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How Opinion Gets Mistaken for Experience (and Why It’s Harmful)

It is frustrating to provide input on a type of project that you’re familiar with, only to have it shut down by someone with a better title. Some “thought leaders” devalue people who have direct experience and talk about the work that other people have done as if it is proof for their own opinion. The problem is that what works in one context may not work in another, and you never truly know how something is done unless you have been directly involved in the process. Chris Matts elaborates in a post for the IT Risk Manager.

Listen to the Experienced

It takes months and years in a specific task or job position to really call yourself experienced. Therefore, experience should be valued over opinion, which is purely subjective thinking in the moment. When you work as a team, you should look for and value suggestions of people who have experience because they will make sure to not go down any same wrong road twice. Experience is different from opinion because it is something tested in an experiment, while an opinion is just a hypothesis with a high level of uncertainty.

In a culture where status matters, experts express their opinions, even of topics that they have no specialization in, and we tend to interpret them as facts. The higher someone’s position is, the more truthful that person’s words become. You don’t want to be one of these “experts” who doesn’t know how to handle opinions with an open mind. Listen to those who have learned from their past mistakes, and whose experience helped them grow.

Matts goes on to say this:

If [you’re] picking a conference to spend your precious training budget on, look for one where the keynote is [talking]about THEIR experience, or instead is simply expressing opinion and using other [people’s] experience to justify their opinion. If you are not sure which keynotes do this, go and watch some videos on InfoQ, youtube and VIMEO, its easy to spot when you know what you are looking for.

Scaling Agile needs a culture which values Experience OVER Opinion. Without it, we will see more catastrophic failures where Thought Leaders express their opinions as fact and the people who suffer are the dozens of people whose careers are ruined a year later.

You can view the original post here: https://theitriskmanager.wordpress.com/2017/01/28/experience-over-opinion/

About My Nguyen

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My is a staff writer for AITS. She has a varied background in writing and marketing, having previously worked for the World & Vietnam Report among others.

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