Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Being An “Expert”

In the security profession  – or in any discipline really – being an “expert” or “expert witness” is usually not a position to which one aspires at an early age.  It often comes first as an ancillary endeavor, then perhaps as a full-time profession.  It usually comes mid-career, and often endures past career prime and even past normal retirement time.  So how does one “become” an expert?  Is there a course or test that must be taken to “become” an expert?  Here’s the reality:
One does not necessarily seek recognition as an “expert;” and “expert” is not a connotation or designation bestowed on oneself – it is status or standing in one’s profession as attested to and recognized and conferred by others.  Therefore, there is – and really can be – no course of study or training program or test that culminates with the title of “expert” since a true “expert” does not become so until the expertise is recognized by others.
An “expert” is generally recognized for a composite of professional education, training, experience, expertise, analytical skills, writing skills, presentation skills, involvement in professional organizations, involvement in professional activities as a volunteer, professional and personal integrity, professional and personal credibility – and having a good track record in all the aforementioned.  And in addition to these attributes, “experts” usually have some other traits that are acknowledged by others:   He is the “go-to” guy within his organization;  he is a “go-to” guy within one’s industry and/or among one’s professional peers;  he is actively sought to help with resolving problems or improving operations or developing strategies or developing policies and procedures – being sought to do for others what they should/could be doing for themselves.  He is regarded as the person who will almost undoubtedly do the right thing or have the right answer at the right time.
So being the smartest man in the world by self-appointment – even if true – does not make one an “expert” as the term is being used here.  Rather, it is the acknowledgement by others that one is the right person to do a particular job that distinguishes one as an “expert.”