Appendix A A-3
Tips for Working with Experts Outside Your Area of Expertise
Try some of these techniques for working with experts outside your area of expertise.
Get them involved early on in the project, and ask them to help you plan, in detail, all the
activities associated with their part of the project.
Openly express your respect for their professional judgment, and frequently seek their
Let them know you aren’t pretending to know their profession.
Don’t try to micromanage their specific actions. Instead, focus on their results by repeatedly
referring to the deliverables specifications and formal statement of project scope.
Ask them to provide you with overview information relating to their field. (These might take
the form of handbooks, primers, slide presentations, promotional videos from professional
associations, and so on.)
Ask them to describe for you the essential characteristics of finished products and work
processes in their field. In other words, find out where their professional values lie and in
what situations you can expect them to fight for these values.
Single out a “friendly” expert and ask him or her to help you learn the jargon, acronyms,
and underlying values of the profession. Ask this person to coach you or help you prepare
for difficult meetings with his or her colleagues.
Try to establish some basis of commonality. Go to lunch and get acquainted. Do you both
enjoy hiking? The opera? Your children? Remember, when you regard each other as people
and not merely as robots performing job roles, you are both more likely to spend the energy
necessary to achieve understanding.