We have talked about personal branding before, but going a level deeper, realistically, how do you brand yourself as an expert.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote “Every man I meet is my superior in some way.”
In the HBR article, Make Yourself an Expert by Dorothy Leonard, Gavin Barton, and Michelle Barton, I was fascinated by a very interesting perspective on expertise and those we consider superior to us and see as being indispensable to the organization.
In the article, we are introduced to a set of professionals familiar to us– identified as “deep smarts”—these are colleagues who have built business-critical expertise through years of experience, which helps them make wise, swift decisions about both strategy and tactics. They can be in sales, tech-wizards, risk managers, or operational specialists, but they are all the “go-to” people for a given type of knowledge in their organizations.
Their importance lies not in facts and data accessible to all but, instead it is a different sort of knowledge: ways of thinking, making decisions, and behaviors that lead to repeated success.
How do you transform into a deep- smart expert within the organization and brand yourself as an expert?
Learn from the best through conscious observation and application. See how the experts in your organization operate and deliberately learn from them. The intent is not to be a carbon copy of somebody but to pull elements of their knowledge and expertise to your knowledge base.
These deep-smarts are unique because they are a product of their particular mind-set, education, and experience. But, as with every form of knowledge there would be clear data points to identify the elements of their knowledge and behavior that make them so valuable to the organization.The very obvious challenges would be that the expert might be making decisions based on experience and applied solutions that had worked well in the past, something like managerial muscle memory. This would be hard to identify, let alone articulate and document.
The process of by which you brand yourself as an expert
We are helped to gain this knowledge through a process known as OPPTY described in the article. OPPTY stands for Observation, Practice, Partnering and joint problem solving, and Taking responsibility;the authors prescribe it as an effective method of evolving into a deep-smart within your organization.
1) Observation involves shadowing an expert and systematically analyzing what he or she does.Becoming an expert begins with deciding whom you will acquire knowledge from and how. Once you have selected the expert,observe his process of dealing with different situations and people – be it body language, non-verbal cues, empathy, communication mode chosen, and method of dealing.
2) Practice requires identifying a specific expert behavior or task that you can attempt on your own, but with supervision and feedback. Create an action plan outlining near-term and long-term goal and the steps to achieve them with suggested deadlines.
3) Partnering and joint problem solving mean actively working with the expert to analyze and address challenges. Ask reflective questions like-What was the context of the situation? What did the expert do and why did he do it? What did I do and what feedback did I get? What worked? What didn’t? What should I do next?
Note all the learning in a log as it serves as an accurate record of progress (allowing for the reevaluation of goals if need be) and ensures you’ve learned, of what you and the expert intended.
4) Finally, when you’re ready, you can try to independently handle a situation utilizing the knowledge gained through this period. It is your choice to run this by your chosen guide and receive feedback. You might end up building new knowledge and acknowledged by the deep-smart as a peer.
In earlier times, people learnt their trade by the process of apprenticeship. We still see it prevalent and most effective method of learning in most of the arts like cooking, artisanry etc. So, shouldn’t the same process prove as effective and efficient in today’s modern corporate world specially when every organization aims to increasing creative thinking and innovation at its core?
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: The article is adapted and synthesized from the article “Make yourself an expert by Dorothy Leonard, Gavin Barton, and Michelle Barton. The link is provided here for people who wish to read it in detail here. I would encourage you to do so and hope you find it as fascinating as I did.