Articulating Expertise

In James Atherton’s Competence, Proficiency and Beyond article, he frames for us why experts often come up short when trying to explain how they utilise their knowledge and experience:

“Real experts may not actually be able to articulate how they go about decision-making: they have been known to fall back on the merely competent account which they were taught, because they cannot explain their “hunches” or believe that they could not justify them in the discourse of the conventional wisdom of their discipline“.

The opportunity for L&D and Knowledge Management programs is to find mechanisms which surface this expertise and re-articulate it into more explicit terms. Hoffman et al (1995) present a range of activities to help elicit knowledge from experts, including

  • Analyse the documents used by experts to find commonalities in processes and procedures
  • Task analysis and process mapping
  • Think aloud problem solving using unusual cases or test cases
  • Unstructured or open ended question interviews
  • Structured interviews using questions focused on the concepts, procedures and ‘logic’ or reasoning processes specific to the domain
  • Event recall interviews in which critical incidents are analysed in reverse order
  • Rating and sorting content
  • Creating mind maps and decision trees