Tearing down “old fences” is often appealing to those new leaders who want to demonstrate their decisiveness to their new staff.  These “old fences” are the procedures and practices of the organization established by the previous leadership.

New leaders will be quickly approached by the staff who have particular practices or procedures that they want to be changed.  Rebuffed by the prior leadership, they see in the new leader a chance to mold things more to their liking. Their arguments may even be well thought out and are convincing since the new leader has no experience with their issue.

G.K. Chesterton once remarked, “Before you tear down a fence find out why it was built in the first place.”  This is good advice because with only the limited perspective of a new leader it may not be obvious what the unintended consequences of a procedure or practice change might be to the organization.  The “fence” was created for some reason.  Discover that first and then decide if a change is needed.

And if a change is needed, then involve everyone affected by that change in the development and implementation of the solution to the greatest degree possible. (Consider reading: What is 3iA?)