Please excuse the sensationalist headline but i was interested in exploring the perceptions around experience and ability. Now i know that experience counts for a lot but then so does ability, but how do you identify true ability in an individual who works in a relatively new sector such as ‘social media‘. It’s become an area where as the need for social media experience has grown so has the number of people now work in social media or at least have the word ‘social‘ in their title.
I think both are ultimately vital in any role, not just social media but recently i was thinking about open management and open leadership and how possibly, a degree of experience could potentially be a negative thing. Experience is rarely thought about as a negative but I’m simply ‘throwing it out there’, maybe it can be.
So, i better explain myself….
The cons of being experienced
Change. Simple as that. But we’re not talking about small changes or changes between roles what we are talking about is fundamental shifts in how businesses are approaching social media and openness within their organisation’s. If you have been used to a ‘command & control’ system, which lets face it, most of us have then change can be very hard. We’re slowly (very slowly) moving towards a system where it doesn’t matter what title you have but more so how well networked you are – thus enabling to you to better communicate and gain/share information across the business. This shouldn’t be at all surprising though, as those who are the most connected outside of work are often the most able to get things done, get access to new tools and services and get new work when needed.
The cons of inexperience
The cons are obvious, when you are inexperienced it’s much easier to make mistakes aka ‘school-boy errors’ or perhaps worse, not even know where to start! But if you have the ability you can quickly learn from those mistakes and move things forward. You’re also more likely to recognise them as mistakes in the first place. OK, so I’ve started to talk about the positives again now! Inexperience is also closely related to age and perceptions of experience. The usual syndrome – “the younger you are – the less experienced you are”. This because experience is often measured in days/months/years, something quantitative, tangible, easy to measure. What is harder to take into account is qualitative experience but it counts for so much.
A final word, experience is easier to gain than ability. So as long as you have ability and continue to be a ‘thought leader’ then the experience will come. The work you put into learning every day will pay dividends in the future. Ignorance in social media is definitely not bliss.
What do you think? Will there always be dinosaurs in whatever industry you work? Does ability really mean more than experience or am i wrong? Have your say in the comments.