The captain of the Costa Concordia had lots of experience, but apparently lacked expertise. The same can be said of the pilot who crashed a perfectly functional 777, in perfect weather, in San Francisco last year (2013). Experience does not guarantee expertise, even in technical jobs like these, that don’t require much innovation. I care about expertise, not how many years of experience airline pilots and ship captains have. I also want them to have imagination, so they can think dynamically and handle situations they have never experienced before!
Experience is even less reliable at predicting success at new and innovative activities. True, for every entrepreneur like Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, there are many failures. However, those who fail don’t invalidate the value of unconventional thinking; just like their failures don’t invalidate the value of capitalism. They, or any other innovators, cannot be successful without capitalism and unconventional thinking.
Unconventional thinkers often have no experience. Prime examples include Ted Turner, Tony Hsieh, Elon Musk, Ben & Jerry, Herb Kelleher and many other people who had no experience before they started new and innovative ventures. They did things that the people who had years of experience never thought was possible. Their decades of experience prevented them from seeing new ideas.
Warren Buffet had more expertise before entering university, than most professional investors, who had decades of experience under performing the market! Therefore, in both technical and innovative job contexts, experience is a poor predictor of success.