By Deb Di Gregorio
When practiced responsibly, capitalism provides a more stable and vibrant society for all. Business is a complex and risky endeavor. When business challenges are understood from a broad perspective, positive change is accelerated and success is the only possible outcome.
Mid-sized companies are at the fulcrum of our economy and our social well being. Ensuring their success is nothing short of necessary for our shared peace and prosperity. Today success can only be achieved through situational awareness on a grand scale.
Reducing the risk of failure for any major business endeavor requires exploration of the greatest number of options. A broad perspective provides many potential solutions. Rather than slowing the process it accelerates success enabling companies to get to optimal solutions early.
Domain Expert Myopia
Unfortunately we are increasingly sold on leveraging the knowledge of domain experts as our best opportunity for success. Those who are selling the idea, posit that there is simply too much to know to be a successful generalist. But the problem is domain experts know only what they know – and they don’t know what they don’t know. For the very reason that there is too much to understand in any domain, it takes a major investment in time and energy to become a domain expert and that results in dangerous myopia.
Bankers, accountants and lawyers see the world through their respective lenses, but rarely do they understand business. Or, in today’s tech-driven world it takes a programmer years to learn one language or one platform. Once understood that programmer is absolutely convinced his platform will do everything your company needs including making your breakfast and ironing your shirts. Programming specialists provide the greatest potential for insidious risk: the result of their efforts can ruin your day, everyday – for years.
A domain expert may be able to take a project down the road and bring it to conclusion fast, but there is a very good chance it will be the wrong road, or a road riddled with pot holes, ultimately requiring the organization to start again from the beginning.
Interdisciplinary Expertise 20/20
Rather than domain expertise, business today require teams of interdisciplinary specialists. Individuals who are, for example, both graphic designers and programmers, or IT security experts and managers, or financial experts and marketers. These individuals bring a powerful cross-discipline understanding of cause and effect to problem solving. For example: understanding the resultant technology and business infrastructure impact of a major marketing effort – and how to minimize it.
Interdisciplinary specialists are a much rarer find. Generally they are seasoned professionals with good communications skills and a collegial working style. They have experience working in teams and willingly learn from each other – no matter how seasoned they are. They are no-nonsense in their approach and directed in their mission.
Creating a team of interdisciplinary specialists assures business management that myriad potential opportunities as well as pitfalls are contemplated as large projects move forward. Only once a broad plan is structured is it time to call in the domain experts who are then perfectly positioned to prove out assumptions and bring deeper domain considerations to the team.
Visionary Results for Business and Community
Twenty years ago, adopting advanced information technology strategies gave companies a competitive edge. Today, to ensure success, focus must be on cultivating interdisciplinary talent with a zeal for understanding business beyond their area of expertise. And that not only helps mid-sized businesses, it helps everyone.