Our Obsession With ‘Expertise’ Is Holding Us Back

You don’t need a credential to create useful work

Seth Godin
Forge
Published in
3 min readNov 10, 2020

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Woman doing carpentry work.
Photo: Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images

There are many instances where a credential — like a certificate, a license, or a degree — is essential. Nobody wants a knee surgeon who learned the craft by watching YouTube videos. But you don’t need a permit to speak up, to solve an interesting problem, or to lead. You don’t need a degree to write a lyric, or take responsibility, either.

You don’t need “expertise” to create useful work.

The modern credentialing system was designed to maintain the consistency of our industrial output. But over time, that system has expanded to create a roadblock. By relying on certificates and degrees to confer expertise, we slow down people who would otherwise make change happen by trying things out.

Think about the leaders you most respect, in any field. Find out what got them where they are. Was it a degree? Or did they get things done by simply doing the work?

The curse of institutions

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Seth Godin
Forge
Writer for

Founder of altMBA and Akimbo. Daily blogger, teacher, speaker, 20 bestsellers as well...