I am a baby-boomer. As with most generations, as we have aged we tend to ridicule the younger generations coming up behind us. In our case, I have talked with a number of peers who have expressed their concern with the entitled, “video game generation” that do not appear to take much of anything, other than video games, very seriously. This is particularly true in industry where there is an uneven age distributions with an inordinate number of baby-boomers with a huge amount of experience getting ready to retire. Most likely Millennials will fill the void. There seems to be significant doubt that they are up to the task.
I must admit that this is not my perspective or my experience in dealings with the Millennial generation. I have actually found the Millennials I have worked with to be very different than the stereotype. They have a number of characteristics that make them the right people for replacing the retiring baby-boomers.
I cannot cover all the attributes of Millennials in this short discourse, but there are three that truly stand out. First, Millennials are by leaps and bounds the most technology savvy generation ever. They can use the technology baby-boomers (and others) have created much more effectively than those who created it. The technology to power industry developed over the past 5 decades is very impressive, but the baby-boomers who developed much of it are not very good at using it. Millennials are!
Second, they tend to be team-oriented to a much greater degree than baby-boomers. Baby-boomers were trained to be individualists, solving problems on their own. Millennials love to work together to solve problems. Over the past century, industrial organizations have evolved to be comprised of almost impenetrable silos of talent. If the people in the organizational silos would finally start to effectively collaborate to solve cross-silo problems, they may be able to create huge amounts of value. The teaming tendency of Millennials may finally result in real collaboration.
Finally, Millennials tend to be much more altruistic in their occupational goals. Industry and industrial automation are in the position of being able to solve some of the world’s greatest challenges, such as available energy, clean water, world hunger, health and a clean and sustainable environment. The altruism of Millennials may be exactly what is needed to finally meet these challenges.
Yes – Millennials may just be the right generation at the perfect time!