Relying on experience

This weekend I was talking with a friend who had applied for a new management position outside of his current company and was turned down. The reason they gave him was the obvious “we have found somebody with more experience” although he did meet the criteria in the job description. This reminded me of an interview I read that Tom Peters had with Jeffrey Pfeffer, a Stanford professor who in my view has written several very interesting books and articles on common management practice:

“Finally, I think managers believe that they have experience, and that this experience is very important and valid. The problem, of course, with learning from experience is that we see what we expect to see. In the words of one of our colleagues, “Many managers with 20 years of experience don’t have 20 years of experience, they have one year of experience repeated 20 times.”

My friend “the manager” obviously did not agree on the importance of experience in this particular case, so maybe Pfeffer’s illustration is something he has mainly observed with “old” managers 😉


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