Re: Paying coho members for professional services
From: Moz (
Date: Thu, 15 Dec 2011 13:35:34 -0800 (PST)
Melanie said:
> Do professionals and craftspeople living in community (architects,
> plumbers, realtors, lawyers, etc) with relevant skills think their
> contributions are overvalued or undervalued

Often. But there's a skill of stepping back from yourself
and letting the group balance "the expert" against what they
want. Also, when it's Moz-the-member, the group as a whole
have decided not to ask for my expert advice, let alone be
bound by it.

> ... Do you step back from those decisions, or lend your expertise?

I find it quite hard to step back and do all the prep work
to give a real expert opinion when I'm caught up in the
group process. Going through the process requires me to
create the professional distance so I can separate what I
want from the specific angle that my expertise is being
asked to address.  If I'm wearing my electrical engineer
hat, they're not asking me about group processes or
lifecycle environmental impacts, they want to know how much
work is required to tie 20kW of PV into the street. At a
legal-professional level, most professional liability
insurance requires you to be paid and have a contract or it
doesn't apply. As a group member you don't have that. So you
either need to set up the prerequisites to give expert
advice as an expert, or you're really not acting as an

Flip side: I try to work my expertise in, and really, my
opinions are so tied up with my expertise that asking me not
to use it to form them is unreasonable. On one level, my
university degrees amount to certification that "this guy
can remember what he's heard and think about it in a
systematic way"[1]. Asking me not to do that is asking me
not to participate at all.

I also do a bit of facilitation work around acknowleging
expertise, and trying to shift the group towards a way of
operating that accepts and values different people's special
knowledge. It's hard, there is a lot of postmodernism and
relativism informing people's ideas these days.

Part of it is switching the group from "consensus decision
making and working to hear and include everyone" to "the
expert will tell us the one true way and we will obey", and
back. This is actually easier when you're paying the expert
and they're an outsider.

[1] yes, I have a humanities degree. Also an engineering degree.
I find the combination amusing.

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