Three performance myths, part 1: the myth of experience

I am currently in Alexandria, Virginia working on a project for a training industry association, the American Society for Training and Development. There are training and development experts from around the country here, so naturally our dinner conversations turn to learning and performance. An interesting topic tonight was the myth of experience.

Experience feels like a safe bet when predicting someone's future performance. We rely on it when hiring employees, justifying promotions, and even choosing vendors. But experience can be seriously misleading. To quote one of my colleagues, "You can have twenty years of leadership experience, but you might have been doing it badly for those twenty years."

A much better predictor of future performance is what someone knows and what someone can do. This is harder to assess, but infinitely more valuable.