Amy Rees Anderson

Less knowledgeable doesn’t mean less valuable

There is a natural tendency when a person gains deep knowledge of a subject to begin to elevate themselves in their own mind as being “better than” or above other people who they feel are less knowledgeable.  What is too often forgotten is that while one may have great expertise in one area, there are limitless other areas that one doesn’t have as much knowledge as another does. And no one area of knowledge should be seen as “higher than” or “better than” another – each area of knowledge is equally valuable…not better, not worse, not more than, not less than…rather each area is equally important.

By way of example, a person who is knowledgeable about computer programming isn’t above or below a person who is knowledgeable about medicine and a person who is knowledgeable about medicine isn’t above or below a person who is knowledgeable about sales. The same goes for a person who gained certain knowledge siting in a classroom to earn a PhD versus a person who gained certain knowledge through having real-world experiences…both have equally valuable knowledge.

And some would even argue that is those without deep knowledge who can actually bring the greatest value, such as Liz Wiseman, former VP at Oracle shared in a keynote speech given at a University:

“…when we are inexperienced at something, when we are in this rookie space, when we are doing something really hard and really important, and when we are doing it for the very first time, we operate in some really predictable and very interesting ways. They are simple ways, but they are extraordinarily powerful—­particularly for the environment in which we live right now. We found that when we are in this rookie mode—whether we are twenty-five years old or sixty-five years old—we operate unencumbered by knowledge, so we see more possibilities and we explore more. We lack know-how, so we have to go out and get it.

When we are in this rookie space, we ask better questions. We are more alert. We listen more. We value feedback. We seek feedback. When we are operating without a lot of expertise, we actually tend to bring in more expertise because we consult with so many people and we mobilize the expertise of others. Contrary to popular opinion, when we are in this rookie zone, we are not big, bold risk-takers; we are actually extremely cautious. But we are fast. With knowledge work, rookies tend to outperform people in both innovation and speed. We operate when we are on a frontier in scrappy ways. We improvise, we are lean, we are agile, and we stay close to our customers, because when we lack resources, that is when we get really resourceful.”

Never discount the value you can bring to the table even if you don’t have all the knowledge you would like.  And never discount a person who appears to have less knowledge about something than you do.  More knowledgeable doesn’t equate to more valuable – have confidence in the value you can bring!

~Amy Rees Anderson

2 Comments

  • Dolly Wright says:

    Love this! (My husband has always described me as scrappy and this expands the whole description in nuanced ways that I have always felt but didn’t quite articulate.)

    My chagrin here is that I did reach a point where I momentarily believed that my increasing base of knowledge gave me a leg up on some folks. I’ve been repenting of that ever since I found out what a jerk that made me for a minute.

    I’m glad I’ve always valued my rookie life.

  • Hi, all is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing
    data, that’s actually good, keep up writing.

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