Knowing how vs. knowing why

Philip Morgan

The value you provide your clients is based largely on your expertise.

If your first thought was "but I can't know everything about _________" then I want to sit down with you right now and talk about what expertise really is.

The "but I can't know everything" knee-jerk reaction is actually just conflating knowledge with expertise.

They're not the same thing.

Knowledge is knowing how to do something.

And once you're past a fundamental level of competence with whatever your discipline is, you can easily and rapidly acquire additional knowledge, usually in a just-in-time fashion.

If you've moved out of the world of a full time job into the world of self-employment, you may be stuck thinking of your value in terms of your knowledge. In terms of knowing how to accomplish tasks.After all, that's pretty much how jobs are structured. For example:


That job description is for a job with a lot of how but very little why.

Expertise is having enough how knowledge combined with an understanding of why.

Why you should choose approach A over approach B (and when approach B is the right one despite its apparent flaws).

Why investing in custom software is sometimes not what's best for your client (and why it sometimes is).

Why your clients' customers choose your client over the competition.

Why your clients' business works the way it does.

Almost anybody can string together enough stackoverflow searches to find the answer to how.

But your clients will pay a premium rate for someone who understands the reason why. What they're paying that premium for is expertise.

It doesn't take long to figure out enough why questions to significantly increase the value you deliver to your clients.

Once you've figured that out, the next step is:

Talk to you soon,-P

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