Subba’s Serendipitous moments

March 3, 2009

Experience can be a big liability

The Wall Street Journal has an interesting and a provocative article on the relevance of experience. Though the article by and large focuses on the project management area (an area where I have significant experience both as a practitioner and as a consultant and hence competent to comment), the broad implications of the article are relevant across all disciplines.

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

In my own personal endeavor, I have often felt that to remain current, one needs to constantly have a curious and questioning mind. It is too tempting to impose a solution that has worked in the past, or a solution that we are personally biased towards and force-fit the problem to the solution. As a consultant and an analyst, the temptation is all the more greater. And I have seen some unpleasant consequences of using an obsolete approach in the name of best practices.

This is another situation where an ounce of perspective is worth more than a pound of analytics and regurgitation.

I have blogged about the how being trained to see often masks our ability to see and why despite being wise, not being able to have the much needed perspective often leads to us going astray here.

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4 Comments »

  1. Very insightful post, Subba. A friend once told me: “10 years from now, I want to be doing what I learn 8 years from now.” Charles Fishman once said in a FastCompany article years ago, “After 10 years on the job, you don’t have 10 years experience — you’ve got 1 year of experience repeated 10 times.”

    The learners do, indeed, inherit the earth. Thank you for sharing your insights with us!

    Comment by Andy Kaufman — March 5, 2009 @ 2:16 am | Reply

  2. Got to love the WSJ. All that experience on Wall Street and look what has happened! I can see how they would need to scapegoat Project Managers rather than their own….

    Experience is never a liability in Project Management if there is continuous learning and improvement, since change is always happing in all aspects of life and business.

    You can only obtain Level 2 of SEI CMMi or OPM3 using experience (meaning projects that go the full life cycle) to obtain a level of “repeatability” to have a organization based on continuous improvement. At best Level 5 would have these projects “optimized”. Also not possible without experience.

    In the course of obtaining experience, I do not think you are ever “overqualified” to make your own money. Of course, Wall Street got in the arrogant habit of using other people’s money in high risk ways (hedge funds and sub-prime mortgage loans) to attempt making huge, greed inspired profits and missed the mark.

    I think Thomas Edison said it best, “Opportunity is missed by most people, because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”

    Best of luck Subba

    Regards,

    Rick Price

    Comment by Rick Price — March 20, 2009 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  3. […] achievements and so on. That doesn’t say much and I don’t necessarily agree with experience being a true predictor.. So here’s what I have come up […]

    Pingback by How to build a successful innovation team? « Subba’s Serendipitous moments — August 20, 2009 @ 6:35 pm | Reply

  4. […] achievements and so on. That doesn’t say much and I don’t necessarily agree with experience being a true predictor.. So here’s what I have come up […]

    Pingback by How to build a successful innovation team? | Expanding Thought — March 10, 2011 @ 4:31 pm | Reply


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