The experience trap

Experience is typically an asset. But.. I think, at times it can become a hindrance to success. 

What do I mean?

Take, for example, a team that starts a company.  They begin figuring things out, listening to the market, learning, making mistakes, focusing on where they succeed.  Eventually they persevere, grow, and take the company to a good place (profit, IPO, sale, merger, whatever).  This team eventually moves on from the company.

Some time later, this team gets ‘the band’ back together.  They do it all again.  Maybe.  This is where I think the Experience Trap starts to creep in.  Maybe they’re successful this time around, likely not.  If they ultimately succeed, I don’t think the 3rd time works. Ever.

The problem is people start to rely or lean on their past experiences too much.  The market, by definition, is constantly evolving.  Most people fall into their comfort zones too easily and a team of people that have worked together multiple times usually exacerbates that.  This gets progressively worse, which is why I think 3rd-time teams never succeed.

An analog to the team effect, is the “been there – done that” effect.  This is when someone that has a background in a particular market and has been very successful in that market, tries the same thing that worked in the past.  Again, the market evolves and what made them successful before may not be what will make them successful in the current scenario.  Some experience is critical, relying on what worked before to work again is the issue.

Worse, is the “too much respect for authority” effect.  That generally occurs when someone has a bunch of experience in a market and is too mindful of the general pecking order of companies, executives, and people in authority positions.  They hesitate to make contact or run an idea too far up the flagpole because they have a pre-determined notion for how that idea or contact will be perceived.

I’ve found that keeping myself honest is something that’s required to be successful.  I have an insatiable appetite to learn new things, new technologies, and new people.  I’ve in the past (at times unfortunately) had too little respect for authority.  Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time.