Do you need experience in the field to be successful?

I was struck this week by a story of a young kid, 15 years old, who radically has changed the science of Cancer detection. He is not a science major, he is not particularly interested in science (so he says), but he created a way to detect pancreatic cancer for pennies!

Pancreatic cancer is a particularly bad cancer because it is normally detected too late to reverse it. This kid developed the test from information published on the internet. Don’t believe it look here. There are organizations and institutions spending millions of dollars on “fighting” cancer. And, this kid finds information that was already published! Then he develops a test that costs pennies. He was motivated because a good friend had died from this cancer earlier.

What we want to note is:
–    He wasn’t an expert
–    He did not have years of experience
–    He did not have a huge network to tap

What he had was motivation and drive. He had curiosity and he wanted to make a difference. He wasn’t stuck in the way things had always been done and he was able to take a fresh look.

How often to do we limit the success of our organizations or teams because we think it is better to hire someone with experience or expertise? It may be a way to CYA if someone asks, “Why did you hire her?” but in no way is it safe for the long term health of your organization.

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