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New is Good, Old Can Be Better

Posted by on January 23, 2012 at 8:35 pm

“New and Improved.” “Newly Renovated.” “New Leadership Team.” “New, Faster 4G.” “New, Better Tasting Formula.”

In today’s fast-paced frenetic world, the term “new” is losing its luster. Everything is “new.” Every “new” product is higher in Omega fatty acids, easier to use, more feature-rich, or is bigger than the previous model.

The humorous television advertisements that show a customer’s smartphone as obsolete the moment after she purchases it is not far from reality.

Of course “new” is not new in the world of business and marketing. For decades, businesses have been peddling their products and services as “new” in an effort to lure customers. And for decades, market research has supported this notion.

Yet, I may be bucking the trend here, but I’m willing to step out on a limb to say that “old” has never been better positioned to make a comeback.

Sure, when it comes to products, customers will likely want to shell out the most dinero for the newest versions. However, when it comes to business, there may be opportunities to embrace some of the “old” ways of doing things that could lead to greater sales, higher margins, and happier shareholders.

Take talent for example. Routinely, companies bring in new, fresh talent and work them hard over the first few years. This is the classic management consulting firm model. Newbies are cheaper, more apt to work longer hours, malleable, and come with less personal baggage like child care or parental care. What’s not to like?

There’s a time and place for new talent in any company. However, I would argue that the best deal and greatest value these days may be with the older and more mature cohort. Cheaper is not always better. And with personal baggage comes experience and valuable perspective. And malleable sycophants are definitely not the recipe in my book for improving your company’s productivity.

Companies should not simply look at employees as units of labor, but as a valuable resource that should be mined and nurtured. A team made up of at least several more mature team members is likely the team that will not repeat past mistakes.

And most importantly, a team member that is willing to speak up and challenge the status quo in a constructive way – based on years of experience – is better positioned to add value to the bottom line, not take from it.

So look around you and embrace the old. Not every time, but when it is wise to do so. This newfound wisdom may be just the ticket for your company to compete in the new global marketplace.