The following statement is from a recent article in the Honolulu Advertiser, discussing the possibilities and implications of placing more young leaders in executive level decision making roles.

“If the dot-com world proved anything, it proved that brains and ambition have to cross eventually with experience,” said Chuck Wardell, managing director at the world’s largest executive search firm, Korn/Ferry International.


When push comes to shove, experience trumps youth, Wardell said. Failure, he argues, is more likely to happen when a leader misjudges the culture of a corporation, and it takes years of experience and self-knowledge to nderstand those subtleties.


If the dot.com boom taught us anything was to be wary of an over-exuberant market. It wasn’t youth driven failure, it was the investors willing to hand out a big bag of money to anyone with a business plan that ended with .com. Being a younger contributor to several projects already I can agree with Mr. Wardell’s assessment that experience is always a positive benefit, but not when it begins to blind an organization’s culture to potential market threats.

We don’t need a bifurcation diagram and an understanding of chaos and complexity theory to realize the world is changing on a more rapid scale requiring an increase in the speed of decision making. I am reminded of Coca Cola’s attempt to replace their Chief Executive in 2005, being turned down by several candidates largely in response to the rigidity of the company’s culture and aging leadership still mired in the declining growth of the carbonated beverage market.

A young person might be more up on emerging technologies and pop culture. Also, younger workers are thought to have more drive and be more willing to take risks.

and what experience has taught me, it doesn’t matter what age you are, if your culture is not capable of meeting the demands of the changing marketplace, failure is an imminent possibility.

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