted=all The Atlantic: Why experts get it wrong (04/01/2011) http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/04/why-experts-get-it-wrong/73322/ TED: Barry Schwartz on our loss of wisdom http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/barry_schwartz_on_our_loss_of_wisdom.html TED: Kathryn Schulz on being wrong http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/kathryn_schulz_on_being_wrong.html
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