Some days, it feels like I’m playing whack-a-mole. I got an email blast from an org (need to unsubscribe) that included a link that just reeked of being a myth-ridden piece of hype. So I clicked, and sure enough! And, as part of my commitment to showing my thinking, I’m taking it down. I reckon it’s important to take these myths apart, to show the type of thinking we should avoid if not actively attack. Let me know if you don’t think this is helpful.
The article starts by talking about millennials. That’s a problem right away, as millennials is an arbitrary grouping by birthdate, and therefore is inherently discriminatory. The boundaries are blurry, and most of the differences can be attributed to age, not generation. And that’s a continuum, not a group. As the data shows. Millennials is a myth.
Ok, so they go on to say: “Changing the approach from adapting to Millennials to leveraging Millennials is the key…” Ouch! Maybe it’s just me, but while I like to leverage assets, I think saying that about people seems a bit rude. Look, people are people! You work with them, develop them, etc. Leverage them? That sounds like you’re using them (in the derogatory sense).
They go on to talk about Learning Organizations, which I’m obviously a fan of. And so the ability to continue to learn is important. No argument. But why would that be specific to ‘millennials’? Er…
Here’s another winner: “They natively understand the imperative of change and their clockspeed is already set for the accelerated learning this requires.” This smacks of the ‘digital native’ myth. Young people’s wetware isn’t any different than anyone else’s. They may be more comfortable with the technology, but making assumptions such as this undermines the fact that any one individual may not fit the group mean. And it’s demonstrable that their information skills aren’t any better because of their age.
We move on to 3 ways to leverage millennials:
- Create Cross-pollination through greater teamwork. Yeah, this is a good strategy. FOR EVERYONE. Why attribute it just to millennials? Making diverse teams is just good strategy, period. Including diversity by age? Sure. By generation? Hype. You see this also with the ‘use games for learning’ argument for millennials. No, they’re just better learning designs! (Ok, with the caveat: if done well.)
- Establish a Feedback-Driven Culture to Learn and Grow Together. That’s a fabulous idea; we’re finding that moving to a coaching culture with meaningful assignments and quick feedback (not the quarterly or yearly) is valuable. We can correct course earlier, and people feel more enagaged. Again, for everyone.
- Embrace a Trial-and-Error Approach to Learning to Drive Innovation. Ok, now here I think it’s going off the rails. I’m a fan of experimentation, but trial and error can be smart or random. Only one of those two makes sense. And, to be fair, they do argue for good experimentation in terms of rigor in capturing data and sharing lessons learned. It’s valuable, but again, why is this unique to millennials? It’s just a good practice for innovation.
They let us know there are 3 more ways they’ll share in their next post. You can imagine my anticipation. Hey, we can read two posts with myths, instead of just one. Happy days!
Yes, do the right things (please), but for the right reasons. You could be generous and suggest that they’re using millennials as a stealth tactic to sneak in messages about modern workplace learning. I’m not, as they seem to suggest doing this largely with millennials. This sounds like hype written by a marketing person. And so, while I advocate the policies, I eschew the motivation, and therefore advise you to find better sources for your innovation practices. Let me know if this is helpful (or not ;).