Many years ago I injured my knee while playing basketball. On that day I decided to drive to the hospital to get my knee checked to determine if the injury was serious or one that simply needed time to heal. The emergency room doctors took a look at my swollen knee and informed me that me that in all likelihood it was a simple sprain that needed time and ice. As it turned out he was wrong as the MRI later revealed I needed surgery.

That episode along with others like it got me thinking about how we, as members of the general public, interact with professionals. We often find ourselves accepting their feedback, diagnosis, edicts, and advice at face value. Perhaps if we feel we know something about the given topic we might as what we think are pertinent questions. Very rarely do we challenge and ask for evidence or even a demonstration of competence.

In fact our behavior has gotten these professionals used to a certain type of interaction that if/when someone acts differently we find the professionals annoyed.

Given my earlier example this applies to the medical profession but also to others including project management. Obviously with the advances of technology the paradigm has shifted, yet we still see this behavior.

In consulting we tend to find ourselves accepting the advice of the “expert” often without asking for credentials or educational background. We might even ignore the lack of evidence that supports their input.

This is indeed dangerous behavior both on the part of the professional and the client. It may seem odd to ask the ER doctor where he/she went to school or what qualifications they have, but in my opinion it is within our right as consumers. The same should hold true in other professions as well like project management. As a client I would like to know what degrees the PM has, from which universities, and what practical experience they possess. I also want to know what credentials they hold. If this makes the professional uncomfortable then maybe that’s a telling sign.

The point that I am trying to make is that before we act on advice from professionals in the business world we need to do our homework in the same manner as we do when we go to that doctor. The life of our organization depends on it.