Knowing Enough to be Dangerous

When you know "enough to be dangerous" in a particular field, you are dangerous.


Consider, for example, one of my first jobs. I had some working knowledge of Excel, but not an extensive working knowledge.


So using the sort function, I was able to sort one column, but I didn't extend it to sort all the rows. So this one column was sorted correctly, but none of the other information on the spreadsheet was correct… on a project planning document… that was very important… and was shared by 8 other teammates. (This was years ago, I know how to use Excel now, by the way, and ask if I have questions).


Thank goodness for revisions control and backups, but my point is this: if you don't know what you're doing, consider working closely with someone who does know how to do it right.


I call this the "ask an expert" test. A truly competent person will understand when they've reached the limitations of their abilities, and they call in reinforcements — they ask an expert (or at least, someone who has more experience in this particular issue).


A not-so-competent person will try and "cover" for their ignorance by dabbling here and maybe changing things around there, and then you have a worse situation than before.


If you don't know what you're doing,  STOP and reassess.


This is not a personal judgement or an attack on your ability. It's merely a by-product of the narrowing of knowledge and the rise of specialists. You don't know everything. I don't know everything. One person does not know everything. But a smart person evaluates when the situation is beyond their control, and they know who to ask.


The most agile team is made up of multiple people, preferably people who have different strengths and who can bring different perspectives to a situation. Then you get a more responsive and responsible approach to your project, campaign, or service offering.


Don't know how to do it? Think you might break the _______ (fill in the blank) if you try ___________ ?

It probably will break!


Take the time and ask someone who knows how to do it. They might have done that same task hundreds of times. They might know some tips to make the overall process more smooth or easier to understand. If you do something once or twice, and that other person does the same thing 10 hours a day, I think you'd benefit from that other person's expertise.


There are plenty of specialists in LinkedIn within your own personal network.


Don't be dangerous! Get professional expertise and get the job done the right way.


Monica S. Flores has been developing websites through 10kWebdesign since 2004. She believes in the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profits. She creates effective, engaging websites for women-owned companies, green businesses, and progressive organizations: her focus is on organic, holistic, fair trade, and sustainable work, and she's committed to Drupal development. Follow her on Twitter as @monicadear.


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