Intelligence > Experience


These days the conundrum of choosing between a young and inexperienced person and the older, experienced veteran will begin to occur more and more often. It’s quite comparable to whether to play the savvy veteran Peyton Manning or Brett Favre, or the new guy with something to prove, Brock Osweiler or Aaron Rodgers. It’s easy to categorize as young versus old, but it’s much more than that. Why do most rookies quarterbacks not seem to work out long in the NFL now days? Less and less I find myself believing in a young quarterback to lead the game winning drive with less than two minutes left. Maybe it takes more than just ‘talent’, or ‘intelligence’ if you translate it to the business world, to achieve ultimate success? Is the system to develop our young quarterbacks and young minds in business these days broken? Are we expecting too much out of them too soon?

First I should explain what I consider to be the difference between intelligence and experience. Intelligence is what I consider to be the ability to solve new challenges, environment or situations. I consider people with intelligence to have the ability to resolve these problems and issues with their own capability, without relying on the knowledge of former experiences. Basically, they are able to figure out new problems with no previous reference point.

Experience on the other hand, is when someone is able to do those things, not because they have the ability of coming to their own custom resolution, but because they have experienced something similar in the past and they are able to use that as a reference point to find the resolution. So if you think about that in football terms, when you have a young talented quarterback, who makes more risks and may be unpredictable, that is equivalent to intelligence in the working world. When you have a veteran quarterback, more reliable and predictable, that is the equivalent to experience in the working world. And age is not always necessarily a correct indicator of intelligence or experience. I have known older people who have young intelligent minds, and I know many young people who think like they are 60 years old. One of the most progressive and forward thinking minds that I know is a 50 year old man.

We should start with what I would consider the ideal environment for anyone. That would be when you have ‘intelligence’ learning from ‘experience’ until they have the know how to take the reins themselves. This would be just like the old days of the NFL when quarterbacks used to sit the bench for their first couple years and learn under the veteran until it was their time. These days, we have fewer and fewer of these situations occurring. We expect all these rookie quarterbacks to be able to win in their first year! No wonder RG3, Jamarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Vince Young, Brady Quinn and Mark Sanchez aren’t working out in the league! It would be like putting an intelligent mind with no experience in charge of a business and expecting to win the super bowl in your first year! The chances of success are much less than if they would have a year or two to learn the business before steering the ship. Maybe Aaron Rodgers and Brock Osweiler had it better than the rest because they had a chance to learn from the veterans?

Now you are stuck in what most of us know, not the ideal environment is. You have to make a decision and your only two candidates are an inexperienced, very intelligent person, and a person who has been doing a similar job for 30 years. Should I sign the veteran quarterback who gives me a chance to win now, or the rookie who gives me a chance to win in the future, but not now? In business they always coach you to make every decision with the long term value and success of the organization in mind, so shouldn’t you do the same in football?

Well first consider that there is a slight difference in the mentality of a football team from a business owner, which may affect your decision. In football, winning now can be justified to a fan base. In business, stock holders do care about the ‘now’, but they care just as much about the direction and future of the business. The future is just as important as the present, which doesn’t always translate in the sports world. Since most of us are in business and not on a football team, let’s make the correct decision in the business environment. I choose the intelligent mind with no experience, but why?

The pros and cons of experience with no intelligence; starting a veteran quarterback. There are obvious benefits to signing the experience. The training time is minimal, or in football terms, you can win now! Your business or team will experience no down or difficult transition time! The ball keeps rolling and things never stop… right? Well, the bad part is that the ball can only roll so fast with simply experience. In other words, you have a very limited ceiling for success. A veteran Peyton Manning isn’t giving you something that you haven’t seen before. And the unintelligent, experienced person isn’t bringing any new, revolutionary ideas to the table at your business. And you shouldn’t expect any different, you hired limitations. If the team around this person is great, maybe you can win now and the experienced person was the person for the job. But the bottom line is that what you achieve in year number one is the greatest success that you will ever achieve with this hire, hence the limited ceiling. You can trust this predictable outcome with experience, but your business or football team will not continue to develop as a result of this person.

The pros and cons of intelligence with no real experience; starting the rookie quarterback. This person will need time to learn! You can absolutely not expect to experience your greatest success in the first year with this person, it simply won’t happen. So if you are the coach and your job is on the line, this may not be the route that you want to choose. NFL owners aren’t always patient when you try to explain that you need a couple years to win, especially in today’s world. This person is going to try new things and make mistakes. They will take their bumps and bruises along with way and you are going to have to take them with him. It’s going to be a rocky road but if you are able to weather the storm, ultimately the intelligence will prevail. This is when you can discover new ideas, or new ways of thinking. This is how our businesses and the game of football evolve. When the unexperienced, intelligence set of eyes have a chance to gain experience, they will discover new things by taking new risks, things that the experienced, ‘set in their ways’ set of eyes may not.

So the next time you are walking around work and the old manager tries to intimidate you with his ‘unbelievable intelligence’ remember that he very well may not be that smart at all. They have just been in the system so long that they seem to know it all. Reality however, is that they wouldn’t be able to overcome a new challenge or obstacle at all, something that real intelligence will have the ability to achieve. So instead of just listening obliviously the next time you are told to do something, challenge it with our own original thought. Your stubborn manager may not like it, but it is absolutely necessary for the continued success and growth of your business and our world.