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Friday, July 28, 2006

Open expertise

Yesterday I read an article "Negative knowledge, expertise and organisations" by Jaana Parviainen and Marja Eriksson from University of Tampere, Finland, that was published at Knowledge Board.

Yes indeed, negative knowledge (failures, mistakes, ignorance, etc.) exists. And normally any variants of what can be should be considered before the activity. But how this kind of knowledge can be utilized by professionals, experts, consultants and customers?

The authors pay attention to "open expertise":

"Instead of professional closures, customer culture requires 'open expertise' even in old expertise areas such in medicine, law and theology. 'Open expertise' is a customer-oriented activity with the result that experts have only tools or facilities to produce knowledge in action nets with laymen (Saaristo, 2000; Eräsaari, 2002, p.32).

In open expertise, negative knowledge has a more central role than in positive expertise. A doctor may have high-quality medical and practical knowledge on internal disease, but he/she does not necessarily have experience with patients with diseases. In describing their condition, the patients report on their experiential, bodily knowledge of diseases. As a 'problem-solving activity', knowledge of the nature of the disease is negotiated and constructed in the discussion between the doctor and a patient. Knowledge formation is related to the doctor’s ability to bracket his/her knowing, in order to imagine all kinds of possibilities to which the patient’s symptoms may refer. In developing a socially sensitive dialogue with his/her patients, the doctor may learn more about medicine than simply by reading scientific literature. Open expertise and social sensitivity would provide a basis for mutual knowledge formation between doctors and patients as action nets".

Does it mean that the scientists predict the end of professional closure, belief in diplomas, previous experience and respectable brands? At least the signs of this trend are obvious – customers search the web and read, consider various info before deciding to buy.

If so, how organization of any size (now not only freelancers or owners and employees, but also customers, partners, public, etc.) can monitor and constantly correct itself in order to be competitive? Maybe collaborative self-consulting at will be a timely solution?

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