Experience versus Vitality and Innovation

Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard & Chris Smalling

‘Experience’ is an often-quoted strength in a job candidate or team member.

If this is relevant to the work that needs to be done, then great. However the term experience is often read as ‘knowledge’ and that is not always the case. An experienced person may refer back to situations that are not relevant to the present. An experienced person may rely on apoproaches which are not the best, but which merely work ‘OK’.

An experienced person’s views may now be out of date. In the 1960s a Japanese delegation visited a British car factory in the midlands and were guided around the operation by a proud production manager. The visitors had many questions about the facility and how it worked but felt they were not being given the answers that they wanted. One of the Japanese vistors asked the manager ‘How long have you worked in this factory?‘ to which the manager answered ‘Over 20 years!‘.

The Japanese visitor was oveheard to mutter ‘more like 20 minutes…

The manager did not know what was really happening in the production facility – they did not have relevant knowledge, nor an understanding of how to improve the work or quality of output.

A valuable, experienced professional is one who has the humility (and experience!) that allows them to ask the right questions and not to be the source of all the answers.


MacDonald, J. (1998) Calling a Halt to Mindless Change, Amacom, UK

Seddon, J. (2005) Freedom from Command and Control, Vanguard Press, Buckingham, UK.

One thought on “Experience versus Vitality and Innovation”

  1. Reflecting upon this blog post this morning, this very much chimes with my experience of undertaking a secondment in a different professional setting without the underpinning qualifications or real life experience of working in that field.

    I have found that asking questions and taking a discovery approach has enabled me to test assumptions, bring different perspectives and insights in order to add value to the team’s outcomes and outputs.

    I had no preconceptions of what should happen or what best practice in that field was but knowing that I could not be source of all the answers; meant that I very much took a research led, questioning and listening and learning approach. This approach was borne out of my wish to add value, inspire confidence and respect from my teams and continually test my understanding, These approaches have been impactful and will inform my professional practice in the future.

    In my experience therefore, knowledge and understanding is not intrinsically reliant on past experience of working in a particular professional field , but on how you approach and respect your work.

    To take this further, using one of the University’s Development Management Skills programme key precepts, I personally think that valuable experienced professionals apply situational leadership.

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