1950s: The astrophysicist of yesteryear studied in relative isolation, probably in an exclusive school gleaning formulae from weighty tomes speaking almost exclusively among (usually) his limited universe of peers. Very few understood or related to his comprehension of relativity.
Today: The astrophysicist delivers online classes from MIT widely available on MOOC platforms watched by your curious and precocious 12-year-old. Your son or daughter jumps on social media to post a cool link to the lecture. Friends “like” it or comment that s/he is a nerd or a rocket scientist or give your child some other widely acknowledged nod of approval. The NextGen astrophysicist is in the flow of like minds.
Two radically different cultural and educational milieu are going to produce two very different individuals. An experience of isolation and exception versus an experience of community and commonality will affect the human personality, both how they see themselves and how they see their place in the world.
A Traditional Expert will carry the experience all his life of being exceptional, being misunderstood and being isolated from the mainstream. A NextGen expert swims in the social flow connecting easily with peers from the U.S., Russia, China, Britain and Germany.
Not All Experts are Astrophysicists
The above example is extreme. Your experts will come from all backgrounds and fields of study. Your Traditional Expert may be the nurse who has been there for 30 years, the machinist who has run that lathe since he graduated from high school or the chemist in your lab who hasn’t looked up from his beaker since Reagan left office. All of them grew up in the same environment of relative isolation and exclusivity in their domain. That is, relative to the widely available, global and instantaneous communication and education of the NextGen of experts who will carry the torch of knowledge forward.
Due to the instantaneous communication and rapid proliferation of ideas, it is estimated that knowledge now doubles about every two years. That, too, changes the nature of experts because no expert remains one for very long.
These changes have implications for learning, teaching and working styles that impact the way you collect and transfer expertise in your own organization.
Expect a few things from NextGen Experts:
· knowledge is widely dispersed and they are open and generous with their knowledge
· experts commonly explain what they know openly and share it widely
· expertise is not exclusive
· knowledge not widely shared is not valuable
· transfer of knowledge is open sourced and curated
· learning is tailored to the task, the learner and the environment in which they apply it
What are differences you see between the Traditional Expert and the NextGen Expert? Please comment below.