What Goldman Sachs Can Teach Us About Young Workers

Last Updated Apr 29, 2010 8:48 AM EDT

Lessons from the Goldman Sachs SagaThis week the executives of under-fire investment bank Goldman Sachs are under fire from Congress for selling products they bet would fail. The hearings are a great opportunity for what the Business Insider wittily calls Goldmanfreude, but for management guru and author Bob Sutton the case against the vampire squid of investment banks also offers a key lesson to employers: listen to the young and naive among you.
On his blog, Sutton points to a WSJ article that notes that Goldman's young wunderkind Fabrice Tourre, while far from being a blameless hero, did often question his "place in an-ever absurd realm of CDs, CDOs, and CDO-squareds" and expressed "deep doubts about some of the very things that got Wall Street in such a mess." Sutton then goes on to make a valuable point about organizational newcomers in general:
The young and under-socialized are often those who see the world for what it is, and speak up about it. Of course, it is a child who speaks the truth in the "The Emperor's New Clothes," the classic the tale by 'Hans Christian Andersen about two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes invisible to those unfit for their positions or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!"
... there is a crucial lesson here for every boss and every organization. Awareness -- and innovation too -- depend on listening to the young and naive, to those who are not yet brainwashed and unable to see what is odd, wrong, and what might be done differently.
Sutton concludes with a great reminder to veterans, reminding then it is important to "actually make it safe for the rookies to speak their minds." Good point.

(Image of whack a banker game by dull hunk, CC 2.0)

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    Jessica lives in London where she works as a freelance writer with interests in green business and tech, management, and marketing.