In his book The Art of Thinking Clearly
, author and entrepreneur Rolf Dobelli writes: “If you ask people the crux of a particular problem, they usually link it to their own area of expertise.”
To illustrate his point, he tells the following story:
A man takes out a loan, starts a company, and goes bankrupt shortly afterward. He then falls into a deep depression and commits suicide.
Your interpretation of what happened likely depends on your background.
As a business analyst, you want to understand why the business idea failed: Was he a bad leader? Was the strategy wrong? Was there too much competition?
A religious conservative may see this as punishment from God; a psychiatrist might recognize low serotonin levels; and a socialist would blame the failure of capitalism.
Which is the correct view?
For Dobelli, the answer is: none of them.
The writer Mark Twain may have summed up this bias best: “If your only tool is a hammer, all your problems will be nails.”
Having such expertise isn’t inherently a problem. It’s good if, for example, an engineer sticks to what she knows.
As Dobelli puts it, the trouble can happen when a person veers from their field.
He suggests remembering that if you take your problem to an expert, “don’t expect the best overall solution.” Instead, expect an approach that can be solved with the expert’s toolkit.
After all, no single person, academic discipline, or field can contain all the wisdom of the world.