Beloit College, in Wisconsin, creates every year a ‘Mindset List’ It shows a list of facts about a particular new class or colleague intake. On the ‘Class of 2019′, one can read things such as, they may believe that ‘Hong Kong has always been under Chinese rule’ or ‘hybrid automobiles have always been mass produced’, or ‘if you say “around the turn of the century,” they may well ask you, “which one?”. The list is sort of hilarious. It also contains ‘these people have never licked a stamp’.
Beyond the anecdote, there are serous points. A professor of Sociology there, puts it like this: ‘The Class of 2019 will enter college with high technology an increasing factor in how and even what they learn. They will encounter difficult discussions about privilege, race, and sexual assault on campus. They may think of the ‘last century’ as the twentieth, not the nineteenth, so they will need ever wider perspectives about the burgeoning mass of information that will be heading their way. And they will need a keen ability to decipher what is the same and what has changed with respect to many of these issues’. Amen to it, I say.
So, in our organizations, do we really understand the who is who of our segmented work force? My impression is not. We simply default to a superficial, unhelpful, anecdotal and infuriating comments on ‘The Millennials’ as our climax of segmentation. And then, so what with The Millennials? Well, they get the same PowerPoints, the same top down messages and the same Town Hall meeting as everybody else. Oh! But the Millennials are soooo different! Say the mostly male, mostly grown up, leadership team.
We need to understand the tribal nature of the organization, the real peer-to-peer networks of ‘people like us’, where the powerful conversations take place. And once we do, once we have segmented, we need to treat those tribal layers differently. Yep, harder than a top down, single communication tsunami.
The ‘what do the ones who have never licked a stamp say?’ should be one of the multiple tests. Claiming no idea, is not a good idea.