No one is an OSS expert

Everyone’s an OSS expert, but no one is an OSS  expert
Ryan Jeffery
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There are so many slivers of OSS. They are broad categories such as processes, infrastructure, databases, network engineering, programming, interfaces, sales, operations, strategy, communications, change management, marketing, services, leadership, field-workforce, products, design, etc, etc. The number of possible categories is huge. But then each category can be broken down into slivers of expertise within it.

Everyone who is in OSS (and many who aren’t even) has expertise in one or more slivers of relevance to OSS. Nobody has expertise in every single sliver.

How many of you have ever seen the “OSS expert” treating the “non-OSS expert” with disdain, dismissing their ideas out of hand because they don’t have the requisite background in wrestling with OSS? How many of you have ever been the “OSS expert” talking down to others? Unfortunately, me. I have to admit to moments of weakness where I haven’t listened as intently as I should’ve to the stories or perspectives of others.

But since everyone is an expert, everyone has something to teach, to inform. We all have to act as what Seth Godin calls “generous sceptics,” to intently listen to others whose opinions could act to broaden your knowledge from their slivers of expertise.

As Seth states, “”Tell me more about that,” is the useful and productive response, not, “no, you’re wrong, you don’t understand.” There’s always time to ignore this feedback later. Right now, dive into it, with an eager, open mind. It’s a gift you’re not often offered.”

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