Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog

The Experience Dilemma

Bloomberg recently reported that the big clothing retailer Gap is bringing in new marketing and advertising teams to give their business a much-needed kick. On the other hand, analysts worry that the people they are bringing in are more management specialists than experienced clothing merchants.

When I was at Procter & Gamble in marketing, we were just as willing to hire a religion major from a small liberal arts college as a marketing MBA from the Ivy League’s finest. Why? Strong performers quickly spot what they need to learn and learn it. The key criteria we used were strong grades and a variety of leadership oriented activities.

Experience is good news and bad news. Experience causes patterns to get set in our mind, and for most people those patterns become stubborn rules of behavior. On the other hand, experience can also greatly accelerate a learning curve and help avoid subtle industry “potholes.”

Net, I think experience is overrated! What do you think?

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