Expertise Is a Matter of Context
When making decisions, formulating strategy, and solving problems, everyone benefits from more information, data, and background.
The context surrounding a challenge provides an initial pathway forward and often informs how to best tackle the dilemma. More, not less, context is always appreciated and preferred.
Interestingly, some people need a lot more context than others to make sense of and to begin work on a problem.
Those in need of more background use it as a frame of reference. Without it, they don’t know how to approach a situation or how to make immediate progress. In the absence of information, the ability to understand the salient issues involved becomes blurry. A lack of confidence in where to start and what to focus on muddles their thinking, as well.
Those who require much less context to approach a situation or decision use their smarts, experience, and intuition to learn as they go. They confidently enter the stream, working from the presumption that they will figure out what matters as they read the cues in what they observe in real time.
They gather context rather than depend on it. In many cases, they prefer not to be encumbered by the assumptions history and data thrust upon any problem. They prefer to fly without instruments to guide them.
True experts do not rely on context as a crutch. This isn’t to say they ignore or eschew background and data when it is available. But they don’t need it to apply their expertise and to make real progress on an issue. We can always tell who has the experience and wisdom to creatively apply sound thinking to a problem or decision by how much context they require.
Ask anyone to address a problem or formulate a strategy and see how comfortable they are without much context to guide them. You’ll learn a lot about how expert they really are. While their thinking will get better as more information becomes available, they can make progress and sound judgments without it.
How much context do you require to approach a new problem in your area of expertise? In other words, how expert are you?
Is this because real experts have developed such an improvisational skill with their expertise that an individual's specific context or question is being picked up by them in ways that seem effortless?
There is still a danger is being too presumptive in individual situations, right?