Previously, in Part I, (, we looked at a significant shift taking place in the relationship between employers and employees. The ‚old contract‛ consisted of swapping loyalty for security. A new generation of employees does not accept this old contract – mainly because they can see that security is not on offer any more, and are therefore not prepared to offer loyalty anymore. For them, the ‚new contract‛ involves paying them for their contribution and rewarding talent and creativity, rather than loyalty and longevity.
Now, in Part II of this look at the shifting relationships in the workplace of the 21st century, we turn our attention to the changing role of experience. Under the ‚old contract‛ older employees were rewarded for ‚experience‛. This usually meant that people who had been around longer were paid more, and that years of service was a strong indicator of value to the organisation. A new generation of talented young employees, who have grown up in an ever shifting world of constant change, are challenging the notion that value is so closely linked to longevity.

The problem with even addressing this issue is that the reader with years of hard labour under the belt will be tempted to simply dismiss my argument as puerile and baseless. Surely I can’t be suggesting that there is no value in experience? Of course experience is valuable, and naivet� can get you into trouble. There is always room for a seasoned campaigner in a good team. But there are dangers, too.
Let’s be honest. Experience isn’t what it used to be. In fact, by very definition, experience is something you get just after you need it. (Think about that!). Experience is most valuable in an environment where what happened yesterday happens again tomorrow � an environment with little change, or, at worst, where change is predictable and the future is little more than an extrapolation of the past.
But in an environment of discontinuous change, such as the world of the 21st century, the easiest way to fail is to attempt to repeat or even simply improve on past successes. Just as ‚good is the enemy of great‛ so experience is the enemy of innovation and adaptability in tempestuous times. When ‚tomorrow‛ is hardly ever a repeat of ‚yesterday‛, the danger is to think that we understand what is going on because ‚we’ve seen this before‛.
Experience is often the voice that starts a sentence with, ‚We tried that before, and it didn’t work‛, or ‚We’ve never done it that way before‛. In these cases, we face the danger of experience without explanation and reflection. And in moments like that, the most dangerous members of a team are those who rely the most on their experience.
In fact, experience is actually what you get when you don’t get what you want.
‚What’s the secret to your success?‛ the journalist asked the retiring CEO. ‚Two words, my son: Right decisions,‛ was the short reply.
‚And how do you make right decisions, sir?‛ retorted the reporter.
‚One word: Experience‛.
‚And how do you get that, sir?‛. The CEO didn’t even pause before saying, ‚Two words: Wrong decisions.‛
Experience as I have defined it may be a dangerous thing � a series of wrong decisions, punctuated by a few right ones. So, what should be done? How do we rescue ourselves from the dangerous trap of reliance of false experience?
The answer is to pursue wisdom, not experience. Wisdom is experience extracted from time. In other words, wisdom is applied experience that results in timeless principles and frameworks. Wisdom knows the difference between itself and experience, and wisdom always knows its limitations. Wisdom is always valuable.
Dr Graeme Codrington is Head of Intellectual Capital and Chief Treasure Hunter of, a dynamic organisation that helps companies identify the mega trends that will impact the people connected to their business � employees, customers and partners. Graeme is a sought after international speaker, best-selling author and generational expert.

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