Practically on the day I joined IBM in 1999 I was whisked off to Cambridge, MA, to be part of a global team to launch a new system that would help people discover hidden expertise in an organisation. On the way home I wrote a paper on the people issues I thought would hamper the implementation of this type of technology which I will share with you one day, but not today because I want to talk more generally about expertise location.
This trip was the moment I became interested in the problem of how you find people who know stuff that you need to know. Expertise is a slippery word because this stuff you need to know might not seem like rarefied knowledge; in fact, it rarely is. Most of the time you simply need to know how to get things done and the knowledge you need might be as simple as an introduction, a pointer to a web-site, a demonstration, or a conversation to get you thinking. So I got thinking: what are some simple ways to find the people you need to know? Interestingly, in many cases you already know these people but just don’t realise their breadth of knowledge.
I wrote this article a couple of years ago and found it again recently. I think it begins to answer my rhetorical question but it is far from complete. We published it in our last newsletter so I’ve popped it in the white papers section of our site. There is much more to be said on the topic, for example, on how people navigate through networks to find people, how do you validate expertise, what is expertise, and how do you create an environment where expertise finds you rather than the other way around?
About Shawn Callahan
Shawn, author of Putting Stories to Work, is one of the world's leading business storytelling consultants. He helps executive teams find and tell the story of their strategy. When he is not working on strategy communication, Shawn is helping leaders find and tell business stories to engage, to influence and to inspire. Shawn works with Global 1000 companies including Shell, IBM, SAP, Bayer, Microsoft & Danone. Connect with Shawn on: