The Eagle Blog


I recently finished watching the mini-series “The Shield”. One of the things I liked about the show, and many of those kinds of shows, is that the characters are never “black and white”. The good guys can actually do some bad stuff, or the villains have some charming characteristics (such as Tony Soprano for instance … a nasty gangster whose character we got to know and even empathise with in his everyday life through the show “The Sopranos”). In the Shield, Detective Vic Mackey is the very effective, but corrupt, police detective and central character.

What has that got to do with anything?

It is my belief that we don’t live in a black and white world. Things are not all good, or all bad … they are not even right or wrong. They are shades of grey, mostly good or mostly bad, right-ish or wrong for this occasion!

That is a very hard thing for people to grasp and it applies almost universally!

Today I want to talk about experience as an example.

The Good about hiring people with experience:

Education and training are useful, sometimes necessary, sometimes essential … but experience will almost always “trump” education. If you can find someone who has been there and done that”, has a track record of success, can demonstrate they understand the job/project/issue etc based upon real life experience, then you will almost always be better to hire that person.

So in a choice between the MBA student with a couple of work terms, versus the sales professional who has beat their numbers consistently through their career but left school after high school very often it will be the experience that wins the day.

The Bad about hiring experience:

Just like those mini-series, the world is not black and white. We all know “superstar” sales people who jumped to a new company and struggled to deliver. Those experienced people don’t always come through for you … and for lots of reasons.

Sometimes (often?) people with lots of experience don’t want to continue learning, they feel they have all the answers. Sometimes the experienced people forget that one of the reasons for their success was a strong work ethic and they don’t want to keep working hard. Sometimes the support structures and business processes in their new company just don’t mesh with their way of doing business … and they struggle. Sometimes the new “experienced” resource can cause more disruption than they are worth! So, experience doesn’t always win out.

Sometimes the young, smart, well educated “keener” who is willing to “do what it takes” is exactly the right answer. Sometimes the less experienced but willing to learn resource will fit better in your organization. Sometimes the investment to get a more experienced resource is just not worth the difference in performance!

So, coming back to my earlier point. We live in a world of shades of grey, and we do the best we can in every given situation. We learn from past mistakes and try to anticipate opportunities into the future. We have to keep trying new things or else we will be left behind … but there are no cookie cutters to give us the answers. It all depends … and oddly enough, we use our “experience” to guide us! Now THAT is something to think about!

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