I used to be nostalgic in the good old days

Have you ever worked with someone who kept on talking about a particular way things were done in their previous job? I remember one of my former colleagues who would quote “the good old times” over and over like a broken record.

When thrown into an unfamiliar environment our hearts beat quicker. We have to put more effort into our work to achieve the same results. Our thoughts have to adapt if we want to succeed and gain acceptance from peers. When we lack experience our thoughts revolve around previous positive examples which we can draw parallels from, in order to thrive.

But if we lack the proper backing from superiors or don’t yet fully understand “the big picture”, we may feel like a fish out of the water and wish back the good old times.

But actually, a complete and utter ignorance of the the big picture can be a good thing as long as people are aware and positive about it.

A “newbie” will question everything to make sense of the new environment. If done right this person can give you many angles of your product or strategy that nobody else is able to see (especially not the old hands in your team). Most newbies are secret weapons without knowing it.

If you manage a team or happen to work with new people: make it a habit of lifting them into a positive mindset and encourage them to share no matter how stupid they feel that their thought patterns might be! You should emphasize that there is no “wrong” way of thinking. There are no stupid questions. Also you should embrace this type of thinking among other team members and encourage them to have the newcomer question things.

Harnessing a newcomers idea will not only bring you up to speed of how well s/he integrates. More importantly their thought patterns can point out holes in your system nobody in the existing team would have ever questioned (precisely because they know too much of the big picture). Given the right attitude and nurturing environment, newbies can save you lots of money and provide a real competitive advantage.

You can also hire external consulting firms for an outsiders viewpoint. But why not give the same “job” to your fresh employee that is already on your payroll? Nobody will be as keen as them!

So to recap:

  • Never point out that an understanding of “the big picture” is essential since it will put any fresh employee into a situation where he feels “not to think” is OK.  
  • Beware of anyone commenting on “the good old times” since it would indicate a dissatisfaction about the current situation. Try to understand why they thought it was better back then.

Written by Joachim Bauernberger. If you liked this post why not connect with him on LinkedIn!?

Valbonne Consulting provides Research & Consulting for emerging technologies in Internet/Web of Things (WoT/IoT/M2M) and Emerging-Tech. We specialise in decentralisation, security and privacy. We work across a variety of traditional industry verticals (Telecommunications, Automotive, Energy, ...). We support Open Source and technologies built on open standards.

Joachim Bauernberger

Passionate about Open Source, GNU/Linux and Security since 1996. I write about future technology and how to make R&D faster. Expatriate, Entrepreneur, Adventurer and Foodie, currently living near Nice, France.

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