Reviving Failed Ideas and Lost Causes

I liked Pavel Brodzinski‘s comment (here) on my networking post.  His point is right on and I wished I had elaborated on the point myself.  As Pavel notes, coming from the outside with fresh energy can revive previously-lost causes.  I also see some additional benefits/approaches to surfacing “already failed” ideas during your initial networking:

  • As an outsider, you can ask open-ended and naive questions about the failed concept without appearing ignorant.  Also, this approach gets people to talk more openly about what really went wrong.
  • Even if you think it is a great idea and you’ve seen it work, listen to the answers first.  To that end, don’t immediately endorse, complement, or promote the old idea.
  • Finally, listening to the answers is a great way to assess these stakeholders.  While Byham’s article emphasizes the need to establish credibility, credibility is a two-way street.

The ideal benefits from taking the these steps are a perspective on the “real” causes of the previous failure, an understanding of whether or not it may work again, and a map of the stakeholders you’ll have to navigate around.

Networking after moving into a new role

This Harvard Business Online article on networking after a promotion caught my eye (link here).  While it’s pitched to the recently-promoted, it has great advice for anyone moving into a new role.  The piece starts fast:

Most people aren’t naturally networkers. But if you’ve just been promoted or are about to move into a new job, it’s imperative that you start talking to lots of people and make connections right away, so you can acquire crucial information about your new job and succeed early. If you don’t, you might lack the facts you need for a proposal, for example, or you might bring up an idea you think is neat but has failed in the past.

The three tips noted in the piece are just fine.  However, I particularly liked the two insights in the open about fact-gathering and avoiding already-failed ideas.  I’ve made these mistakes before, so I appreciated the reminder of the pain that a little stakeholder identification and planning can prevent.

Networking is definitely an unnatural act for me.  While that isn’t usually a deterrent for me, in this case it means that networking always goes to the end of my to-do list.  My best approach is to target and reach out per the article, then get short chats on my calendar with those folks immediately.  If I procrastinate, all is lost.  Per the article:

[T]he first 30 to 60 days are when networking matters most, because that’s when people are deciding if they can depend on you or if you’re a loser who should never have been hired.

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