Whatever their seniority, a technical specialist needs commercial (in the private sector) or community (in the public sector) context to understand the role that their expertise plays in creating value.
Without that context, they struggle to articulate a credible and compelling connection between their work and how the organisation executes its strategy. In turn, that makes it hard to see the how their work contributes to competitive or community advantage. We call this market context.
To develop outstanding market context skills, technical subject matter experts (SMEs) should understand:
Why market context vital to being effective in an organisation.
How technical specialists can become informed about their organisation’s larger market context. How informed is informed enough?
How do you get up to speed quickly on market context.
How doing so change the way their input is perceived in the wider organisation. (The payoff is huge.)
In our Mastering Expertship Program programs, we introduce The Market Context Canvas as a tool to identify gaps an expert may have in their commercial or community understanding of their organisation.
It’s an exercise in three distinct parts:
Organisational Profile. This describes what you need to know about your organisation to operate at both a strategic and tactical level.
Competitive / Community Landscape. This describes what you need to know about competitors, how they relate to your organisation, and therefore how you can add competitive value.
Customers / Citizens. This describes what you need to know about your range of customers, internally and externally, to understand how their future requirements will impact your specialist area.
If you’d like to try the Canvas assessment yourself, you download a clean copy below, including the chapter of Master Expert that explains the Market Context Canvas in detail.