Scientist vs Expert: Cultivate the scientist in you, send the Expert for a sabbatical.

Niels Bohr and Albert Einstein. The picture wa...

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Marc Goedhart, Rishi Raj & Abhishek Saxena, all three eminent consultants at Mckinsey had a very surprising finding to report in Spring 2010. Stock market analyst are followed by millions of investors for advice. They literally hold the Boards of many multinational companies to ransom over the earnings forecast. But these expert have got market right only on few occasions. In fact forecasting is a risky, especially about the future. Thus we should not be too harsh on them. But the report says that only 2 times in last 25 years has actual growth surpassed the analyst forecast. That is not acceptable.

Nonetheless, expertise is extremely valued in today’s world. People who are considered experts in their field make huge amount of money as their expertise is valued. How would one define an expert. “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” – Niels Bohr (1885-1962). That is possibly the reason Cricketers after retirement become expert commentators, managers quit their firms to become consultants, and media personnel past their prime become award juries. There is nothing wrong in this. In fact the word expert & experience has similar root. Experience is a very good teacher.

The Expert based on his or her experience is able to visualize what can happen & thus is able to see what will work & what will not. Thus his experience provides him unique ability to predict the future. This gives him means to take the right decision & deliver the best performance. Our entire education is designed to create experts. We not only learn from our experience but the experience of many generations before us which is brought to us as knowledge.

Scientist, on the other hand, conjure a completely different image. Some one who is a bit eccentric, in pursuit of his passion. They are certainly valued but the Value attached to them may not be always measured in terms of monetary wealth. The best definition has come from a very unlikely source “Nothing shocks me, I am a scientist” by Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones. The scientist is interested in finding out & thus is open to all possibilities. For his thoughts are just hypothesis which needs to be verified. Whether he is right is secondary finding the truth in the primary objective.

The scientist is an eternal student. The unknown attract him. His experience teaches him what works & what does not. His curiosity leads him to finding why it works & why it does not. A scientist is also an expert but he is focus is on the unknown. Thus his expertise keeps on increasing. Also since he is discoverer of truth, if the original hypothesis is found to be wrong it does not demotivate him. Also failures are just experiments which have to be learned from. Thus scientists can be far more innovative.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s mind there are few. ” said Shunryu Suzuki. No one is an expert all the time or a scientist all the time. It is just a state of mind. If we are able to cultivate a mind-set of scientist we can learn far more, achieve much more, enjoy more, live a fulfilling life. Thus be a scientist, send the expert for a sabbatical, forever.

A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale. – Marie Currie. Be the child who loves to explore & learn.

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One Response to Scientist vs Expert: Cultivate the scientist in you, send the Expert for a sabbatical.

  1. I love that quote by Suzuki! Well written post, Uday. I am richer for reading it…

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