February 13, 2023

The difference between experience and expertise

smiley cartoon of an expert with glasses

We often seek those who have experience, but is that enough?

An experienced operator is someone who has had substantial exposure to a range of similar situations. They can discern the inherent patterns and structures. Experienced people draw on their store of experience to interpret their current situation and find solutions.

However, if the situation is new or differs in significant detail, the experienced person may not notice the differences. They can be blinkered as they expect any situation to line up with their prior experience. They may misdiagnose the situation or have a biased view and analysis of the situation.

On the other hand, an expert is someone who has added capacity for reflective evaluation.

In other words, the expert has both experience and the ability to judge the level of objectivity of their knowledge.

The expert draws on more than just their own experience. The expert is continually updating their knowledge about the topic from external sources and thinking about the connections between their experience and these sources of new information.

In effect, the expert is a student of the situation who is questioning and challenging their own interpretation of the situation at hand.

I bet you can think of someone who is experienced, but not an expert, and also someone who is an expert.

What do you have experience in? Are you also an expert in that field?

When you are developing people, how can you instil a mindset that leads to expertise?

My best wishes, Paul

Paul Matthews

CEO and Founder of People Alchemy

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