Experience Counts - Or Does It?


A planning workshop held last week was a reminder about the value, or otherwise, of experience. We've all heard the idioms: Experience is the best teacher. Experience is the father (or mother) of wisdom. The more that happens to you, the more you will learn.

For many, it is a case of: "5 years experience is the same year repeated 5 times." What is the alternative?

For 2200 years, the classic Socratic Method has induced people to examine his/her internal and external perceptions and to describe what s/he discovered there. Historically, this practice was so often accompanied by such huge leaps of perception, understanding and growth that all its most noted practitioners became convinced that all knowledge and understanding are already within each learner and need merely be "drawn forth." This ‘Socratic miracle' phenomenon was frequent enough for this ‘drawing-forth' theory to have such currency for that 2200 years, ‘education' itself became named after that concept-educate meaning, ‘to draw forth.' From YOU ARE BRIGHTER THAN YOU THINK! by Win Wenger, Ph.D.

Win Wenger conducted some great research into the value of talking aloud, with the focus required when you are in conversation with someone else, as opposed to talking to yourself. He was able to show the beneficial effects on the brain of a process he developed called Image Streaming which included this talking to an actual or derived "listener".

How does this translate into business value? For the busy firm I worked with last week, there was the distinct awareness that every project has inherent lessons - things happen that can serve as a source of learning for future projects. Yet, there was also the admission that the common sense approach of stopping to process lessons learnt was superseded by the common practice of rushing forth to attack the next project. We can all relate to the tyranny of the urgent.

From many examples where work teams have committed to a regime of plan - act - review, it is clear that the time invested in reflection (especially when in conversation with one or more other people) pays for itself many times over with some inevitable outcomes of such a discipline:

  • reduction in errors and reworks due to better preventative measures
  • improvements to work methods
  • improved alignment of tasks and/or roles
  • clearer communication
  • aligned expectations........the list goes on

Most business people are aware that the business pays handsomely for:

  • repeated errors and reworks due to a lack of planning and prevention
  • misalignment of tasks and/or roles
  • communication breakdowns
  • misguided expectations and unchecked assumptions ........the list goes on

If business owners could see what these occurrences cost them each day, I'm pretty sure they would systematically commit to the discipline of regular work reviews. Only with this discipline firmly in place does experience become a valuable teacher. The business is funding the experience - might as well get the best return; right?

Cherri Holland
[email protected]



Cherri Holland has twenty years of successfully working with organizations.

You may also like:

Filed under Business Coaching. Posted by The Corporate Toolbox on