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A Rant Against the Rise of the Rookie

This blog is part of our Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice series offered this Fall.

I read recently of the advantages of having the rookie mindset. This was translated into hungry to learn and unencumbered by rules, history and constraints. I bristled as I read this article and not just because I am a few decades past “rookie.”

Let’s face it, human resources is a murky place to be. Our days are fraught with shades of grey, endless situational analysis and trying to keep up with the impact of case law on our policies and practices. The answer to all this is “rookie mindset?” Really?

I respectfully suggest that that is one of many reasons why HR consultants have clients. We are brought in to help deal with the consequences of the exuberant rookie mindset!

As we read the latest and greatest management book available we need to ask ourselves some critical questions. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Who would this apply to in my organization?
  • What industries would this be most relevant to?
  • Which functional areas of the business would most benefit from this approach?
  • In which functional areas would this likely be problematic?
  • How would implementing these ideas require a change to our due diligence practices?
  • What stage of the growth curve would you need to be at to realize the greatest benefit?

No doubt the creativity that comes from the rookie mindset has significant upside. I am all for taking a fresh approach. The creativity that comes from someone who is seeing and working through an issue for the first time can be a real eye opener. However, let’s not confuse good for some with good for all! That’s rookie lesson #1 in my book!

Doodling at HRevolution

I just finished attending HRevolution, my fourth. There were a lot of thought-provoking presentations, but my favourite was Lois Melbourne’s “Sally Can’t Doodle, and It’s Your Fault”. I see all sorts of presentations, and I learn a lot from them, but what I liked about Lois’s is that rather than learn something new, she provided some research about creativity that confirmed something I’ve long felt.  I love when I feel like I have a mind synch with someone.

Great ideas come in creative environments. Creativity needs to be nurtured early.

Her point is that if America doesn’t figure out how to return creativity to the classroom, our future leaders won’t be creative about the solutions that are provided. There are not enough inventors. There is evidence that this is already a significant problem in places like China.

Doodling is healthy.

I’m no doodler unfortunately but I do like to do crafts. I purposefully take time off of work every year to do crafts. Build floats, paint pictures, take photographs, arrange flowers, use scissors and glue. Almost every time I do this, I end up take a new approach to something at work.

I think I am going to start encouraging an unrelated creative activity before starting any group work.

Thank you Lois for reminding me of the importance of this.

What Does “Charlie” Say About Us?

This blog is part of our Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice series offered this Fall.

I just finished watching Its the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. In another few weeks, I’ll watch the Christmas Special.

Don’t get me wrong, I love these specials. They transport me back to a happy time in my life.

When watching one of these old cartoons, have you ever thought about how much times change though?   For example, Charlie Brown, a child, clearly suffers from depression, and he is bullied at school.   No one intervenes, and treats it as normal.  We make it the centre of the show.  And yet we show the episode in a slot suitable for children.

I’m not going to start some anti-Charlie Brown campaign.  But as someone who likes to find contemporary matters and apply them to modern people practices, this is excellent material.

Here are some of my observations about the various Peanuts cartoons that are cause for concern:

  • They purport violence. In the pumpkin patch, Sally tells Linus, “If you try and hold my hand, I’ll slug you.” The threat of being slugged is constant throughout all the specials.  So are young relationships.
  • Where are the parents? Linus stays out all night in the pumpkin patch and it is Lucy who comes to get him. Charlie Brown hosts a Thanksgiving dinner for Peppermint Patty and gang, and there are no parents to be found.  In real life, if kids were left alone that much, we are talking about jail time for the parents.
  • They don’t care about safety. At the end of the Thanksgiving special, the gang jumps into the back of the station wagon without seatbelts, and they are all facing the wrong way!
  • They’re all mean to each other.  This is on top of the bullying behaviour.  In all episodes of Charlie Brown, they all call each other blockheads.
  • They aren’t good sports. Lucy always removes the football before Charlie Brown can kick it. When trick-or-treating, the adults all give Charlie Brown “the rock”.

To be clear, in my childhood I watched these cartoons and didn’t pick up on the messaging.   I never got past the candy in Willie Wonka or the hooka-smoking rabbit in Alice in Wonderland until I was much older.

Do we in HR have some sort of obligation to look for subtle, possibly improper messages in our own domains?  Or do we do like everyone else, and just keep letting the classics be the classics.