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An unmeasurable benefit – knowledge

October 5, 2009

One of the most interesting aspects of working in a credit union is the knowledge that one accumulates about financial services. I spent some time with four individuals these past days giving advice on how they may want to proceed with some of their plans. It took a bit of time and it wasn’t difficult. On further reflection I wondered where they could have gotten those insights.

I am listening to the audiobook “The Outliers” on the commute to and from work. One chapter talked about the 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in any field. It seems that anyone that has been in a profession for a period of time has accumulated those hours to become such an expert. We have all practiced our trade. But the key here and specified in the book was that someone was given the opportunity to becoming experts by allowing them the resources available to learn. That someone, who I would call an employee, should be given that opportunity within the credit union to develop and practice those skills that allows them to become an expert. It is not that everyone is going to have the ability to give every kind of advice or become an expert, that would be impossible, but when you have seen a circumstance or event take place and have learnt what the best way to approach the solution is, you will be called upon to share that solution.

What is difficult is to create that culture of learning in order for individuals to develop into experts in their field. It also comes at a price. Most individuals that are mentored will excel in a specific area of knowledge beyond what you are at. It takes time. 10,000 hours means practicing for 3 hours a day for 10 years! There will be but a few that arrive at the truly expert level. It is imperative that any organization practices the transfer of knowledge and gives the ability of all staff to acquire that knowledge. This should be the norm. This should be the culture that everyone understands it to be.  Expertise is usually developed in a specialized area and financial services certainly is specialized. Maybe it isn’t all about ‘arriving’ but just that there is a ‘journey’ that counts.

One of the most surprising aspects of Twitter and blogs has been the ability to tap into a huge amount of knowledge that is current and relevant. Something is hot off the press everyday. Marrying what you experience in the workplace with the Internet offerings puts all of us in a remarkable environment. It is up to each person though to take the opportunity to practice and share the knowledge afforded them. For employers or bosses it must be a given. It is something social media does offer.

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