Some time ago I had an occasion to spend a couple of hours with a colleague from my previous company. I described a little bit what I’m doing right now, but most of the time we were talking about his team, which was formerly mine. No surprise for me there, they went through the path we were trying to pave while I was a part of the team. However, thing which I found surprising was how refreshing the meeting was for me.
During the past year I work on completely different kind of problems that I used to. I can admit that in several areas we’re far behind my former team. The discussion gave me a new perspective to look at projects I’m working on. It was nice because day by day I’m becoming more and more an insider, while you sometimes need to look from a greater distance to judge things correctly. It was like bringing the fresh blood into the team. It is always something that changes status quo and forces you to take another look at something you think you know well.
For me personally it was the meeting with the former colleague. For teams it’s usually a new member, who joins. Someone who has yet her mistakes to make, but (if you’re lucky) has a perception to see bad things everyone got used to and (if you’re very lucky) has a will to change them.
It will work that way unless the atmosphere at work doesn’t support this kind of behavior. Unfortunately, the atmosphere doesn’t come easy. It would be easy for me to discredit achievements of the team leaded by my colleague, to show their efforts as inessential. It would be just as easy to cut discussion with the newbies about very important things, claiming they have no experience. You can reject the fresh blood. You can reject improvements.
I don’t say that new is better by default. No. Fresh blood will come with a lot of old ideas which will appear as um… not very good. But then you can choose the hard way (to convince newbies they’re wrong) or the bad way (to say that you’re right because you’re right). If you choose the latter you’ll soon eliminate fresh blood with all its enthusiasm and creativity replacing it with getting used to current situation. Most of us don’t have a comfort to do that.