The chap that sits next to me is pretty shrewd. “How do you spot an expert?” he said. The conversation lasted several days but he had known the answer all along. “Experts ask questions. They don’t give direct answers”.
Experts tend to have a model or framework of the domain for their understanding. They will ask questions to allign their model of understanding with the environment they find themselves in. They are adaptable so they will adopt the language of the environment for their model. They will ask questions to compare their domain model with the environment they find themselves in. They will be looking for subtle differences to help them learn new things rather than assume they are right. When they find differences they know that they could be due to an issue with environment or an issue with their model. They will not assume either is right, even if faced with an environment that appears to be undisciplined or uneducated. This constant search for flaws in their own way of thinking will mean that their knowledge will continue to deepen and be enriched.
A novice by comparison will have the answer. They will be rigid in their use of their own terminology, even though it causes confusion or misunderstanding. The novice may have many many years of exposure to the subject but it might be limited to academic study rather than practical experience, or it may be limited to a narrow range of experiences where they have imposed their own model on reality. Knowing that they are right will mean they will have missed many may opportunities to learn. Their knowledge will remain shallow and limited to the “language of the educated” rather than finding the language of the context. Sometimes the behaviour of the novice “Expert” resembles that of a teenager who has started the journey of learning and assumes certainty in their opinions. The novice will scoff at the un-initiated rather than support them and help them learn.
A novice may appear confident, like Colonel Kilgore in Apocalypse Now! “Charlie don’t surf!”. A man who risks lives for his own amusement.
The expert is confident enough to appear humble, like Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption. “Do you trust your wife Sir?”. An expert in life who dug his way out of prison.
Novice may look like experts but following their advice may kill your project. An expert may seem unassuming but they may dig you out of a tight spot.
Take a look around you. Are people telling each other what to do, or are they asking each other questions?