Think 4 Moves Ahead
"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it."
While an individual may be a rational forward-looking tool for improvement, organizations usually aren't.
If you want to implement these improvements, the important question isn't to ask if you should propose these changes, but rather how to propose these changes with the best chance of success.
Perspective is Everything
Learning how is all about perspective. Who actually has the power to implement it? What horses do they have in the race? What is their goal? What are the potential problems they will face if they try to implement it?
These are the most important things to know, but they usually aren't apparent to people who just joined the organization. That's why lots of new employees who push for broad sweeping changes find themselves frustrated by the apparent irrationality of the system as a whole -- they can't see the rationality of each of the actors in that system.
Gaining Perspective vs. Gaining Trust
Not everyone cares about what their manager wants, or how the organization is set up, or how best to implement change that cuts across departments (it is really tedious work), so if gaining perspective isn't your thing, you can go the other route and try to gain trust.
Gaining trust of someone with the perspective means that they can form a partnership with you where they allow you to handle the technical side while they handle the politics side to implement the change. The key to building the trust is that you also need to trust the politically apt person with perspective as well, as you are limited in what you can do by what they can get the organization to accept.
So Should You Propose Change as a Newcomer?
This question is wholly dependent on two things:
- Are you aiming for short term impact or long term success with this company?
- Are you technically or politically gifted?
Short Term Impact
If you are technically oriented, then you can create something that works great as a side project to the extent that your boss is unable to deny its effectiveness. Many moons ago I worked in QA for some software, and wrote automated testing software that eliminated the need for me to do my job (I programmed my job out of existence). Your boss will have trouble saying that automated testing software is a bad idea when it has a proven track record for success.
If you are politically oriented, then you can spend a few weeks figuring out what your boss' role is in the organization, and how much he will let you get away with, and then ask him to allow you do to a side project within the realm you know he will let you do (as it won't cause harm to anyone else). This will allow you to create something you want to create, build trust with your boss, and allow you to build on it in the near future.
Long Term Impact
If you are going for long-term success, I wouldn't propose a big change. I would instead work on building trust (if technically oriented) or perspective (if politically oriented) so that I can leverage that to put myself in a position to make a bigger change later.
At Any Rate...
Beware political land mines. People from other departments suggesting you propose sweeping changes reeks of political opportunism and screams "Danger Will Robinson" to me. Talk to your manager and figure out what he's thinking. Like it or not, your manager is going to have a large impact on what change you can implement, and getting to understand him (or getting him to trust you) is a good idea.
At the same time, it's a bad idea to upset the manager in another group as well. So I'd be careful not to use this opportunity to get on your boss' good side by making that manager look bad.