Leveraging New Players

New individuals represent a significant opportunity and mechanism for taking ground quickly. Whether joining an organization, a working group, or an effort in any capacity, new individuals typically enjoy the unique benefit of being personally unencumbered by politics and history. 

New individuals possess a personal window where they can take ground quickly. Like running into the ocean, these individuals can move fairly quickly at first, as if on wet sand or in a few inches of water. However, as they wade deeper into an organization or effort, their speed slows as the water level rises around their waist. And after a period of time, they're simply treading water to keep their heads above water, merely keeping pace with the operational and compliance requirements of their role. Unencumbered by history, politics, and personalities these individuals possess a good, but diminishing opportunity to make progress. 

In one federal organization, the culture placed a high value on the opinions of new individuals, frequently granting them immediate expert status on any given topic. Interestingly, the perception of these individual’s opinions changed over time as they slowly but surely came to be viewed as just another individual in the department. In another organization, the viewpoint was the opposite. New individuals were seen as investments, their opinions worth little until they were fully trained in the ways of the organization with few relevant viewpoints because they lacked an understanding of how things ‘truly worked here’. The missed value was immeasurable. 

New players also possess on a diminishing basis a more objective perspective. Without the history and baggage of why things are the way they are, these individuals have a much better ability to see the 'art of the possible'. Most things in an organization are the way they are for a reason. But often the reason which made sense in the past is simply no longer valid. Requirements change, but public sector organizational structures, roles and processes change in response more slowly. New players offer a form of visibility into what may have made sense, but just doesn't make sense anymore. They are only looking at the current state because it's all they know - what are today's needs and what are we doing to meet them? People ingrained in an organization over time often lack the same ability and perspective to see the gaps as easily. In one organization for example, a new player identified a way to readily reduce the budget planning cycle by months. The current Finance Director was 'aghast' at the thought of changing the process, stating that, “we’ve always done it this way so why change it?”