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How To Manage When Experts Make Mistakes“The most dangerous kind of overconfidence in our abilities comes not when we are already skilled at a task but when we are still unskilled.” The Invisible Gorilla, And Other Ways Our Intuitions Deceive Us by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons.

In the case of computer operations in the Air Force, during my career, personal computers and other personal information systems became ubiquitous and because everyone now had a computer, everyone was sure they knew how to manage them!

I recall “experts” starting massive system backups in the middle of the day when people were trying to get work done. The systems then became so slow that they were unusable for hours at a time. I could tell when this happened because everyone was out in the aisles and hallways frustrated and complaining.

See also why We Don’t Need All Those Experts

In another case the “expert” didn’t think the system was running quite right, so he walked over to the server and rebooted it — again with dozens of people using it to get work done.

I recall telling a team that system maintenance should be done in the evenings and on weekends so as not to impact people doing their daily jobs. They looked at me incredulously and said that they didn’t work those hours. They work the same hours everyone else did so that is when they would shutdown the system and do maintenance which was during the normal work hours.

I’m not kidding and yes it is a lot better today. But keep in mind that we are probably doing similar inexpert things with our existing systems that we did in the past. And while we’ll figure it out eventually, knowing in advance that even “experts” do these kind of silly things will help ensure we’ll figure it out sooner. Hopefully soon enough that we can still get a strategic advantage out of doing it right. Then we’ll truly be experts.

Are all your experts really experts or are some still in the learning phase and only sounding like experts?

Thank you for sharing!

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