We live in a world of noise. I don’t just mean the machinery and traffic we endure every day, but the incessant demand for our attention from pretty much everyone. Our family needs our attention, our work demands it, advertisers try every trick to grab it, and even when we want to relax, once again from commercials to features, someone’s right there grabbing at our attention.
OK, fine. To a degree we learn how to cope with a noisy world. But there is also a point beyond which someone ceases to offer value, and becomes just an annoyance. One of these is what I call the fake expert. I like to read ‘The Pulse” on LinkedIn, and the site loads up that section with articles from what they call ‘Influencers’ - celebrities, business leaders, and some folks with no obvious reason to be highlighted. Full disclosure – I have never been invited to post as an ‘Influencer’, and my lack of political correctness means I should never expect such an honor, which may play a small part in my opinion of LI’s ‘Influencers’, but my real complaint is the trend of articles on subjects where the author can claim no expertise.
A sad example would from Frank Wu, the Chancellor & Dean of AC Hastings College of the Law, who wrote a little ditty he called “Your Boss Is No Better Than You”
My first problem starts with the subject. When I read the article, Mister Wu was plainly addressing the business environment, and the matter of competency among different ranks. The problem is Mister Wu’s credentials to speak as an expert. His profile is pure academia: Law Clerk after college, associate of a law firm, then teaching at law school, then writing, law work, and teaching law up to today. What’s missing? Unless you are naïve enough to imagine that a law firm can reasonably be compared to a corporation, start-up, retail or other genuine business that actually sells to the public, Mister Wu has less experience in business roles than a middle school student. I have no complaint if Mister Wu wants to discuss some case in the news, or discuss liability for a business. Unfortunately, however, Mister Wu posted his article on his opinion of business roles and ranks, on absolutely nothing more than what he has read in magazines and online. To make matters worse, Mister Wu never even mentions the authors or studies he found so compelling.
Why should that be rebuked? Three reasons, I think. First, Mister Wu’s article took the place of a different article, and if a real manager or executive or long-time employee had written their account, the article would have been far more authentic. Second, there are so many articles cluttering the web about business that it makes no sense to post where you have no applicable knowledge. I do not, after all, post articles in law reviews about my opinion of the latest SCOTUS ruling, so there is no reason why some law professor bored with his profession should troll into a place where his opinion has no more weight than that of his readers. If he wants to blog it on his own blog, fine, but a business site should seek out business people, not lawyers, on the subject of work roles.
And third – time wasted on Wu’s opinion devalues the site. I am just a little less interested in LinkedIn’s “Pulse” articles, having learned that authors may troll in print for no better purpose than the editors at LinkedIn forgot their own core competency.
There is more, of course. Some of Mister Wu’s claims are not merely not completely true, but also can be dangerously false. For example, in his first paragraph, Mister Wu wrote the following:
A good manager has to have specific skills, and that's where Mister Wu makes his second mistake - he assumes that degrees are irrelevant, and that is usually just not true. Someone can get a degree and never learn the skills they need, sure, but that's not usually case; the majority of people who earn management degrees do so to gain depth and learn how to be effective in leading their team. Mister Wu is correct to the point that managers must respect the work of their people, but he is completely wrong to insult and disrespect the talent and experience of managers and bosses. He does not begin to understand what a good manager does, or why it matters to the team.
Mister Wu doubles down on that ignorance, saying “