Gen F Goes to Work

Posted on March 25, 2009

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In this WSJ blog, Gary Hamel talks about the F Generation (assuming that???s me, I guess this blog should be called GenXYZ-MTV-F) and how the lifestyle we???ve become accustomed to in the online world is very different from the archaic management practices of the Fortune 500.  Of Gary???s list of ???12 work-relevant characteristics of online life,??? these are the ones to which I relate most:

1. All ideas compete on an equal footing.
Maybe I???m a little older than Gary???s ???Generation F,??? but I???d argue that my generation needs to step up and share more of our ideas.  It becomes clear after about 5 years in the workforce that no matter how hard you try, some of your ideas never see the outside of a cubicle wall.  I know only a few people who continuously fight for change.  In those cases (where the ideas are good), management is missing an opportunity if they don???t start listening, and steal those ideas to put them into practice. 

2. Contribution counts for more than credentials.
I wholeheartedly agree with this one.  I am tired of reading lists of ???accomplishments??? so long that they blur out all the contributions.  I don???t care if you sat on the board of X or chaired the committee for Y, what new idea did you bring to the table and how did you really impact the organization?  This is especially true in marketing ??? don???t just talk about using Twitter and YouTube, get in there are start contributing so we know you have something worth hearing.  This needs to change in the Fortune 500.

5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned.

Again, being in the workforce for a while will leave you jaded on this one.  It???s where I think the old-school has a point.  Sometimes doing less-than-thrilling tasks makes the world go ???round.  You might even learn something in the process.  However, if we???re going to suck it up, managers should take notice as well.  Don???t just let my generation figure out how to put tools like Facebook into practice.  Take all that ???experience??? you have and try something new for yourself ??? just because it???s not fun for you, doesn???t mean it???s any less important.  In other words, come live in our world and we???ll try to live in yours.

8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
Clearly, old school mangers have taken a page from the government on this one.  Sharing information ??? in almost every case ??? makes my generation feel more engaged, more loyal and even makes us more accountable.  Share.  Share.  Share.  We???re not entitled to the information and we know that, but sometimes creativity and innovation are sparked by something simple, like knowing more.  And who doesn???t want their GenF employees to bring more creativity and hard work to the table?

On a final note, I do believe a lot of my generation suffers from the curse of the poor work ethic.  I???m all for encouraging the old guard to change, but the first thing we need to address is our capacity and willingness to work hard to move the needle.  Creativity, idea generation and embracing new techniques are all great, but there is no substitute for elbow grease and man hours.

p.s. If you'd like a little dose of humor, check out the original blog from Gary Hamel and read the comments.  Easy to tell which generation his readers typically fall into.

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