Millennials Won’t Change Work; Work Will Change Millennials – Really?

9 thoughts on “Millennials Won’t Change Work; Work Will Change Millennials – Really?”

  1. Just as GenX shifted and changed the workforce, it will shift once again with Millennials. It’s naive to hold fast to the belief that the formal structures that Boomers built and enjoy will remain the norm. Need an example of the shifts coming? Compare the formal structure of a place like IBM or Kodak with less-formal structure of Google or Zappos. Even Google as it grew and built in some structures to align functions maintains a more ‘open’ collaborative and constructive environment.

    Millennials are 100 million strong and not even half have joined the full-time workforce. GenX which was 1/3 that size created huge shifts in structure. A few examples – casual work dress, open office plans, more frequent reviews, independent work structures, telecommuting, title creativity, work/life balance considerations, and more. All that from a single, small generation. To state that Millennials won’t affect formal business structures is to ignore the potential impact of 100 million people and their impact on every business in America.

  2. Hello, Luis. Are you tired of seeing my here? Just kidding. I know how much you love engagement. Me too! This subject, as you well know, is near and dear to my heart. As a self-described BooMillennial, I believe I demonstrate traits of both generations. Actually, I probably demonstrate traits of others as well, but how do I come up with a neologism for that?

    However, as I have stated elsewhere numerous times, as a proponent of the philosophy of Dialectical Materialism (I’ll leave it to anyone who encounters this comment to look it up if they wish), I am of the opinion that the way in which we work is the primary discriminator in how we get things done. Having said that, however, I also believe it is not only possible, but an evolutionary reality that we continuously (albeit subtly most of the time) change our working conditions over time.

    In my opinion, Andrew is partly correct in that we still work according to many of the tenets set forth by Fredrick Taylor, and we tend to be hierarchically organized and use command-and-control structures for more than I have a taste for. At the same time, as you, I, and many others have discussed before (even Andy has), there are forces inexorably changing how we get our work done, and I am very much in favor of them winning.

    OTOH, I was very active in the anti-war (Vietnam) movement many years ago, was a Hippie 1.0, and I have had the great misfortune of seeing my “generation” actually accomplish very little in the way of changing things like we thought we should . . . and could.

    So . . . as I tweeted a little bit ago, I’m kind of in agreement with both of you. We spend too much time on generational stereotypes IMO, when the real differences are to be found in the technologies available to us and the forms of organization they give us the ability to engage in (that’s the materialist part of Materialist Dialectics ;).

  3. I’m torn on this one, Luis. As much as I would love to believe that it will happen, I think Andy is mostly right. There are cultures which will change incrementally, but not radically as you and I hope they would. Why? The Millenials will be forced to work according to the culture, processes and confines of a specific business. One – even many Millenials with zero authority won’t make a major change.

    Although I don’t believe the future change is there, I do believe it will be somewhere else. You and J Schmitt came close to it. She pointed out that the example of change is from Google and Zappos. Both of those are new businesses. And I think this is where the change will happen – new startups. Not changing current, but inventing new and starting afresh. THIS is how it the old businesses will adjust. They will see the actions of these and be FORCED to adjust.

    As we progress toward our Hippie 2.0 ideals, I believe it will be those who start anew, not those who try to change something existing that will have the most profound effects.

  4. Experience taught me that Yers are not as disruptive and change-driving as they are told. On the other hand organizations will have to change, and they’ll do, going (even slightly) in the Yers way, albeit not as fast as me may like.
    Balancing all that have made me think of something for a couple a months and nothing made me change my mind yet :

    enterprises and millenials will change together, not because the one because of the other.

    It’s about co-evolution, not confrontation. Otherwise it will be a loose-loose deal.

  5. Fine post Luis, and you beat me to it by a few hours: http://www.martijnlinssen.com/2010/07/generations-social-and-enterprise-adopt.html

    I’m glad to encounter my dear living dinosaur Rick in here, who never ceases to make valid points all the time – without tripping over his own tongue but that’s how it is 😉

    Just keeping it short: for big emps and orgs and ents, the way we work *has* to change

    Oh and Kevin? Millennials don’t get forced, they just move over to the next best biz, or anything else. The absence of religious or political dogmas helps to focus on what’s important: today!

  6. Wonderful post and very consistent with the key theme in my new book, The Power of Pull, of the movement from knowledge stocks to knowledge flows as the foundation for economic value creation. Would be very interested in your perspective on this book.

  7. Reading this and pondering the words of “Tribal Leadership,” I see the signs of the different stages in what you write. Luis- you are aiming for Stage 4 and Stage 5 workplaces of the future, but Andrew McAfee is writing from a perspective of Stage 3 or even Stage 2. In that world, of course, the workplace will change the people. But in Stage 4/5 it is the people that CREATE the workplace.

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