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Rookie Smarts

Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work

By Liz Wiseman
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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Rookie Smarts by Liz Wiseman

The world is changing faster than ever. Rookies and inexperienced employees have an advantage in the workplace when they are willing to learn and adapt. Rookie Smarts shows how, when projects are approached with fresh eyes, organizations succeed. It also includes helpful tips on how even experienced workers can stay sharp by developing a rookie mindset.

Key idea 1 of 9

In today’s fast-paced workplace, hiring a rookie can be an advantage.

Next time you’re faced with a stack of resumes, look beyond experience. The strongest candidates might be rookies, or someone without experience. Why? Because technology has changed the modern workplace in three distinctive ways that work in their favor.

First, our knowledge about the world is increasing faster than ever. In fact, every year and a half or so, human knowledge doubles.

Second, because of constantly improving research, new findings are rapidly proving old ones false. Therefore, mastery of old knowledge is becoming less and less relevant.

Take for example, a 2005 study which showed that the annual knowledge relevance decay rate—or how much knowledge becomes irrelevant each year—is 15 percent overall and up to 30 percent for high tech knowledge. So if workers aren’t continuously learning, only about 15 percent of what they know may be up-to-date in five years.

The final change is that technological advancements have expanded the workplace beyond the 9-to-5 day. Now, it’s standard practice to get an email from the boss at 9PM and be expected to respond.

Due to these developments, experienced workers can struggle in this new environment. Many find it difficult to keep asking questions and learning when they’ve already accumulated a base of knowledge earlier in their careers. In addition, it’s harder for them to look for new solutions when they already have an old method that has worked in the past.

On the other hand, rookies aren’t yet set in their ways, so they’re predisposed to deal well with change. They are willing and eager to learn and try new solutions. In the modern workplace, these traits are what translates into success.

Because whether it’s day one on the job or day 1,000, the enemy of success is cutting ourselves off from new information and approaches.

What makes rookies so valuable? Read on to find out how the rookie mindset leads to success and how everyone can have it.

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