Experience vs expertise – questions to get you thinking

Are these mutually exclusive or complimentary? Can you have one without the other? Which has more influence in or on a situation? What is needed to qualify as an expert? Who validates the quality and relevance of experience?

Do you agree with the definitions below?

When do you think experience is more important than expertise and vice versa? Is everyone’s experience the same? Does experience improve the quality of expertise? Having expertise in one area might result in limitation – would experience add a useful dimension?

The ‘dictionary’ definitions:

Expertise is having or involving a great deal of knowledge or skill in a particular area. An expert is a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.

Experience is practical contact with and observation of facts or events. It is the knowledge or mastery of an event or subject gained through involvement in or exposure to it. Terms in philosophy such as “empirical knowledge” or “a posteriori knowledge” are used to refer to knowledge based on experience. A person with considerable experience in a specific field can gain a reputation as an expert. The concept of experience generally refers to know-how or procedural knowledge, rather than propositional knowledge: on-the-job training rather than book-learning.

We buy in experts to help … do we expect them to have experience as well? How do we choose our experts? How do we both quantify and qualify their credentials? How influential can experts be? What do experts need to bear in mind when in that role?

Is an expert someone who knows more than anyone else in the room about a topic or simply thinks they do?  You can have 20 years’ experience, or one year’s experience 20 times … which holds more weight?

Would choosing an expert you can actually get on with be a great strategy?

Or to choose someone who will bring challenge and disruption to disturb the ‘taken-for-granteds’ in your company or organisation?   Personal skills are important too whether an expert or one with experience.

5 top tips:

  1. Know which type of expert you need, how to assess the relevance of their expertise and extent of experience.
  2. Be clear about the outcome you are expecting, the deliverables and have check lists in place.
  3. Select a minimum of 3 to choose from, maybe ask for recommendations.
  4. Check out the expert’s credentials and actual experience.
  5. Hold the expert accountable, be prepared to listen, remember you can say no.


It is potentially a steep learning curve that can bring outstanding results when the match is right.

Realistically it depends on why you are choosing an expert or needing expertise.

Recently, needing life changing attention, I am delighted that I chose an expert with great wealth of experience who came highly recommended. The result exceptional.

My part was to trust my choice and follow advice based on years of experience to ensure the desired end result.

What top tips could you share re choosing an expert and how to assess their experience?

Would you go for experience or expertise and why? Which do you think is more / most important?

Is there in fact a definitive solution or ….. ?