There’s an expression that I used to hear my grandparents use: “a new broom sweeps clean.”
It is a fact that a new broom tends to pick up more dirt and dust particles from the floor, than a tattered well-worn broom, but what does the expression really mean?
Should one only use a new broom? How often should the old boom be switched out for a newer one? These are the questions that I would ponder quietly while listening to my grandparents talk to their friends.
As an adult, I have come to understand the expression and I use the metaphor when I speak to my friends about a new leader in the midst. It means that with newness comes change. A new set of eyes can better spot the issues in a company and in many cases resolve the issues because they are not tied to the history or people mired in the problems.
Leaders who seek to keep their eyes and intuition as sharp as the needles at the end of a brand new broom, can be effective if they change their thought processes from time to time.
Here are a few questions that leaders can ask themselves and team members to generative new ideas:
1. If we closed the company today and had to start a new one, what would we sell or offer to our customers or program participants?
2. If money was not an issue, what would be do or build?
3. If our business model was 100% virtual, how would we make money or serve our public?
I’ve also found that one of the best ways to stay innovative is to bring new talent into the organization. The more diverse the talent, the better. Don’t go with someone who “fits in” with the existing staff, branch out and recruit someone with different experiences, a different background, and a different culture.
You’ll undoubtedly find that they will have some of the same likes, dislikes and interests as yourself and members of your team, but you’ll also find that they have different ideas on how to take the organization to the next level.
Hopefully, they’ll shake things up a bit and challenge the status quo. This makes everyone sit up and pay a little more attention to issues and problems that staff have ceased to see or hear due to familiarity.
When I was in school everyone tried to fit in. You dressed the same way, listened to the same music and ate the same food. Individuality was someone frowned upon because it was misunderstood. As I matured, I wanted to be different. I wanted to make a new path for myself. I didn’t want to leave my friends and family behind, but I had a desire for different experiences.
I haven’t changed in my thinking. I still like to experience different cultures, different places, etc. I like to shake things up a bit when I feel like I’m getting too dull in my thinking.
All businesses must innovate and leaders have to be willing to bring in a new broom when the opportunity arises, or be that new broom with new ideas, sweeping the halls of your company from time to time.