- Understanding the Millennial – The Incredible Opportunity
- Understanding the Millennial – Crisis at the Gate
So perhaps you have not encountered this yet, but the millennial generation is different. What’s a millennial? In short, they are the upcoming generation that is currently graduating from high schools and colleges and will be for the next decade. This generation is quite special though. They possess a completely different sensibility around both work and networking that the prior generations don’t have. As we look towards the future of creating innovation and collaboration networks, one of the major concerns is how to create widespread adoption for these programs. For the millennials, this is not a concern as they are completely used to networking through social network sites and tagging technologies that the rest of us will have to get used to. Their minds also seem to work in a different way that our older brains don’t seem to be wired for. Notice that CNN News not has 4 different things tickering across the screen at any moment in time? Notice the widgetization of the internet where you can now have 50 things going on at once in a very personalized way? Certainly the generation Y had something to do with this, but it will expand at increasing speed with the millennials.
So what are teens doing today to prepare for the workforce? Clearly, their experience will be very different from ours. The advent of the “soccer mom” has also meant that there are more kids with very diverse abilities. A single teen has been involved on playing baseball, is a master violinist, and took part in high school debate. That’s probably an underachiever too. These activities give them some of the traditional skills that have helped the rest of us along, from socialization, to leadership and teamwork. Add to that their favorite past-times of playing the newest Electronics Arts game that helps them to think and act spontaneously and pay attention to multiple details at once. These games are also wiring teen’s minds to problem solve, so games aren’t so bad after all (unless it’s all they are doing). Lastly, add to the equation how these teens interact with each other. Aside from the normal interactions they have at school, they are building their own networks on places like myspace where web 2.0 capabilities run rampant. Their exposure to these technologies is something we could only dream of.
Much has been written that the millennial generation will have a very different attitude towards work. While I’ll take a wait and see attitude, the studies are suggesting that they have a broader view of the world and how their choices impact people outside the U.S. This will mean that we’ll be thinking of new ways to engage them and create meaningful work, as well as adjusting our current understanding of work life balance.
The millennials will be presenting us with a great opportunity. But only if we know what’s coming and what to do with “them.”