We live in an Information Economy, but a revolution is taking place. As knowledge doubles exponentially, you’re one Google search away from being an expert on just about anything. And so is everyone else. These days experts are easy to find. Turn on CNN, Fox News, or MSNBC. Open up the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or USA Today. Our world is filled with experts.
If you think about it, ‘EXPERT‘, is a funny word. Let’s break it down.
- EX – meaning in the past, formerly or has been.
- PERT – meaning attractive, saucy, or lively.
Does this mean an expert is a formerly attractive, has been filled with information that was lively and useful in the past? Maybe that’s why it’s so easy (and entertaining) to find experts to argue with one another on TV, Radio and the Internet. Like any commodity, when a market is flooded with similar products the value of that product dramatically decreases. For an Information Economy to work, experts have to be replaceable parts of the system. Like paper clips. Their word may hold the pages of your report together, but if something they do or say is contrary to your product, purpose or business plan you can always find another paperclip that will do the job, and maybe this time in neon green.
So, Experts, I’ll say this as kindly yet directly as I can. You are a replaceable commodity. Best find ways to refocus your knowledge into something that produces real value. The world is shifting. We no longer live in an Information Economy. We’re rapidly moving toward a different paradigm, the Wisdom Economy.
There are three most valuable players in the Wisdom Economy.
- Research Guru – The Research Guru will replace the Expert. Unlike Experts who specialize in one field, the Research Guru is knowledgeable about a variety of topics: from pop culture, to ancient history, from science fiction to sports trivia. Their expertise isn’t based on years of experience, but rather mastery of the tools that allow them to look up the established answer to almost any question at a moment’s notice. Research Gurus are search engine masters. They speak fluent Wikipedia. They understand how to use social media to crowd source answers. They know the difference between a genuine expert and a well-read spin doctor regurgitating pop-science urban legend or SNOPES-quality ‘facts’. The Research Guru is a CONNECTOR. They connect ideas with people and people with ideas using a language their audience can understand. In the future every grade school teacher will be a Research Guru connecting students with the best information available on the topic the student is currently learning.
- Wise Influencer – Wisdom is knowing what to do with what you know. The Wise Influencer knows what to do with the information she’s given. She may know because of experience. She may know because she’s learned lessons from others, that’s education. The Wise Influencer knows what to do with what she knows and uses that knowledge to add value to her organization. There’s a difference between wisdom and experience. Wisdom teaches the lesson before the decision. Experience teaches the lesson after. Either way, you learn the same lesson. For example, I can tell my son, “Don’t touch the pot. It’s hot.” He can listen to me, believe my word, avoid touching the pot and not get burned. If he does, that’s wisdom. He learned the lesson beforehand. He could also choose to ignore the information he’s been given, touch the pot and get burned. Same lesson, only this time he learned after the experience. Next time he’ll make a different choice. The Wise Influencer knows what to do with what they know because they’ve already learned the lesson through experience or education.
- Discerning Decision Maker – The great theologian/philosopher/poet, Kenny Rogers, once wrote, “You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, know when to run…” That’s discernment. The Discerning Decision Maker knows the difference between right and wrong. They understand the subtle separation between good, better and best. This is Steve Jobs. How many companies make phones or mp3 players? The heart of the technology is the same basic widget, yet something about Apple causes the iPhone and iPod to stand out. What is it? The Discerning Decision Maker at the top understood that design and ease of use matters. He was able to combine the science with the art. Last quarter alone it was a $46 billion difference.
Someone reading this blog, surfing the same internet as you will create the next great social movement, invent the company that will replace Apple or discover a new way to provide for the poor. They won’t be an expert at anything. They’ll know what to do with what they know and be one of the MVP’s of the new Wisdom Economy.