31st July 2017
In a previous blog, we discussed how collaboration has been a part of our lives since we were born. But only recently, has it gained such exposure, especially how important collaboration is in business. In fact, collaboration is top of many company’s agendas nowadays, because the benefits of it are so well known.
But what has caused this rise in awareness of collaboration?
Firstly, let me point out – I am a ‘millennial’. And every time I hear that word I shudder. It’s usually connected with negative traits – self-entitlement, always looking for praise, expect responsibilities beyond their experience but not willing to put the work in, addicted to technology – the list goes on. With the exception of being addicted to technology, I don’t think I’m like that at all. So from now on, for complete selfish reasons, I’m going to refer to Millennials as Generation Y.
True – Generation Y aren’t shy when we start our career and make demands about what type of environment we want to work in.
Some see this as pushy, but it’s not the case. It’s simply because we bring a fresh attitude to the world of work, and are savvy with the latest technology, having used it in school or university. We’ve been encouraged to work in groups where possible, whether that’s in school in study groups, or at university working on group projects, and we agree with the term “two heads are better than one”. We’re also used to working with like-minded people, who are used to the latest technology, and using it comes as second nature to them.
A few years ago, my mum asked me to set her up a ‘MyFace’ (some sort of hybrid MySpace vs Facebook that she’d made up) to keep in touch with family members overseas. I’ll admit, I rolled my eyes. Then I remembered that she literally had to teach me how to use a spoon and my feet were dragged back down to earth. But then, following her insistence to complete the Facebook setup wizard and add a picture, a birthday, an occupation, I was getting impatient. “You can skip all that come back to it later, just start adding your friends” I told her. Not going to happen. She was doing everything in the proper order.
Then it dawned on me. My mum, being a part of the baby boomer generation, has a different logic than me. In school, they had limited tools – usually books and a blackboard, and because of this constriction they were taught to be linear thinkers. Linear thinking is defined as a process of thought following known cycles or step-by-step progression where a response to a step must be elicited before another step is taken.
Generation Y are non-linear thinkers. In other words, human thought characterized by expansion in multiple directions, rather than in one direction, and based on the concept that there are multiple starting points from which one can apply logic to a problem. I think this is due to a couple of things. One is the way in which we learn. With flipped and self-learning, we were free to learn things the way that suited us as individuals. No more of the teacher at the blackboard telling us exactly how to think and feel. We were guided by teachers, and new technology, and instructed to go home and research topics ourselves. We also worked on projects in groups – so a clear workflow I may have taken, one of my peers may have done it in an entirely different way, which makes both parties alter their initial thought process. Secondly, even our lives are different from baby boomers. We are changing the definition of traditional families. We don’t necessarily follow the traditional linear path from education and graduation to marriage and then starting a family.
Whilst baby boomers’ linear thinking was suited to their time, and does have its place today, this new spatial thinking (and living) is more relevant in today’s world. Likewise, in another 30 years, there will probably be a whole new method of thinking!
But instead of resenting Generation Y, and all their flaws (every generation has them), we should be embracing what we bring to the table in business.
Generation Y have made a huge impact on technology today. We want technology that enable us to work the way we want to work. Not technology that dictates how we should work. This in itself is influencing technology companies – forcing us to put more efforts into user experience and outcomes.
As previously mentioned, Generation Y are behind the worldwide push for collaboration. We've collaborated with fellow students for the best part of ten years, and want nothing less in the workplace. We understand how working together in a team ‘halves the work, and doubles the success’. We're confident enough to break the mentality of “we’ve always done it this way” and challenge organisations to become more agile and more innovative.
Baby boomers, and Generation X have the in-depth company knowledge, and leadership skills, that most of Generation Y just doesn’t have at this point, and that they thrive to achieve.
So instead of pitting generations against each other, facilitate collaborative working, so that your organisation benefits from the skills of all generations. This is a formula for success.
When it comes to meetings, baby boomers tend to prefer a scheduled meeting, a set agenda, and face-to-face discussion. Generation Y prefer ad hoc meetings, as and when needed, and the option to join meetings from anywhere. Generation X are probably somewhere in the middle.
How do you please all generations?
As a member of Generation Y, I expect the company I work with to have modern technology. It doesn’t need to be the top of the range, latest model of laptop, tablet, or display. But it needs to do what I expect and need it to do, without any hassle whatsoever. It needs to make my job easier (this isn't laziness, this is me wanting to work as efficiently as possible). I want to work smarter, not harder. What’s more, any applications or products I use should work on any device, and interact with any device. In this day and age, this is baseline necessary.
One of the key things I try to find out about an organisation if I am thinking about working there, is how open they are to new ideas and suggestions, and if they have an overall collaborative culture. If they use products like collaborative whiteboards, screen-sharing etc. If they aren’t open, creativity can’t flourish, and innovation simply won’t happen. Same with flexibility and agility. A company needs to be flexible and agile, in order to thrive, and technology such as video-conferencing, and wireless presentation systems aid this.
DisplayNote Montage, combines collaboration tools with screen-sharing to provide the ultimate meeting experience, to please everyone. Participants can connect from anywhere, on any device, so it feels like they are in the same room as their colleagues, and in the middle of the action. Screen-sharing allows everyone to be on the same page, focusing on the same piece of content, and encouraging creativity and idea sharing. Participants can annotate over shared content, providing suggestions and feedback. This content can be saved, and shared with colleagues, so everyone can head back to their desk to finish their part of the project.
All of this results in a truly collaborative meeting.