CHAPTER 19

Make Yourself an Expert

by Dorothy Leonard, Gavin Barton, and Michelle A. Barton

“I don’t know what we’d do without him!” That’s what an executive in a Fortune 100 company recently told us about a brilliant project leader. We’ve heard the same sentiment expressed about many highly skilled specialists during the hundred-plus interviews we’ve conducted as part of our research into knowledge use and sharing. In organizations large and small, including NASA, the U.S. Forest Service, SAP, and Raytheon, managers spoke of their dependence on colleagues who have “deep smarts”—business-critical expertise, built up through years of experience, which helps them make wise, swift decisions about both strategy and tactics. These mavens may be top ...

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