Friday, January 26, 2007

Experience vs Youth

It so happened that in matter of few hours in two different conversations, the same fundamental question got raised. Which is more important? Youth or experience. The first setting was an industry conference call for MITA where I (with five years of domain knowledge) was trying to exchange ideas with a stalwart of the industry (25 years of domain expertise). Note my use of knowledge vs. expertise. The second setting was on DC 980 Sports Talk with Coach John Thompson where the new trend in NFL for hiring young coaches was being challenged. Well it is a classic and a never ending debate. I believe that experience is needed and it would be not sane to ignore or disrespect the experience of an individual. At the same time experience can be debilitating if it makes one resistant to change and not open to new ideas and approaches. The youth brings freshness, energy, vibrancy and frevor of a child willing to try the untested; explore the unknown and experiment the new. Yes it is a very risk and fraught filled approach. But as many would point the greatest innovations, discoveries are due to this mindset and philosophy. Does age and experience reduce these dispositions and makes you less risk taking and resistant to change? Yes and I think its biologically supported too. But if the experienced people would allow for an open critical thinking of the as-is and the youth respect and imbibe the experience of the seniors as a control board, we can make significant progress. As for Coach John Thompson, I think the marriage of two: have a youthful head coach and very senior assistant head coach is the solution and it is no shame or disrespect to work for a younger person if he honors and recognizes the value of your experience and maturity.

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