We tend to get used to things around. We build our software development process. We organize our project management. We set up our sales team. Everything goes fine. We’re happy with results. Sometimes someone comes up with nice tiny idea of improving this or that. After long discussions he gets green light to implement the idea. We’re happy even more.
Now imagine a situation: there comes Jane – an outsider form the organization which was completely different. Jane has seen different companies: the good, the bad and the ugly ones. She doesn’t come with a plan to change things around in a way which suits the model she has on her mind. No, she’s going to adjust. That’s the way people should act as they join a new community. When in Rome do as Romans do.
Jane sees things which are great in a new workplace. Maybe it’s organization of software development, maybe the atmosphere. On the other hand she, as a newcomer, sees things which, well, could be improved a bit. She hasn’t got used to them yet. She has a fresh view. If I have to decide who I should talk with about improvements in my organization it would be Jane, just when she already learns how things happen here. If I were Jane I would stick around for a couple of months to see the big picture and I would probably try to throw in a couple of ideas.
Fresh blood is always the best trigger to start improvements. Insiders are always biased. When I consider my past spell as a manager from a perspective of time I see how important it was to bring some fresh faces and let them to change things. As far as Jane isn’t one of these zealots who have one and only answer for each question (“we’ll use this technique since it’s proven in my last job”) you’ll end up with improvements which you’d never propose or it would take you way more time to get into the point when they come up.
By the way, one thing I screwed last time. I didn’t encourage people to play Jane’s role enough. The funny thing is it appeared later when I was no longer there.
If you want to improve make use of fresh blood in your organization. These people will help you to avoid your bias and start discussion about improvements.
Have you had a chance to change things when you were a newcomer?