I will certainly not teach you that nowadays we are facing challenges that are increasingly complex… The need for specialized knowledge and skills in both professional and technical fields is critical for numerous organizations, and issues depend on everyone’s capacities.

Therefore, the organizations’ requirements towards their employees are cumbersome and, with such complexity, their intentions and communications with regard to people are altered or deteriorated. Experts, professionals are essential and wanted. However, what are we exactly looking for when seeking these profiles?

During a course I took with Scrum.org, we had fruitful discussions that brought out the need for participants to consider with intention where software development should be headed and how each and everyone should contribute to it. Here is an abstract that, I hope, will make you think and reflect as much as it did for me during the last few days.

What’s the difference?

The expert

If we refer to Wikipedia: “The expert is a person with extensive knowledge or ability based on research, experience, or occupation and in a particular area of study.” It is important to differentiate them from the scientists and specialists.

Nowadays, we often notice that, in large organizations, when certain teams face unknown problems or factors, the expert is rushed to the rescue.

Unfortunately, very often this person is not involved in the project’s reality and they only transmit a little bit of knowledge, plus they do not give much advice to the members of the team who are, for their part, really involved in the development. Depending on ad hoc interventions from experts give room to the following: communications with a content that is questionable, half-hearted initiatives, and a limited capacity for self-organization.

Attention! I’m not saying that experts are not capable or that we need not to ask for their help. However, their knowledge and the recognition obtained from their peers are not enough. For instance, a title, certifications, or superfluous participation do not compensate for pragmatism, strong human values, and the personal and professional development of our colleagues. We should not rest on fragile acquired knowledge; let’s invest in our teams!

The professional

Sadly, while writing this post and looking for references, I realized that the definition for professional on Wikipedia is quite short. Is it a bad sign?

If professionals also have a certain experience, their strong commitment to a group, the society, and its expectations is particularly noticeable and appreciated.

Do you know the professionals who are working with you? Do you consider yourself one? What are the traits, values, and strengths of professionals? What are the qualities they could need compared to that of a renowned expert in the same environment?

The challenge

I invite you to do the following exercise with your colleagues and share your experience in the comment section at the bottom of the page:

  • Watch this video with your team.
  • Ask participants whether or not they are experts.
  • Then, ask them to describe themselves in just a few words and qualities.
  • No matter if they mentioned the word “professional”, ask them what are the qualities related to this function.
  • If you have time (approximately 30 minutes), perform the mission that is asked from the expert in the video in order to see how these qualities support the professional rather than the expert:
    • Draw 7 red lines that are strictly perpendicular.
    • Draw certain lines with green ink, others with red ink, and others with transparent ink.
    • One of the lines has to be in the shape of a kitten.
  • Now, watch a creative solution to this challenge!

Let’s recap

The organization is being served in a limited way if expertise is used solely. In fact, most of the time, it only meets the needs of the expert. Furthermore, the outcome produced by this person is notably little seen and little used.

In order to help our profession and our peers and to develop our potential no matter our “side” or seniority, we should all express ourselves and act as professionals.

Can you see the connection with the Agile principles and values? I invite you to continue this reflection and, as usual, to post a comment and tell us about your experiences. We’ll be pleased to read you and keep the conversation going!

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romain trocherie

Romain is a Scrum Master at Pyxis Suisse. He helps teams reveal and develop their full potential. He is also known for his ability to experiment, inspect, and revolutionize processes. Contact him to find out how he can contribute to the success of your teams.

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