Many businesses thrive on expertise. Consumers often flock to companies that have teams who are considered experts in their field because they "know their stuff." However, businesses can easily get caught in the "Expert Trap" if expertise is their only focus.


Because expertise is largely stored up information from the past. Experts don't naturally think about the future. They often lack vision, the ability to think outside the box, and the ability to take risks. Executive teams composed of experts alone can be detrimental to a company's growth, success, and longevity.

What happens to a company when new technology or methodologies (or a pandemic) happens, and the business is based on specialized knowledge? The experts that executives chase nickel-and-dime down the hallway; they pinch and cut and try to find ways to reduce expenses. They attempt to bring in greater efficiencies and processes that result in slightly better margins on existing offerings. Experts are not risk-takers because risk implies comfort with the unknown. Experts crave certainty.

In the meantime, other companies are using their disruptive thinkers to question conventional wisdom and the status quo. Disruptive thinkers explore and experiment with risky ideas. Disrupters think outside the box and are not afraid to explore new frontiers. Disrupters can raise their companies to new heights.

Is your company falling into the Expert Trap?

First, ask yourself these three questions:

  1. Are your "innovations" slight improvements on existing products, services, and/or systems, or are they truly new innovations?
  2. Have you only surrounded yourself with people who know what you know and think like you think? Are you all experts? Do you all think more about the past than the future?
  3. Have you invested in putting together a team or department that colors outside the lines, and exists for no other reason than to experiment with future-oriented ideas?

If your answers are yes to numbers one and two, and no to number three, you need to think about assembling an executive team that combines experts with disruptive thinkers. Identify who are the biggest risk-takers and disrupters on your team, and task them with coming up with the next big idea. Then you can bring in your experts to help determine the best and most effective way to make those new ideas into successful realities.  

Doug is a personality expert who has been an advisor to more than 500 founders and CEOs worldwide who have had to ask themselves the above same questions. If you'd like to find out (for free) if you have the personality trait or an executive team who has the traits that would likely fall into the Expert Trap, you can learn more at