An Employee Workshop for Aspiring Experts

Unconventional Workshop 14

Test Ideas, Find Success or Failure

Individual work-process 9

1) Foster curiosity
2) Initiate activity
3) Gain relevant information
4) Discover possibilities
5) Strategize
6) Commit to a project
7) Create ideas
8) Realize ideas
9) Test ideas, find success or failure
10) Use failure as a platform for new and better ideas
11) Repeat part or all of the process
12) Eventually, find achievement
Bonus – Ultimately, gain some level of mastery

As human beings, we have the potential to become experts. As experts, we have the potential to greatly benefit the human kind.

Circumference of career stability
When it comes to physical health, human beings have a built-in safeguards that keeps us within a circumference of physical safety. We may wander far, but when we wander too far, we will feel the threat of danger and we turn back. Within our careers, we also have built-in safeguards that keep us within a circumference of career stability. Our position requires specific results and we have to stay within the circle of activity that provides these results. If we are unable to provide results over a period of time, our career could very well be in danger. Repeatable work habits are very predictable, so they will usually provide results with little risk. If we keep our foot on the gas, we will usually arrive at our destination.

Skilled work within traditional establishment positions have a circumference of career stability; some written, some unwritten. There are governmental, company, industry and traditional ways of doing things. Keeping up with all aspects of a profession or skilled trade is more mandatory than voluntary, but keeping up means career longevity.

Organized unions impose a circumference of career stability within a written contract, to protect their members. When a union contract comes up for renewal, the circumference sees heavy pressure from each side. If a contractual circumference does not sufficiently follow market conditions; the company, the union or both can become unstable.

For Unconventional Experts, career protection means results. There is no circumference of career stability. This is tricky, since the individual work-process includes failure. How can an Unconventional Expert produce results and failure at the same time? It is important to understand that the foundation of every position is in the requirements. First and foremost, all employees have to provide results consistent with the agreements they make with their employer. Although, being on an expert-trek can be beneficial to one’s company, it is a personal journey that needs to be traveled above and beyond the requirements of the position. If the individual work-process causes risk for the employer, the employer has the right to accept or deny the risk. Work with risk should always commence as a partnership, between the employee and employer, with expectations in plain view.

Companies take the risk
Certainly, there are jobs that require workers to take risks, from a health perspective. Financially and legally, companies take the brunt of risk. Outside of an employee’s circumference of career stability stands the employer; the foundation of the stability. In the free market, it is the survival of the fittest and companies that fall tend to fall quite hard. People who leave their jobs to start their own company learn this very quickly. Although, employment can end at any time, the umbrella that a company provides its employees should be appreciated. Companies are in existence to provide a good and/or service, but they can’t sell a single widget without compliance with laws, regulations, taxes and insurance policies. Operating expenses range from company to company, but they are never small. In the marketplace, goods and services battle each other and companies risk everything. Winning market share is necessary, but market share means nothing without adequate profitability. At a moment’s notice, the rules of the game can change. Trying to stay ahead of the game is nearly impossible. Not trying could be detrimental.

Most employees are sheltered from this storm. If an employee has a bad day, they can take a personal day. Companies don’t get personal days, they have to be structurally sound all of the time. Of risk and reward, the employee gets the much better deal. If a company compensates an employee, supports expert-level growth and takes the brunt of the risks, that company is providing a top opportunity. In comparison, colleges supportive expert-level growth, however, they take no risk and they charge people money rather than pay people money.

Avoidance of failure
When a career functions comfortably within the parameters of a circumference of career stability, the concept of failure is removed. The company takes care of risk and failure takes place outside of the circumference. The employee needs to produce activity within the circle and achieve results. Failure outside of the circumference is someone else’s failure, so risk needs to stay outside of the circumference as well.

In many ways, the difference between an expert and a non-expert is the understanding of risk and failure.

Experts accept risk and can handle failure.

These groups split expert into three groups with one group being for non-expert work. One of the ambitions of Culture of Experts is to find Unconventional Experts or potential Unconventional Experts that work within a structured, repetitive, task-oriented, company-process-driven, unskilled-to-midskilled non-expert positions represented by group #1 and move them to unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent, project-oriented Unconventional Expert positions, represented in group #4.
There are other advantages to separating these groups as well. When one is looking at a career position, project or body of work, it pays to know which parts of the work are (group #1) structured, repetitive, task-oriented and (company or historical) process-driven and which parts of the work are(group #4) unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent and project oriented. By isolating and defining tasks, there are a number of different strategies that can result.

1) Within a career position, project or body of work, find and separate group #1 and group #4 parts.

Within a company, management can separate positions into groups to help form strategies. For Unconventional Experts, there should be an awareness of the work they are doing and use it to find advantages.

Perform group #4 work when one is fresh and full of energy. Perform group #1 work to rest parts of the brain.

Create good habits by adding repetitive work to one’s day, to replace time that would otherwise be down-time.

Take group #1 work and standardize the work-process that can be more easily repeated.

Take group #1 work and find technology tools to make it easier.

Take group #1 work and have someone else perform it, so that the focus can be on group #4 work.

When an expert needs expertise
An Unconventional Expert auto mechanic had to replace an alternator. Because he had performed this work so many times, he had created a repetitive process for the it, which made the change very fast. One might call this group #1 work, because it is structured, repetitive, task-oriented, company-process-driven to him. Almost anyone could perform this work, if this is all they did. The auto mechanic finished the work, however, the new alternator instantly broke. He replaced it with another, and the second one instantly broke as well. Now, the work is no longer group #1 work, as it has become unstructured, complex, creativity-driven, strategy-dependent and project-oriented; requiring trouble shooting to identify the issue. Within an individual work-process, the issue was found with help from an internet search and a conversations with a different mechanic. With a quick repair, the car was working correctly.

Unconventional Experts typically know when to intensify their work, when they need to meet more complex needs. Standardizing process and using strategies to efficiently use time and resources is a learned best practice.

Unconventional expert attributes associated with failure

[√] See obstacles like puzzles that need to be solved.
[√] Obsess over obstacle, until they are resolved.
[√] Do not label failures as failures, when they exist within their individual work-process.
[√] Most often bring failure onto themselves as they are not afraid to test their ideas.
[√] Gladly take full responsibility for the failures that happen within their individual work-process.
[√] Would rather overcome obstacles themselves, rather than pass on to others.
[√] Create projects to overcome obstacles when they exist on a larger scale.
[√] See value in the information gleaned from failure and use failure as a platform for new and better ideas.

Wishful thinking
Unconventional experts see obstacles as puzzles that need to be solved. When moving forward with a project and testing ideas, there is an expectation for obstacles.

There are three truths.
1) Nothing is easy.
2) Obstacles are simply revealing the truth about how difficult or easy something is.
3) If obstacles or the possibility of obstacles stops forward movement, there is not an attempt in play that reflects reality.

Wishful thinking is a dangerous way of looking at life. It is childish:

Dependent on authority figures
Try to manipulate others
Escape responsibility – conformity to what others are doing
Begging attitude towards life, life owes them something

wis·dom – the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment.

con·ven·tion·al wis·dom – a generally accepted theory or belief.

un·con·ven·tion·al wis·dom – the quality of having experience, knowledge and good judgment; within a theory or belief that is not generally accepted.

In this module we will collect related topics that do not fit into other modules. This module is a work in progress.



When Thomas Edison was asked about the 1,000 failures that preceded the invention of the light bulb,
he replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”

Failure: Part of the process

Within the interview process, it is a common practice for interviewers to ask candidates about the failures that they had experienced within their careers. Candidates are asked to cite a specific failure. The conversations that follow will try to determine who the candidate blames for the failure and what actions they took to to overcome the obstacles they encountered. If the candidate is quick to blame outside forces for the failure, it raises concern over their ability to take responsibility for their work. If the candidate did not take appropriate action to overcome the obstacles, their problem solving skills come into question.

When interviewing Unconventional Experts, this questioning strategy might be flawed. Unconventional Experts look at failure differently. They are intimate with failure, as it is a part of their individual work-process. They may not even label their most ambitious failures as failures, but steps within the process. Talking about failure from a 20,000 foot view will not inspire answers that reflect their true potential.

Within a Culture of Experts, interview questions pertaining to failure should be asked at a much more granular level, within the context of the Unconventional Expert work-process. Interview questions for Unconventional Experts are summarized in module #12.

Go for the no

Within the sales world, there is an old saying: “Go for the no.” This means to drive the sale forward until the customer says no. Once the customer declines, the process is finished and the salesperson can move on to the next customer. This advice isn’t an attempt to get a no, it is to share understanding of the sales process. The sales process is simply a process and failure is a part of that process.

Obstacles do not block the path, they are the path.

Zen proverb

Unconventional Expert attributes associated with failure

[√] See obstacles like puzzles that need to be solved.
[√] Obsess over obstacle, until they are resolved.
[√] Do not label failures as failures, when they exist within their individual work-process.
[√] Most often bring failure onto themselves as they are not afraid to test their ideas.
[√] Gladly take full responsibility for the failures that happen within their individual work-process.
[√] Would rather overcome obstacles themselves, rather than pass on to others.
[√] Create projects to overcome obstacles when they exist on a larger scale.
[√] See value in the information gleaned from failure and use failure as a platform for new and better ideas.

Unconventional Experts are problem solvers, but may not consider themselves as such.
To them, failure is simply a part of their individual work-process.


Change (coming soon):

“There are no knowns.
There are things we know that we know.
There are known unknowns.
That is to say there are things that we now know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns.
There are things we do not know we don’t know.”

Donald Rumsfeld

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

Charles Darwin

UnconventionalEXPERTS Workshops are provided By Human Castle Executive Search.
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