Walking the Line

Why we need fewer experts and more examples

Babatunde Mumuni
3 min readMar 22, 2024
Photo by Михаил Секацкий on Unsplash

These days, I hear many schools of thought that I am uncomfortable with. People want to “fake it till they make it”, ever so subtly shifting emphasis to the way things appear, versus the way they actually are. We are increasingly focusing on form over substance, normalizing very extreme forms of self-promotion. They are not necessarily new, but I think they are certainly becoming more pervasive, especially with the rise of enabling platforms.

This is happening at the same time when there is an abundance of information out there. No generation or civilization has had the same levels of, and access to knowledge as we currently do. Our capacity to create, store, and distribute knowledge has grown exponentially, and with that, experts are increasing by the day — most of them armchair experts. The false premise is that we have also assumed that our ability to consume and productively apply the available knowledge has grown at the same pace.

However, I argue that this is not the case. In my context — the world of work — the evidence is out there. Despite a surfeit of research, books, conferences, and seminars (sorry, webinars), we are still struggling with the very fundamental things. Culture remains hard to create; transformation is still hard to implement successfully.


A popular answer is leadership. However, my argument still stands. Despite the cottage industry that has sprung up in the last 50 years around leadership education, leadership problems are still quite common across all organizations — religious, secular, capitalist, and not-for-profit. This transcends industries and disciplines, from aerospace to zoology.

So if it is not leadership, then what?

My view is that we just need more people willing to do the hard work regardless of the glamor of platforms and the enticement of recognition. In another article here, I wrote about “minding the gap” — about paying close attention to aligning our beliefs, philosophies, knowledge, intentions, and actual actions.

It is a lot easier to speak about collaboration than it is to value the input of a colleague you don’t agree with. The lofty concepts of emotional intelligence are very difficult at street level. Why should I empathize with the boss who is aloof, and says mean things? It is all fine to say we encourage dissenting voices until the rookie makes a comment that embarrasses you in the large meeting.

So, what do we do?

It is so simple as to seem cliché. We all need to roll up our sleeves and get into the storm of getting people to work together towards outcomes that matter. We need to accept the fact that we are not as good at it as we think we are. We must embrace the mess. Things won’t always work according to the script; people won’t always reciprocate in good measure. However, we don’t have much of a choice.

We need a whole lot more than quotable quotes, soundbites, and punchlines. We need fewer updates on LinkedIn and more focus on building quality relationships, doing great work, and creating lasting impact. We have an army of experts today on just about every subject — we need more. To borrow from Brene Brown, we need people who are not spectators but are in the arena, getting muddied and bloodied, and getting up and keeping at it.

This might be the only meaningful path forward.



Babatunde Mumuni

I think and write here about life as one continuous experience, not fragments stitched together. I believe that we should partake of this with our whole selves.