Monday, January 05, 2009

Gen Y at work

Something interesting I found over at YPulse: Youth marketing to teens, tweens & Generation Y (Gen Y).

Anastasia Goodstein - Ypulse founder - writes about whether it's a good thing to segregate Gen Y employees into homogeneous groups as a way to spark innovation.

She makes a good point: there's a larger problem of re-invigorating the workplace; it's good for everyone, not just the younger employees.

But I wonder whether either option -- innovation groups separated or not separated by age -- solves the real problem. Is it age that's the real barrier to innovation, especially in a economical downturn?

In many cases in the military, the lack of innovation isn't really because of a true lack of ideas -- even across generations. It's not even -- believe it or not -- mostly due to our hierarchical structure in the military. Our young people are not intimidated from coming up with good ideas on their own.

Innovation is like many other behaviors: you get more of what you subsidize.

Our problem is mainly a lack of resources. We have the ideas; we just don't have the time, people or money to implement them. We are rarely allowed to drop one task to become innovative with another. And because we are not a "for-profit" organization, we find it especially difficult to "prove" a new idea works. Innovation generally requires we invest a significant amount of time outside the "normal" day, and with little or no support.

I am often amused when we are challenged to "think outside the box" or to "embrace Web 2.0 as much as the terrorists have".

Well, the problem is that the terrorists don't have to wade through 6 months of paperwork to get permission to access YouTube from their work computers.



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