Expertise worth paying for

As I get older, it's fair to say I'm becoming a bit more frugal. I realize how hard I work for what I earn, and I am constantly balancing the benefits of paying somebody else to do work that I know I could do on my own. (My maker mindset hasn't made this any easier -- a YouTube video, some tools and we can do just about anything!)

Recently I have had the chance to work with true experts in very different fields.

In my work life, I've had the chance to work with representatives from Qualtrics. This is a company that has invested millions in product development and testing, that has hired some of the brightest minds in the fields of research, computer science, data analysis, and that has brought all of that expertise together to develop a great product to help companies, schools, and students make accurate, data informed decisions. They have staked their reputation and the livelihoods of each of their employees on being the best at helping clients make the right decisions. It is quite a company, quite a product, and their expertise shines through in every interaction I have with the company.

In another part of my life, the home remodel of our kitchen, I have had the opportunity to work with a true craftsman. Randy is a person that is generations deep in his family knowledge and tradition of construction, both in rough and finish carpentry. He has spent his entire life deepening his knowledge, problem solving through projects, and honing his skills as a carpenter. His expertise and attention to detail day-in, day-out is the key to his ability to pay his bills, feed his family, and earn a living. His expertise shines through in every way as you watch him work.

This is not unlike the school systems we work in as educators. Educators and educational systems have a ton of expertise within them. We have people skills, content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, creativity, problem solving abilities. If school systems were companies for hire, there would be no competitor for many of the projects for which they were hired; the talent pool, expertise, and know-how of schools systems is just that rich. 

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True Expertise...

sometimes you get what you are willing to pay for!

However, even in schools, there are blind spots and areas where our lack of expertise shines through.  Perhaps it is realizing where these blind spots are within our systems, acknowledging where our weaknesses and  lack of expertise  shines through, and then finding/hiring those who can fill our gaps that is one of our greatest responsibilities as educational leaders. Why spend time writing surveys that won't yield the data we most need when there are people who can help us get the right answers out of the gate? Why throw darts at understanding the complexities of our relationships with our customers when there are people can help us understand the science of client wants and needs?

Or as my wife asks me: Why spend unnecessary time and money on materials putting in the finishing trim, when we can hire somebody who will make it look better than we ever would be able to?

She has a point.