Wed 9 Jun 2010
I was reading Christopher Drew’s interesting article in the New York Times about how a team of Millennial analysts in the Air Force are being allowed to harness their social networking skills to “to hunt insurgents and save American lives in Afghanistan”. Yes, you read that correctly: The Air Force, part of, you know, the military. The same group that has been known to take a long time embracing technology for fear of security threats and other things..
Well, in a stroke of genius, they decided to leverage the expertise the Millennials have with technology and video games and in the words of the reporter “ they and thousands of other young Air Force analysts are showing how the Facebook generation’s skills are being exploited — and paying dividends — in America’s wars.”
Yes, Millennials are paying dividends to the military. How sceptical do you think the Air Force brass was to this idea? I’d guess a fair amount, wouldn’t you? But someone or some group threw out the box of traditional leadership thinking and experimented with this young group. They were not disappointed and more importantly, lives were saved because they saw and harnessed the value of what a new generation was bringing to the military.
The article quoted a Sargeant Smothers, a Marine stationed as a liaison to the analsyts who said “To me, this whole operation was like a template for what we should be doing in the future.”
He got the Millennials by observing them firsthand. I did too. Seeing the Millennials in action, at the ground level which is very far away from the executive level, you will see a different side to them and it will give you an appreciation of what they can offer – the dividends they can pay you, your team and your organization if given a chance and some support.
So are you going to be like the Air Force and start creating a template for the future? In doing so you will be joining other future focused leaders that are creating the new road map for leadership in the 21st Century. It’s just a baby step…