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Using Experts in Parallel

September 8, 2021

Achieving Better, Timely Results with Multiple Experts

Having multiple experts working individually on the same engagement produces on-time results and often novel, new approaches. We have all heard that healthy competition drives innovation and development. Deciding on having 2 or more experts working in parallel can create these advantages. Both competing experts can come together at points along their path and discuss their strategies in developing a method, cure, or product. This type of interaction could save one expert from going down a path the other already tried unsuccessfully. More than anything else, having multiple working options increases the likelihood of an on-time work product or solution.

Experts in Parallel Create an Urgency for Results

Let’s look at how NASA ran parallel development in their drive to privatize space. NASA was hoping to create an efficient and safe path for going to space. Boeing and SpaceX won the 2 bids to ferry astronauts to and from space. They both missed the completion target, but SpaceX finally got it; being the first US company to ferry astronauts to and from the space station in the Dragon capsule. Boeing’s Starliner missed many targets and is now finally ready to launch again this week. Had only one company developed it, we might still be grounded.

Another great example is our current vaccine development for the Covid-19 virus. The US government supported targeted companies in the US, all working simultaneously for a push to develop this vaccine. It was extremely well executed, where the government assumed a lot of the risk in funding the companies and promising to purchase approved vaccines. We had very little room to err in not getting a vaccine into Americans arms. A few pharma companies failed to create a vaccine. We now have 3 US vaccines: J&J, Moderna and Pfizer. All 3 companies went through the development, trials, and commercialization to produce a vaccine with Emergency FDA approval in less than a year. To put this in perspective, our MMR vaccine took well over 10+ years to develop and combine into one shot. Let’s also not forget, our MMR development happened over 50 years ago.

Choosing the “Best” Expert May Involve Not Just Choosing One

My daily work often involves finding the best expert for a given application. We screen multiple experts and send quotes for each available expert. The client reviews each proposal and then decides on one. Many variables play into a client’s choice: cost, best fit and availability to complete things on-time. This model is not so different from hiring a plumber. You get a few quotes and choose who you feel is the best option. Here’s a new scenario to consider, running your project with both experts working in parallel.

Consider this scenario. Company A is tasked with developing a widget pump that is a crucial part for making a whole watering system function. 3 pump experts are screened. It’s clear after the initial scoping call that 2 of the 3 experts are outstanding and can clearly get this pump designed. Rather than only choose one expert, you decide to choose both. Here’s the catch. You only guarantee their work to the initial review and concept design. From here, you will either choose both to continue or go with only one expert to complete the design. It could be that one designer has a method or design concept that makes things simpler during manufacturing or maybe their concept will make the pump extremely robust. The hard part now may be simply deciding which pump concept shows the most promise. You decide on moving with one expert only and kindly ask the alternate expert to stop.

Company A pump is scheduled to be completed in one week. You then receive a notice that an emergency popped up and the timeline for completion gets pushed out another month. You don’t have that time! This is a tough decision as you now consider your options. The cost for the work is increasing but more worrisome is the idea of not having the part on time. The alternate pump designer is ready to start work and says it will only take 2 weeks to complete. You will be off by 1 week now rather than 1 month. It’s not ideal but looks like the better of 2 options.

Having Two Experts Increases the Chance of Timely Completion

Having 2 experts working in parallel is like a built-in insurance policy for getting things done. It’s like adding redundancy to a critical path. This path does increase the expenditure but also increases the chances of timely completion. We have shown how a dose of healthy competition drives success. The US response to Covid-19 vaccine development left little room for failure and getting a timely vaccine was crucial. The US stopped the Space Shuttle program and immediately urged NASA to create a program with private space groups. Having a home-grown solution for getting astronauts to space has been accomplished in record time. Watching newer companies like SpaceX and Moderna rise to the occasion has been exciting to watch. In having multiple groups working head-to-head, new products and solutions were created. Next time you need an expert, consider the possibility of hiring multiple experts for your next consulting engagement.


Written By Kekoa Rosa, Account Director, Expert Big Village.