On the evening of December 31st, 1999, many of us sat on the edge of our sofa’s wondering if our all our computers would fail the moment the clock struck midnight. Although it was the end of a century, it was the inauguration of the generation we refer to as ‘Millennial’. These adolescents matured in the midst of a great deal of cultural and technological change. In fact, the changes have continued at an alarming rate. For those of us born in previous generations, it has been a challenge to keep up. Emerging technology since the year 2000 has included the introduction of the hybrid automobile, Segway, iPod, camera phone, iTunes music store, direct TV, YouTube, Wii, iPhone, Kindle, and flat screen television. Computers have transformed into hand-held tablets, and the internet has exploded with apps for just about everything. These innovations have impacted our culture and the way the Millennials see the world.
The digitizing of our culture has shaped the expectations of these young people. With the development of the social internet they expect to communicate continuously, acquire and accumulate information instantly, and actively engage in and embrace the diversification of people and ideas. The advances in technology were driven by young people in the Silicon Valley, proving that age and experience were not necessarily the precursors of innovation. Traditional roles are less familiar to Millennials. They look to their parents and those in authority as peers and friends. The combination of these factors in the lives of Millennials produce an unprecedented presence in the marketplace. A presence that cannot be ignored, because they are upon us.
The question remains then, how to incorporate this generation. Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant address this question in their new book entitled, When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business. Although I have not yet read the book, I have participated in one of their webinars recently that was developed to prepare us for the ‘takeover.’ According to these authors, the way to success involves accepting this generation in all its distinctiveness. They advise that the successful future of a business depends upon four key capacities: Digital, Clear, Fluid, and Fast. That is the ability to embrace a digital mindset, open to constant flux and change. In order to do this a company must be willing to dispose of ineffective processes, systems, etc. quickly, and look for alternative solutions that might better meet the requirements. Learning, development, customization, and improvement is the method to success in a business that has a digital mindset.
Clear and visible transparency in a company gives all of the employees freedom and ability to participate in problem solving, decision-making, and strategy planning. Perhaps it sounds a bit chaotic, but there are businesses that have become very successful employing such an open plan of management. Fluid addresses the time-consuming hierarchical decision-making process. When information is more widely distributed, creativity and productivity are enhanced.
Finally, Fast refers not to productivity, but rather trust in relationships. According to the studies done by Notter and Grant, trust in relationships relaxes the tight hold of control and enables great strides forward. When there is trust, decisions and new ideas can be made more quickly.
When the ball dropped on January 1st, 2000, we did not experience the dreaded apocalypse. Neither is there anything to fear ‘when the Millennials takeover.’ We truly do have a ‘ridiculously optimistic future.’
Nigro, Kelly. “North Salinas High School Class of 1978.” Flickr. Yahoo!, 15 Dec. 1977. Web. 07 Aug. 2015. <https://www.flickr.com/photos/kellynigro/4027962250/in/photolist-78WmR1-rWToJf-r9G8dY-dq8yPz-6BQnZo-uN92z6-eFhZYN-6Acfff-k48Exa-eFi3nd-psHRmF-k46AF8-uN92GF-6M3QBP-k491G9-cWidcG-uBqZCj-v5Abrx-u8zz11-vgsxec-qQqoYd-wb6oPM-k48wgR-wb5No2-wdjWnV-v7Wkgd-w4jfpE-w5n2qF-k46C7e-w2DaQH-wrUACL-qGHs89-qGHqZN-rXEW4g-rebtV5-rYE5i4-wb5Nin-k4aDwE-k48by6-k48Kkr-k4886V-k4axnW-k483cB-k47ZxP-k4amvL-wrU29G-v85R5e-vMkomS-w4jeHQ-k48yM2>.
Notter, Jamie, and Maddie Grant. When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business. S.l.: Idea, 2015. Print.