Our society often confuses knowledge with experience. It’s something I run into continually with the way organizations think and plan for the future. For example, when talking with folks in Start-Ups, they will tell of the young guy who has all sorts of certifications, but is just not able to produce. I reply, “Of course he can’t apply, most of his experience is about acquiring knowledge, not putting it to use.”
Experience is understanding how to put knowledge to use to create value. Business is about leveraging people’s skills to create value in order to make profit. Those who’ve been around long enough know that at the core of any business (even public service) is the delivery of value for money. In the end its about turning knowledge/skill into product/service.
“the average age at which physicists do Nobel Prize winning work is 48.” – CBC “Scientific breakthroughs no longer dominated by the young”
From experience we need to transfer into the concept of wisdom. Wisdom is the right application of knowledge and therefore is related to experience. It is true, that while an older worker may have experience, there is no guarantee that it has translated into wisdom. However, for most older workers, especially in the knowledge industry, it has. With time, even a dim bulb can shine enough light on a problem to get better at it. For bright bulbs, this is even more true. Check out the past winners of Nobel Prizes in science. You’ll see most are over 40 and some are really old people. These are minds which have delivered the best and its because they have knowledge, experience, and wisdom. These are the kinds of faces which deliver the most value for an organization.
All things considered, the human mind it at its peak performance when it exceeds 40+ years.