Remember the first day you worked at this company, this department? Some slight boredom, endless paperwork tempered with the excitement of starting something new. You had some time on your hands to observe while you waited for HR to send back your docs, or your first client to call. Most likely you observed some stuff that didn’t quite make sense, processes that didn’t seem to be working well; a system that seemed to have a vital hiccup. And you didn’t raise a red flag because, hey, you were the new guy, maybe you just didn’t get “how things worked.”
A few months later, the “Kool-Aid” has been drunk and you’re part of the team. And you don’t notice those things as much anymore. Or someone gave you some sort of explanation about them that kind of made sense or implied a higher level of thinking had already thought through that problem.
Except, you were right, your beginner’s eyes caught something important.
When I take note of things on the first week of any assignment with a new team, if I look back at the notes a year later, there is clarity of thought that often points to a key weakness of the group, team or setup. It’s generally not people perceptions, but rather processes, procedures or underlying assumptions of the business model that have a “hole” which, while not fatal, may keep the business from achieving the greatest return on its efforts.
Go back to the beginning. Did you take notes? (If not, make sure you always do going forward.) You may not have been 100% correct in your impressions, but I guarantee, somewhere in those first few days, you saw a glimmer of one of the problems that is dogging your team now.
Start digging there.
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