Okay, so a few weeks ago I got all excited about the World Economic Forum’s report on the top 10 skills in 2020 vs. those in 2015. I wrote a cerebral and lofty blog about the future of our value to business being who we are, not what we know. That blog crashed and burned.
I decided to lighten up and write a just-for-fun piece about the differences in communication styles between Boomers and Millennials and beyond. It was designed to be a game in which commenters created a sentence that would communicate equally to all generations. No one did.
Undaunted, I am now looking at this screenshot and am absolutely wowed about resistance to change being futile. Especially when the catalysts for change are our kids!
Who Ya Gonna Call?
I used to call people I wanted to do business with intending to set up a meeting. I believed my title was critical to climbing the ladder. I put being excellent on the job ahead of everything…
About a decade ago, I did a communications equipment and strategy assessment for a county government in Colorado. Most of the department heads were my contemporaries, and they were wavering neurotically between terror of and passionate desire for new communications tools and styles.
We collectively asked and answered the usual questions… Will it really improve our connection with the citizens? Will it devastate our effectiveness while implementation takes place? Will the technology be redundant tomorrow? Will I look like a fool because it’s hard to learn?
And I was the one responsible for suggesting the ‘new way’ that would ‘work for everyone’? Yikes!
So I asked the Young’uns
You know, that group that’s always some degree of frustrated that their boss has a bit of dinosaur in their DNA? While they didn’t have the nuances about their domains that come with vast experience, they were hands-down the efficiency experts!
Every single one told me the ‘paper trail’ of emails and IM were easier to maintain and retrace when necessary. They were perkier about almost everything which they credited to maximizing their fun and family time outside the office. Most felt their environments were collaborative and they contributed applicable and appreciated IP…
They’d embraced technologies at a young age and they were already actively looking for ways to improve how these same gadgets and digital brains could help them. They’d embraced technology at a young age and they were already actively looking for ways to improve how these same gadgets and digital brains could help them whilst the older generations struggled with the technology. Much like little kids’ almost effortless ability to pick up foreign languages versus the struggle to learn these same languages as a teen or an adult.
(Incidentally, they attributed politics to the dinosaurs and the younger generation after themselves, which may not have any bearing on this little OpEx OpEd, but it cracked me up).
You’re hired kids! I’ll tell you what the county leaders want to achieve and you explain how it can be done!
Meanwhile, Practice What You Preach, Pat…
As a small business owner, I’d just learned a truckload about the real impact of efficiency through ‘modernization.’ It’s not that I wasn’t aware, I was just hoping not to have to spend all that money right then! That might be the hardest business conundrum of all: “if I ‘invest’ in effectiveness and efficiency to be uber-competitive, will it pay back, and how soon?”
Sure, I had access to analysts who could run the numbers. They looked pretty good. So why was I dreaming about my office being on a pier when the tidal wave arrived?
Ultimately, it was pretty easy to give great advice to a county government when they’d already earmarked big chunks of taxpayer dollars to implement necessary changes.
My company wasn’t pre-funded for all that… Risk and ROI. Gotta go for it. Sigh…
The 54-year-old Millennial
I got flogged in the crash of 2008/09. But the story before that was spectacular.
I listened to the young’uns–the young guns!–and for a couple years, my little corporate corner of the BPRI world zoomed like a bullet train. As did my clients’.
Down, but not for the count, I looked to the next generation for next moves. Better tools? Better life?
You know who I looked to.
I still work every day with leaders my age (and ones who could be my grandchildren). The ones who are really tearing it up want me to text them while they’re cooling their heels at base camp, hardly ever ask me to send them much more than a link, could give a hoot(suite) about where I went to college, ask and answer (engage!) generously, truly appreciate working with people they actually would have a beer with, and can’t wait to see and succeed at the next big challenge.
Many of you, like me were too busy being a ‘works comes firster’ to have my own, but I’ve just got to say: Thanks kids for managing my professional evolution through ability and example!
Keep making change a really good thing!