See the wood for the SMEs
In my previous blog post, Everyone is an SME, I argued that all the employees in your organisation have knowledge and skills to share, because everyone is an SME in something.
Sometimes this “something” is obvious because it’s a part of their job. For example, Sam the superannuation administrator is obviously an SME in unit switching, because he processes dozens of unit switches every day.
But sometimes the something isn’t so obvious, because we’re either too blind to see it, or – Heaven forbid – our colleagues have lives outside of the workplace.
Consider Martha, the tea lady. Obviously she’s an SME in the dispensation of hot beverages. That’s her job.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that she’s also an SME in customer service and relationship management. That’s her job, too.
Oh, and she speaks fluent Polish and Russian.
May I also introduce you to Gavin, the IT grad. Gavin is proficient in several programming languages, as you would expect. In his spare time, he develops iPhone apps for fun.
You’re working on a mobile strategy, right?
Then there’s Li, the Business Development Manager. Li’s an expert in socratic selling and knows your product specs off by heart, but did you know she’s halfway through a Master of International Business degree?
She also recently emigrated from China – you know, that consumer market you want to break into.
My point is, when we seek subject matter expertise for a project, a forum, a working group, an advisory board, or merely to answer a question, we might not see the wood for the trees are in the way.
Does your organisation have a searchable personnel directory that captures everyone’s expertise? Their experiences? Their education? Their interests? The languages they speak?
If not, you are probably oblivious to the true value of your payroll.