The Curse of Knowledge and how desperately you need simplification

This post was written before I build Exceptionly for revolutionizing the software talent industry through objective hands-on testing for both employers and engineers.

We all have that colleague at work, the guy who tends to build very long sentences — over 20 words — , using strange terminology to deliver his messages not once or twice, almost every single time. The easiest path is either tagging him with ‘genius’ or ‘weirdo’ but I believe we can do better than that.

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

You may have not realized but you likely suffer from the same curse if you’ve spent over 10,000 hours on a single topic. In this post, I will try to explain the relationship between knowledge and communication.

Let’s start with some facts.

  1. According to research by the American Press Institute when the average sentence length in a piece was fewer than eight words long, readers understood 100 percent of the story. Even at fourteen words, they could comprehend more than 90 percent of the information. But move up to 43-word sentences, and comprehension dropped below ten percent. If you are dealing with non-native English speakers, the figures are dramatically lower
Complex Learning Curve

Let’s say you’re working on a report related to your job. If you’ve invested over 10,000 hours on it (meaning 10 years of experience in your job), most probably, you’re on the right side of the curve. Over-Learning is a very isolating environment because you’re failing to deliver most of your messages.

  1. Most of the relevant messages in your mind are irrelevant for your peers if they are not as experienced as you are

Becoming expert matters and it definitely deserves respect but unless you achieve the level of simplicity required to share your knowledge, it’s just not good enough. Management can be a high-leverage activity only if you can influence others in your environment.

About the writer: Founder of Exceptionly, revolutionizing the software talent industry by leveraging his unique big dataset of over 2M hands-on tested software engineers around the world.

Founder at Exceptionly. Software talent problem solver https://exceptionly.com

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