03 January 2024

A post on LinkedIn got a little close to my heart, showing a picture of Joe Flacco (an almost-retired NFL player, for those who aren't in to sportsball) and asking, "Are you overlooking experienced candidates because of their age? Take a lesson from Joe Flacco, who at 38 was written off by experts as too old and past his prime. Despite sitting at home hoping for a chance, the Cleveland Browns saw potential and gave him a chance to prove himself." And as one who's cough not exactly fresh-out-of-school myself, I thought it was worth a comment.

It always surprises me how often companies and hiring managers think, "I know! Let's save a few bucks on somebody who's never seen anything, will overreact to the tiniest of crises and completely miss the subtle cues that something serious is about to go down. No WAY that's going to come back and haunt us!"

Look, I get it: With the rapid iteration cycles in tech, it's hard to believe that somebody who's spend 45 years writing COBOL will have much to offer to your "full-stack" Javascript team. But you're missing the forest for the trees: Most 30-year veterans haven't spent all that time in just one stack or one company. The diversity of their experience vastly dwarfs all five of your recent college grads, and even if they can't pull all-nighters like the young'uns, it's because they usually don't have to.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating for a complete reversal of position, or that you need to toss your current crew. Don't make a whole team out of 45-year COBOL veterans, but don't make one out of Javascript-slinging GenZ'ers, either. Your team should be a mix of skills and experience, using diversity of team composition to cover as many possibilities as you can.

To borrow another analogy, which Diagnostic Medicine doctor would you rather have in charge of your company's medical case? Cameron? Chase? Foreman? 13, Kutner, or Taub? "Maybe," you think, "he's suggesting we want Dr House, sure I get it." Nope. I want him AND his whole team--there's a reason House needs a team, no matter how smart he is, and he's definitely smart, because he knows he needs a team that thinks differently from him and challenges his perspective and assumptions. That's (literally) the point of the whole show.

As my dad used to say, "Youth and boundless energy lose to old age and treachery every time." ;-)

Tags: management   teams  

Last modified 03 January 2024