Kicking over the tables

Our anonymous blogger reflects on the challenges of persuading his (or her) long-serving Sleepy Hollow colleagues to embrace fresh ideas

I would like to think my arrival here at Sleepy Hollow Electronics Limited, with the influx of new and exciting ways to do engineering that I brought with me, is seen as a breath of fresh air.

For all I know it may actually be seen as a waft of something altogether more odious – one doesn’t really like to ask about these sorts of things. Naturally though, I am not unaware of such possibilities and try to not be too overbearing; instead I try to be sensitive to the company’s history, respectful of my colleagues’ experience – and just generally avoid being a pain in the arse.

Even so its difficult to judge as Sleepy Hollow has been through a strange, glacial like organic change over a number of years. None of the ideas I have introduced and championed are cutting edge, they are all tried and tested. However, in this environment, they have the air of stupendous novelty. I fear that any attempt to introduce the truly radical could well result in a catastrophic rift in the fabric of reality, so this is something I’ve avoided so far.

Despite this, when I have had various conversations with different members of senior staff they seem to be generally enthusiastic in embracing the brave new world put before them. Even those where I’d been warned that their reaction would probably be something akin to Eeyore’s if presented with the opportunity of skydiving into a vat of custard.

These extreme circumstances and the small size of the team has given me the opportunity to re-evaluate the subtleties of my colleagues’ characteristics. This has the advantage of providing a mechanism to change the way I interact with them, hopefully for the better. I find that dealing with larger groups generally brings my view of individuals towards a binary and simplified state.

Therefore in this case those who seem wholly defined by truculence regarding new ideas, when stood back and viewed with a proper perspective, are only relatively so. It may even merely be that they see their role as providing a necessary brake, needed in the pursuit of due diligence, to the wild enthusiasm of others. They do not wish to inhibit progress as such but need to be sure that it is the correct strategy to adopt. Changing my viewpoint from seeing them as a problem to be overcome, to seeing them as a partner in finding a justification for my ideas in itself changes everything. The whole process becomes less daunting. If a suggestion is rejected this is now a position that can be changed rather than an absolute. Also it is a position that was adopted for a reason other than leaden inertia – the previous air of futility is thus avoided and hope for future ideas takes its place. All of which is encouragement enough, should it be needed to continue kicking over the tables in the fight against complacency.