Stranger Danger

I play it safe

On Thursday I spent all day in my boss’s team meeting.  I am a lucky man, I work with people I like

  • We see the world the same way
  • We laugh at the same jokes
  • We bitch about the same people (admit it, you do too)
  • We moan about the same problems

It was a good day…  wasn’t?

Have you noticed that we sit with our friends, stay in our teams and only ever mix with people in the same industry.  Everybody else is a stranger.  Strangers are not to be trusted.  We tell our children all about stranger danger.

Strangers are to be avoided at all costs

After all, what do they know, how could they possibly help us?

Does your organisation have a moratorium on clever people?

Is your business the only one that has problems with customer complaints, or capacity management or staff turnover?

What could you learn from an operations manager at Schipol Airport, or an analysis at HSBC, or the man who schedules the trains for Network Rail or the process guy at the Department for Education?

I bet their problems are not that different from yours, but they will have some very different solutions to them, solutions that might make you sit back and think.

You (and I) need to get out more

And make some connections:

  • Search linked in
  • Google is our friend
  • Visit the other big employers in our towns
  • Have coffee with somebody new
  • Find the world expert in our problem and drop them a line

Talking to strangers is hard

But it might make us think, we could even learn something.

Though it is probably best to avoid the bitching, at least until we get to know them.

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Stranger Danger

Read another opinion

Image by Adrian Serghie


  1. James,

    Guilty as charged.

    I do like the idea of not only networking with folks in different industries but also hiring people from different industries. We can certainly learn something from the way others do things.

    Annette :-)

    • James Lawther says:

      Yep, we can so much, yet how often do we see “must have relevant industry experience” on job adds?

      Thanks for your comment


  2. Hello James,

    Some say our that inheritance leaves us naturally weary-suspicious-cautious of strangers. The exception is young children – they will talk to just about anybody before they are brainwashed out of this. Why? As you say strangers are not to be trusted.

    Talking about getting out more and making connections, I suggest reading Aldous Huxley’s ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’. Huxley, who came from a privileged background lived on the streets with beggars for a couple of years to really get their world.

    Talking about seeing the world differently, I continue to be amazed and delighted that you and I are in conversation. It occurs to me that I have benefited by being in communication with you: I can see a role and value in process provided the middle path is taken.

    All the best

  3. James,
    I remember a friend of mine once talking about a similar issue and referred to it as the use of ‘lateral experts’. He works with brands and introduces ‘lateral experts’ into the process to help shake up thinking and add new perspectives.


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