Experience vs Ability Redux

In early March, Mind Hacks had an interesting article titled “Are you experienced? Does it matter?” which adds another wrinkle to my the argument I made in my Experience vs Ability post.

The article, which cites a Time magazine article titled “The Science of Experience“, states that, according to research reported in the Time article:

research has failed to show that experience, on its own, predicts task performance. In other words, old hands often do no better than novices (Reference).

The Time article reports on a study conducted at Florida State University over the last 30 years. This study claims that:

three decades of research into expert performance has shown that experience itself — the raw amount of time you spend pursuing any particular activity, from brain surgery to skiing — can actually hinder your ability to deliver reproducibly superior performance (Reference).

The article quotes Anders Ericsson, author of Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance (2006) as pointing out the following:

rather than mere experience or even raw talent, it is dedicated, slogging, generally solitary exertion — repeatedly practicing the most difficult physical tasks for an athlete, repeatedly performing new and highly intricate computations for a mathematician — that leads to first-rate performance (Reference)

The basic point of the article and the Mind Hacks post was the following: Experience doesn’t guarantee a higher performing employee….it might…but it might not. The performance will come down to how passionate, how committed, and how interested the employee is in constantly pushing themselves. The question now is: how do you quantify these traits when looking to hire?

I still say that innate ability + passion + an interest in constantly learning will bring an extremely high performing employee, and therefore a high performing organization.

[tags] ability, experience, Florida State University, Mind Hacks, Research, Time [/tags]