Yes, it is true, we can be blinded by experience. The more we know about something, the more inclined we will be to miss seeing the things that are new on that topic.  And as our experience in the subject matter increases, the fundamental assumptions surrounding it will become deeply ingrained in all our dealings with the topic.  This is where the pitfall lies. We stop asking the “dumb” questions.

blinded by experience

 

Blinded By Experience – Even in Accounting

When we are in the process of learning about something, we tend to question.  We question the fundamental principles, we question the idiosyncrasies and we may even question the underlying tenets. Strange as it may seem, this questioning slowly dissipates as we gain deeper insight of the subject.  This is dangerous because everything evolves and changes over time.  While the fundamentals may not change (debits must always equal credits and when we learn about this, we may ask “Why is that”? – the dumb question), how we analyse and make decisions based on what we see will change over time.

Take dashboards for example.  Years ago, the only dashboard we knew about was the one in our car.  Today dashboards have become an integral, if not mandatory vehicle for the dissemination of information to various stakeholders in an organization.  With many years of experience we may look at a Financial Statement and subconsciously assume that we understand everything it is telling us.  We may not ask ourselves “what might this tell me if I introduced KPIs?” or “what might I learn if I sliced and diced this data differently?”. A well constructed dashboard will shed light on data that is simply not available by just looking at the Financial Statement.

If you would like to learn more about dashboards and how they may help you (are you still reporting like it’s 1999?), click here.

So take a look at a topic you are well versed in.  Are you asking all the right questions?  Are you questioning yourself at all?  Be honest with yourself and the answers might surprise you.