Ask the Experts

J. Keith Hughey


Volume XXII, Number 13 (Issue 1069) March 25, 2024

Ask the Experts

Today’s title might suggest I am on the cusp of delivering a self-serving message. We do, after all, hold our firm and ourselves out to be experts – at least in a couple of fields. However, today’s topic has little to do with self-promotion. Instead, I want to focus on those situations where you have a weighty decision to make, and you know there are sources/resources – often within your organization or network – who have some knowledge and expertise that is germane to the problem at hand. There is just one problem… do you have the time (will you take the time) to search them out to get the answers you need?

But let us rewind. How often do you find yourself confronted by an important decision? Think about the last time it happened. Did you do the needed due diligence, or did you go with your gut? Perhaps you did some basic research prior to making your decision only to soon learn there were some glaring holes and inconsistencies in what you knew/learned from your investigation. In come the subject matter experts (“SMEs”).

The first question that needs answering is who are the experts? The next is if there are multiple subject matter experts you can source, are you prepared to take the time to consult with some or all of them? For that matter, do they have the time to consult with you? There is an old maxim, “not enough time to do it right, but enough time to do it over.” Honoring that adage, the final question that can arise is what if the experts do not agree?

Understanding there are limits to how much time we have to make some decisions as well as limits to the amount of due diligence we can do, when is enough data enough? The law of diminishing return is real, alive, and well, after all.

I raise this thorny topic because I recently encountered a situation where it is easy to see in hindsight that a better option existed than the one that was chosen. Furthermore, the better option was overlooked because the right SME was not consulted. I am prohibited from going into details other than to say a sub-optimum solution was selected due to two things. First, the person consulted lacked firsthand knowledge of the individuals involved and their abilities. Next it turns out one of the candidates chosen for the role was short on substance. In Texanese, that is known as all hat and no cattle. They looked and talked the part, however their ability and commitment to follow through (i.e., do the work) was sorely lacking. It turns out that individual’s best gifts were self-promotion and the willingness to take credit for others’ work.

Odds are you have encountered similar individuals. Part personable, part huckster, great at selling themselves, not so great at delivering the goods. Detecting individuals like this can be hard until they are asked to produce. That is why it is vital that we check multiple sources to ensure our decisions are the best possible. Granted, it takes time and entails some expense, but I believe most will agree such costs pale in comparison to the impact of a bad hiring/promotion/assignment decision.

In an environment where competitive pressure is intense, time is fleeting and we want (expect) everything immediately, patience remains a virtue.

Soli Deo Gloria

“But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  Romans 8:25

J. Keith Hughey

Mobile: (210)260-0955



Transforming Potential into Unmatched Performance

Copyright 2024 by J. Keith Hughey. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for reproduction and redistribution of this essay as provided under the copyright laws of the United States of America. Recent issues of Musings may be found at  Your comments are always welcome.

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