Experience over Theory

In the past I used to work as a trainer. As a trainer you need to have a grasp
of the subjects that you teach. Your knowledge needs to be in-depth as you are
constantly surprised by the questions of delegates. To be able to grasp the material
you need to understand the theory behind what you are attempting to teach.

During the time that I taught I used to take on consulting jobs, to keep my hands
dirty. At some stage I decided to stop training and I started to look for work in the field. A theme
that used to come up in most of my interviews was that I had the theoretical knowledge
yet I may be lacking in experience (previously, I used to hear this from my delegates). This used
to drive me crazy, specifically when it came from people that built themselves (and took
pride of) having nothing but experience. I had better knowledge then they did of the subject
yet I was judged due to “lack of experience”.

Doing some reading I found the following sentence I would like to quote from a text book
on negotiation by Gavin Kennedy:

“A purely anecdotal approach to practical problems is limited in three ways: the manager might
forget the appropriate anecdote to guide him in his current circumstances; he might apply
the an inappropriate anecdote to his problem; he might never have covered the appropriate anecdote
in his training and be at loss as to what to do”

I feel that I can relate to this, especially to the last sentence.
As a consultant I used to see this happening every time one such so called “experienced” person
would encounter an issues that he has never encountered before. He would go blank.
In most of the cases by applying some theoretical knowledge of how things work, the theoretician
was able to solve the problem…and then be scolded for not having enough experience… 🙂

Ok,so at this stage you might be asking yourself- what exactly is he trying to say here?
Two points to keep in mind:

  1. A professional is a person that has both:theoretical knowledge and experience. In my opinion
    the balance should be 65-35 towards theory.
  2. Don’t laugh at people that actually sit down and learn!
    [They may be bigger then you]
     

2 thoughts on “Experience over Theory

  1. No Respect,

    You managed to get a rise out of me(yes,I am predictable):
    1)Since you know me, I guess you know my opinion about people starting a sentence with ‘for someone that big’ [u can stop shaking…]

    2)For someone going by an alias I think you lost your right to criticize me personally

    3)Since you obviously know me-Why don’t you come up to me and tell me the same sentence in person.

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