If there’s one thing that being a Trekker (Star Trek connoisseur) has taught me, it’s that successful leaders do not necessarily have to be the most knowledgeable people. They are, however, some of the most resourceful people. The challenge is that we all have different ways in going about being resourceful and problem solving. Captain Kirk relied on Spock…Captain Piccard on Data…and Captain Sisko on Dax; today, we rely mostly on “Google”…whatever that means for you. Familiarity with the aforementioned characters is not important but you (hopefully) get my point. So, if the end goal of problem solving is to obtain and transfer knowledge, how does one define “resourcefulness”? Does one’s approach matter?
It’s not news that building expertise in anything (regardless of scope size) is a time-consuming activity, simply because scope of knowledge is arguably infinite. Within large-scale work projects, one is typically exposed to unfamiliar areas and so it makes sense to kick one’s resourcefulness into high gear to compensate for a lack of expertise. Leveraging the work of others from “Google” or elsewhere is a way to exhibit your resourcefulness but this should not be the modus operandi in acquiring knowledge and problem solving, specifically in a “copy and paste” manner.
Relying solely on applying the solutions from “Google” to solve your team’s problems might work sometimes but it can also have unintended outcomes. To elaborate, the Dunning-Kruger effect is defined simply as: the less you know, the more you think you know. A negative outcome of this effect is missing out on the obvious: that other solutions (optimal or not) also and may already exist. When you find a tried and true solution from anywhere, take the time to think critically on how the solution may not be a fit for your team and project’s goals…otherwise you will miss a learning opportunity and/or, worst case scenario, display a disconnect with your team and the context of the problem(s) you are trying to solve.
For me, step 1 of being resourceful is acknowledging that I do not know.
“I know that I do not know” is not a celebration of ignorance, but rather a realization that absolute certainty on anything is not a given…or, as Socrates would suggest in the “Apology of Socrates”: one cannot know anything with absolute certainty but can feel confident about certain things [that I do not know]”. The intent of this acknowledgment is not to humble myself but to be true to myself and my team, given my non-expert knowledge.
Problem solving, in my opinion, is not a self-serving exercise but an opportunity to add value to my team by challenging any form of myopic thinking as supposed to potentially bringing in the myopic views from elsewhere and falsely repackaging it as a “best practice”.
Anyway, back to the Trek universe…I wish you all much Qapla (pronounced Kap-la!) on your professional growth!