The destination might be the same, but the journey is not.

I frequently encounter people, new to a job, who are hired for their current job in part because of the good work they had done with their former companies. No doubt, they were told when hired something like, "What we're doing isn't working, we need you to fix it." The new organization has handed each the keys to the car and is relying on past navigational experiences of this new “driver” to get the firm to a new destination. Unfortunately for the driver, the map he posses is now outdated; there are roadblocks and detours all around. The destination may be the same, but the road has changed, and so have the people in the carpool. This trip will be a very different trip.

As an experienced change agent, I can offer one simple piece of advice:

Learn the road and understand the people in your carpool. The road you traveled before to your destination will likely not deliver the same results this time.

In other words, organizational context matters. It is essential to understand “why” the organization operates the way it does help to provide the foundation for change. This knowledge gives value to people who may have been successfully using these processes and procedures to achieve the current state of operation; it provides a better map by highlighting the roadblocks and allows you to plan the detours.

The new hire is brought on board for fresh thinking. “New” will only get you so far, though. Fresh thinking, combined with a thorough knowledge of the organization’s culture, processes, and procedures provides the credibility necessary to facilitate change. Otherwise, the new hire becomes just another presumably arrogant person who begins every story with, “When I was at (insert previous company here), we did it “this way.”

Trust me. Nobody wants to be “that guy."

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Photo by Kirsi Färm on Unsplash

David Harkins is a business strategist, speaker, and teacher.

He is the founder and executive consultant at David Harkins Company. In his spare time, he writes hikes, explores, and creates art. Although, not necessarily in that order.

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