The great thing about people knowing about my interest in Gen Y is that they always send me anything they come across that relates to the generation.  A colleague of mine recently sent me this video below of a TED talk in Australia.  You all know how I love TED and TEDx and often encourage leaders to use some of the great TED footage to spark interesting conversations & ideas within their teams.

This particular TED talk is given by a Gen Yer called Rachel Botsman.  Rachel has been fascinated by the topic of collaboration which as a Gen Yer doesn’t surprise me.  But in particular, she is looking at the trends that are evolving related to collaboration and consumption which she is calling collaborative consumption.  It’s a fascinating look at some of the ways that technology is radically shaping the 21st Century in ways we can’t even fathom. 

According to Rachel, her generation is not as interested as Baby Boomers in owning “stuff”.  They are  more interested in the experience that the “stuff” provides.  She gives many examples of what she means.  Here’s a simple one:  a DVD.  In the past, people were focused on buying a DVD so they could have a copy of their favorite movie or show to watch as their convenience.  Today, young people are more interested in the experience the DVD provides them than actually owning the DVD itself.  In fact, they’d prefer not to own it at all and just have access when needed.

Watch the video & see what I mean:

To me, this is another great example of how Gen Yers are wired & how differently they see things when compared to Baby Boomers. What they value, how they think, even how they come up with ideas is totally distinctive.  I’ve seen this firsthand as I have observed Gen Yers intently over these past 8 years.  This is one of the major reasons I work with corporate leaders to get them to understand that trying to mold Gen Yers into the existing corporate structure is a big mistake.  The leaders and organizations that do that are leaving money & talent on the table.  

All the societal, technological, & global forces that came together to shape the lives of Gen Yers from a very early age manifest themselves in how differently they see the world & in how they think.  Trying to make them conform to a corporate structure that was created in a past that is very different than what we face today is a recipe for failure.  More importantly, we are not serving these next generation leaders. We are not helping to prepare them to be effective leaders in a world that resembles what they are used to much more than what we are used to as Baby Boomers.  Because we are not always comfortable in their world, we often choose to ignore it and stick to what is comfortable to us. But is that fair to Gen Y?  How do we ensure the leadership of corporations in the 21st Century is the best it can be if we don’t challenge our leadership comfort zones and pay attention to the next generation?

In addition to being our future leaders, Gen Yers will be a huge consumer force when they all reach adulthood.  We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of how their unique experiences will shape their interest in all types of products in the future – from gadgets, to clothes to cars.  The sooner we as leaders learn to appreciate their unique perspectives as employees currently working in our organizations today, the sooner we will get to understand them as consumers & be prepared to meet their needs in the future. 

So what are you doing today to leverage the unique mindset of the Millennials in your team?  What are you doing to unleash creative ideas that can lead to innovation down the line?  Remember the future will look more like the world the Millennials have grown up in than the one you are comfortable in.  It might be a good idea to start to C.A.R.E. about what that Gen Yworld looks like.