Are you still useful?

This week I went to ‘Overturn’ the MA in Innovation Management Degree Show at Central Saint Martins. Who even knew you could do a MA in Innovation?

Innovation expert Max McKeown (taller than I expected) delighted the audience for over an hour with a great presentation and some rather interesting innovation discussion featuring;

  • If anyone wanted or expected future to be exactly the same as it is now
  • How washing machines have made women in America fat
  • Pondering over to what extent past experiences affect our behaviours

Pretty intense stuff for a school night, but the observation that really struck a chord with me was;

If you have been with your firm for less than 6 months then you are still useful.

You are still useful because new people have enthusiasm that something can change. New people bring diversity as they are external to established systems and can see where change could make improvements. New people ask questions. New people challenge ‘the way things are done around here’.  Six months were how long it took for a person to stop being new, to stop asking the challenging questions, to stop believing that something can change.

The next question was how long we thought it takes for a new person in an organisation to get listened to.

There was a range of answers. All over 6 months.

So there we go, organisations employ people for their skills and experience to get the job done as well as their potential to ask questions and drive change. For the first six months they tend to do that, question and challenge, as time goes by they challenge less until they are one of the team, conformed to the status quo. That is just when they start to get noticed and gain influence. But by that point it is too late.

Sound familiar? Or not? Love to know your views.

P.S. Central Saint Martins Kings Cross Campus in London opened last September.  It is an awesome building, part of the regeneration of the Kings Cross area. Find a reason to visit if you can.

2 responses to “Are you still useful?

  1. Hi Lucy
    I’m not convinced by the six month rule in either situation. My field of work is community development, a value based occupation. We use our values (’s-values) to help us reflect on our practice, and to challenge. It probably takes a certain mindset and outlook to make challenges, and it certainly takes confidence and should be done in an assertive way (i.e. not being aggressive or submissive). I’m certainly still enthusiastic and still challenging thinking, attitudes and projects after 15 months of being a full member of my organisation (I was part of a sort of bolt-on project for 10 years before that).
    Also I think influence is a lot more complex than simply not conforming. I’d be interested to hear how many people in the group you were part of attempted to propose quite different ideas or experiences? Were you all conforming?
    I’m heartened by a lot of talk on disruption online, and hope that some of the disruptors have been in their organisations for longer than 6 months. (Going to a meeting with intent to disrupt – in a positive way – is great fun!)

    • Thanks Lorna good points – broadly speaking the 6 month theory resonates for me and for some of my experiences working in organisations. I like your point on going to a meeting with the intent to disrupt – in a positive way. I would like to see more people doing this too.

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