EXPERT

Expert is a person who is capable of making mistakes even in his narrow field of expertise. An expert knows more about the future of others than their past or their present. An expert knows all the answers – if you ask the right questions. The members of the expert committee possess different expertise, but they are not keen listeners. They don’t care to listen when the presenter is presenting, but their amazing enthusiasm can be noticed at the question hour. In the expert committee there are always some decoration pieces. These decoration pieces look good in the vases. Obviously, they are expensive to maintain. The mutation rates of experts are quite high. That is the reason,  committee members are taken for a specified period. Fortunately, getting freshly-minted experts is not a problem. They are available in plenty. Those who constitute an expert committee believe wisdom comes only with age. Thus, 50+ is an ideal age to become an expert. Retirees are preferred, as they create less fuss regarding fixing of dates for the meetings. Moreover, having them as member is a way to resolve another problem, the problem of quorum. They are the best ‘fillers’. More flexible an expert is more sought after she/he is for the committee. Experts are ‘experts’ in concluding that “this can’t be done”, and also in explaining why this can’t be done. At the smallest pretext, they reject proposals. They love using riders while accepting a proposal. One good thing about experts is that they don’t think too much. They know that they are advisors, not implementers. They also know that their report will not be read, so why bother. No one should deny the need of a committee, particularly when some want (for various reasons) to kill someone’s initiatives or push it to the future. Fred Allen remarked, “A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but who, as a group, can meet and decide that nothing can be done.” C Northcote Parkinson likened a committee to a plant. Perhaps that’s why experts are sometimes planted in the committee as watchdogs. Their only work is to help to achieve the mandated objectives.

I am a member of several expert committees. My experience has taught me a few important lessons: (i) An expert is a person who avoids the small errors while sweeping on to the grand fallacy, (ii) “If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock”, (iii) If you see a snake, just kill it, rather than appointing a committee on snakes, and (iv) “Some experts have no differential abilities from the rest of the population, but for some reasons, and their empirical records, are believed to be experts. They dress up their expertise in beautiful language, jargon, mathematics and often wear expensive suits”.

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