Experience vs. Innovation

Posted by on Dec 5, 2011 in Leadership | One Comment

There is a natural tension between the proponents of “experience” and those who tout “innovation.”

Experience sees the value in leveraging wisdom gained through years of learning and doesn’t want to repeat past mistakes.

Innovation recognizes the world isn’t the same as it used to be and therefore will require fresh, new solutions.

These things often feel like they are mutually exclusive, particularly in our companies.* Organizations are often good at one at the cost of the other — and generally our businesses tilt hard in favor of experience. Almost everything we measure (and measurement is a big freakin’ deal) slants the scales this direction, from our hiring requirements (“Must have… 9 years!“) to financial reports which compare to years past.

The problem is that experience just doesn’t mean as much as it used to.

In a world that moves as quickly as ours, we shouldn’t be afraid of the “next thing,” the incremental thing. We should be afraid of the other thing — the thing which completely disrupts the market and renders our product or service irrelevant.

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*Of course, the thoughtful leader isn’t sucked into this false dichotomy, but sees value in both of these perspectives. They recognize that it’s not either/or, but both/and. The hard part is in resolving the tension. And that, of course, is a big part of why leaders make more money.

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1 Comment

  1. The 6-Year-Old in the Room | Bill Munn
    July 26, 2013

    […] So, now it’s your turn to ask why? Let’s start by taking a look at the innovation record of “industry experience.” […]

    Reply

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