When I hear customers talking about how much they rely on their experts, I often remind them that the project is theirs – that no expert can take their responsibility away nor will any expert know their company and groups the way they do. I mean that I do that even when the customer is my own. 🙂
I happened to be reading the Harvard Business School Press book “Teams That Click” and, lo-and-behold, there’s confirmation that I’m doing the right thing. There on page 94 it agrees with me. Like many people, when I find anyone that agrees with me, I like to point it out, too!
Specifically, the book is talking about the circumstances where team-members hold back their ideas and opinions. One of the reasons, among others, is when they perceive an expert is present, they will sometimes hold their opinion back, deferring to the expert to speak on the topic.
But those ideas and opinions the person holds back might have been valuable. We’ll never know, though, because they held them back. And, as the book says, “…their decision overlooks the fact that even the best experts retain individual biases which can render flawed solutions.”
Thus, while I do enjoy giving my expert opinion, and others do enjoy doing this, as well, each project must take responsibility for sharing their opinions. It’s not about being right. It’s about making sure nothing is missed nor misconstrued. And team-members should never be made to feel they can’t question the expert to get details behind an idea or decision.