The grid of inquiry

Expertise and firmly held beliefs don’t always go together.

Here’s a simple XY grid to help us choose where to sit at whatever table we’re invited to:

Plenty of well-trained professionals have earned the right to have strongly held beliefs. These convictions save them time and error, particularly if the world is stable. Surgeons, jugglers and historians make countless decisions, and they rarely have the time or resources to reconsider each underlying factor. This makes them efficient, but can also cause a field to get stuck.

Fortunately, there are innovators. These are individuals with plenty of experience and training who have chosen to be flexible, to repeatedly ask ‘what if’ and ‘why’. When an innovator suggests a counter-intuitive or even nutty concept, it might pay to listen carefully.

For most of us, most of the time, we have the chance to be curious. We don’t have a lot of domain knowledge, but we’re able to ask intelligent questions and to listen carefully to the answers. The hallmark of a curious person with goodwill is that they’re eager to change their minds.

Alas, social media has elevated the foolish. People possessing little in the way of expertise, and generally unwilling to change their assertions or goals.

Where do you sit?

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