Subject Matter Expert or High Performer?

About DSA

Darryl L. Sink and Associates, Inc. (DSA) helps organizations design and develop learning and performance solutions that get results. DSA works cooperatively with organizations to:

  • accomplish internal custom projects
  • train and educate their internal staff in Instructional Systems Development.

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DSA Tips Newsletter Archive

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Darryl’s tips are now conveniently organized not only by published date, but by these topics:

  • Project Management
  • Front End Analysis
  • Design Strategies
  • Instructional Strategies/Techniques
  • Measurement/Evaluation
  • Implementation
  • Professional Development
  • Coaching with DSA Tips

We have lots of great ideas just waiting for you to use!

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The last tip we offered had to do with how to work better with multiple subject matter experts. This tip has to do with distinguishing between subject matter experts and high performers. High performers typically know only their own story and that story is based on how they personally came to be able to perform. They tend to think the way they do the job is the way everyone should learn to do the job.

A true SME knows the story from a broad perspective, knows specifically what people need to know to do their job and can help to provide structure to the knowledge needed. Consider the difference between an outstanding basketball coach and that coach's best player. The player knows how they got there, the coach knows better how to help others get there.

High performers can, over time, develop idiosyncratic ways of doing their work, just as a basketball player may develop certain idiosyncratic behaviors that do not necessarily contribute to good performance, and in fact, may be inappropriate when teaching others.

What to Do if You Only Have High Performers

If you only have high performers, you will need to work with several of these high performers to first identify what contributes to good performance—perhaps by engaging them as a group in a job analysis and then gaining consensus upon the knowledge and skills necessary and sufficient to perform the job. You can find out more about working with subject matter experts in the DSA workshop, The Instructional Developer Workshop.

See you next time,