I’ve been struggling with the answer to a simple question: “Can you reverse knowledge bias?”
How we perceive people in society is largely dependent on a narrow perspective bias that associates one’s knowledge based on education and vocation. This is not surprising since it helps us better understand our functional roles within the larger ecosystem of life.
For the past 23+ years, I have diligently worked towards becoming a pre-eminent expert in health & medicine, largely within the context of innovation. However, the more I learned (and the more of a “specialized expert” I became), I realized the less I knew. In order for me to best deliver for my clients, I needed to find a way to de-specialize my knowledge bias from within the healthcare silo and broaden my perspectives into peripheral industries, practices, learnings, etc.
Yes, I’m a doctor, but that does not solely define my expertise, knowledge ,and perspectives. Although healthcare is my primary profession, much of what I do and how I think is defined by my peripheral points of view….being a speaker, writer, professor, entrepreneur, executive, advisor, investor, drummer, adventurist, concert lover, education junkie, reading addict, and much much more.
As we become super-specialized in our domain, we tend to become myopic in our perspectives; much at the sacrifice of our peripheral understanding of the world. A failure to understand how markets, businesses, experiences, etc collide and intersect with each other is a failure to understand how people behave and experience the world…in other words, it’s a failure to understand how people consume and engage with your products/services.
While I am certainly not advocating that we should all become generalists, what I am suggesting is that we should not limit ourselves to a silo’d way of thinking by only encouraging the development of super-specialists. To effectively succeed, we must not only nourish our core expertise, but we must also encourage a diversified understanding of our periphery to get a wholistic viewpoint and unbiased perspective.
UNUSUAL TIP: Although I believe it is highly important for everyone to find their niche and knowledge expertise as it pertains to their primary passion and interest; we must recognize that passion, interest, and knowledge are not singular words. They are defined by multi-faceted perspectives and points of view. So, as you build out your core expertise, be sure to incorporate your learnings and perspectives from your peripheral viewpoints and seek out divergent perspectives that are contrary to your own. By doing so, it will help remove biases, and open a a whole new world of innovative opportunities.
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>>>> PS: To help broaden my perspectives (and to help others looking to do the same), I am lunching a new storytelling event called UNUSUAL INTERSECTIONS on September 27, 2015 in partnership with TEDxMidAtlantic in Washington, DC. The private, intimate event is designed to cross-pollinate ideas from leaders of divergent industries to solve common problems. If you are interested in receiving updates about the event, please sign up for my blog to be notified. If you are interested in volunteering or sponsoring the event, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org (FYI: formal announcement, website and event details coming soon)