Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Why some smart people are reluctant to share? | Life Beyond Code

A post from a blogger I admire, this one set me thinking this morning.

We have often experienced this phenomenon where someone we hold in regard for their knowledge, expertise in a particular area, skills, insight and analytical abilities, just does not seem to share the knowledge.

As humans, our first instinct is to run such a person down--label him/her selfish or a snob.

Rajesh Setty goes beyond that and analyzes how the mind of such a person could be working. And what is seen as selfish could just be a case of the expert taking his expertise for granted and not thinking of it as something worth sharing.

The diagram below depicts how an expert perceives his/her own knowledge...

A definitely good read...
Why some smart people are reluctant to share? | Life Beyond Code

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  1. I agree that there are some smart people (many in fact) who are real perfectionists and don't like to go out on a limb and be "wrong." However, there are others that use their expertise for their own personal gain. Is this wrong? Not always. Janet Clancy has a good post on the question of sharing when your job is "knowledge." If you are always sharing, you may not have a job or income.

    However, I think there are many who don't share because they are insecure and want to have something "up" on their fellow mankind (as we discussed in an earlier post). While I can understand them, I don't have to like them or working with them!

  2. Thank you for your comment. As always, you bring in a different perspective that makes me think...

    The insecure people will always withhold knowledge and use it as a source of power. However, I agree that sometimes, being knowledge workers, we cannot afford to share everything.

    The fine line is discerning between when will sharing benefit the team, the project...and when does sharing become a case of imparting all you know that the other individual may not truly appreciate.

    I also believe that when we gain sufficient command over a subject, it is because we are passionate about it, have actively sought all information related to it...This kind of "passion" cannot be taught. Each person has to go through the pain and pleasure of learning to arrive at that stage. While we can impart information, we cannot make anyone an expert.

    What do you think?

  3. Ah...this is a great question and something that I am working through right now for my dissertation. Let me get back to you on that as I am still not sure what makes an expert. Sometimes people THINK they are experts because of their passion for the subject, but really are myopic in their understanding. Others might not see themselves as experts because they aren't passionate about it, but others do look at them as experts.

    5 years ago I did some research with colleagues because they needed the help (and I know I am a pretty good writer). Both of these articles are now being cited more and more. The one article, in the area of ethics education, gave me enough credentials to be considered a peer reviewer (in other words, an expert in the area). The thing is, I'm not interested in either topic.

  4. "Sometimes people THINK they are experts because of their passion for the subject, but really are myopic in their understanding."

    You've set me thinking again...and the more I think, I feel that someone who is passionate about a subject will NEVER think/feel they are experts. They will always want to know more, will know that there is no defined end to "knowing"...there will never be a point when anyone can know it all...then, what do we mean by expertise?

    I've gone back to where I started. I would love to hear your thoughts...and read your articles, if I may.


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