40 I Nonprofit Professional Performance Magazine Social media, despite its power, reach, and potential, would never revolutionize M uch has been written about Millennials, but most of that is not helpful in business. Why focus on Millennials and the way they might be changing nearly every aspect of how we learn, lead and grow in organizations? Because they are in the right place at the right time. Millennials are entering young adulthood when society is poised for a tectonic shift in business, leadership, and management. There is a “perfect storm” of trends converging to generate a revolution in business, affecting organizations of all shapes and sizes. This revolution is overdue.We’ve had horrible employee engagement numbers for the last decade. Trust in organizations is equally abysmal. Our approach to management has been stuck in a rut for decades. Since the early 20th century, we have been running our organizations like machines, and today’s lack of engagement and agility to meet the shifting needs of customers, members and employees indicate how this approach is crumbling. Associations are not immune, struggling to remain relevant to members in a more dynamic, digital world. Capacities for the Future of Business The decline of our century-old management model is just one front that is forcing our hand in this management revolution. The second front is the social internet. While many people think of the internet only in terms of transforming marketing, it has gone much further, facilitating a significant transfer of power from central institutions toward individuals.
their operations and philosophies, and Millennials we spoke to couldn’t understand why these capacities were not woven into every organization. Not everything about these ideas is particularly new—e.g., the push for more transparency inside organizations has been around for decades— but there are unique applications of each of these capacities that specifically align with what is needed today. Digital: perpetual and exponential improvement in all facets of organizational life using the tools and mindsets of the digital world. The industrial model of management was analog—mechanical and linear, like a pocket watch where you see and control how everything works. Digital has a disciplined focus on the customer or end user, including employees.Millennials are the first generation to have known only a digital workplace, and they are used to leveraging that power as individuals. They are confused when digital tools are used for the wrong purposes or kept when they no longer meet a need. Digital organizations grow faster and accomplish more by focusing on users, both internally and externally. Leveraging the mindsets and tools of the digital world, they break through the assumed constraints of the previous approach tomanaging organizations, unlocking new value continuously in areas like internal collaboration and human resource management. Clear: increased and more intelligent flow of information and knowledge supporting innovation and problem solving. Management’s industrial model linked information with power, so it hoarded information at the top, sharing it in a very
management on its own. The catalyst connecting the dots to bring management revolution to fruition, the third front in our perfect storm, is Millennials. As Millennials ascend into management positions over the next several years, they will become the largest generation in the workforce. While they won’t “take over,” they will help clarify what the future of business will look like.Their size, plus their alignment with change brought by social media, will provide the needed management revolution. Change is coming, and smart organizations will start making the necessary adjustments today to stay ahead. In our newest book, When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business, we added to our Humanize research, with an exploration of organizations with remarkably strong cultures, plus interviews with Millennials who had been in the workforce for some time. That research is ongoing; if you were born in 1982-2004 and would like to participate, see https://www.surveymonkey. com/s/millennial-research. Research and feedback from our clients showed four capacities that will prepare organizations for success, now and into the future: Digital, Clear, Fluid, Fast. The companies we found with ridiculously strong cultures built these capacities into