Being an expert is great, but let’s not dismiss our junior colleagues

My son has been practicing basketball several times a week for a year and has improved immensely. We were recently visiting some friends when he decided to play basketball with one of the other kids there. Since we had no basketball on hand, one of the parents went out to buy one and mistakenly bought a kids’ basketball—which was smaller and much lighter than a regular one.

To my surprise, my son struggled and missed a lot of his shots. His opponent, who had never played basketball before in her life, made more baskets than he. My son was thrown off by the unfamiliar weight of the ball and kept overshooting. His opponent, however, had no training on what a basketball was supposed to feel like, and therefore had no trouble with the smaller ball.

This goes to show that sometimes, a non-experienced person will perform better because they have no bias, no prior expectation, and nothing to unlearn. While experience and training can lead to expertise, a fresh perspective can be valuable too.