As a consultant I’m constantly working in environments in which I’ve had no experience. Here are some recent examples: An emergency room, a college music department, a roads research organization, a mental health partnership of county service providers, an association of government finance officers, a coal-fired power plant, a commercial kitchen design firm.
In every instance, I pay attention and learn all I can to quickly get up to speed. Not sharing my clients’ assumption often helps us better solve thorny problems.
So before you automatically require industry experience when bringing a new person on board, consider whether it really is necessary. To gain some courage for going against conventional wisdom, read Liz Ryan’s article, Five Reasons to Hire Someone with ‘No Industry Experience.’