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Open Collaboration: A Hybrid Space for Generation Gaps


I had the pleasure and honor of attending the 2015 ADWKDC Conference, held this year at the FHI 360 Conference Center. While Creativity, Strategy, and Media were key highlights in subject matter, many of the breakout sessions and keynote speeches focused on a big media trend for 2015: Millennials. I learned about how Millennials react as employees and as consumers, how their matriculation into the professional field has turned many old expectations on their head, and how even the way that businesses think has transformed as a result.

Millennials have several key traits: they are extremely civic-minded. They care about the environment, the welfare of the world, and their part in it. Millennials have extremely high expectations. Millennials were raised to believe that if you do well in college you’ll get a great job and succeed. They care about being educated. Economic, social, and situational rules do not govern Millennials. They are not brand loyal; they are interested finding the best item/deal for their needs, typically after reading reviews or receiving good feedback from a trusted source. Millennials are impatient. If results can be delivered instantaneously, they should be.

Right now, Millennials are the largest part of the workforce, and the tipping point where they will become the capable majority is right around the corner. The Millennial workforce is different than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers: they exude confidence and come into the workforce, ready to make a difference. They want to make a difference. They have new ideas on how to revolutionize a company’s process. Even without professional experience, their internship experience, thirst for knowledge, and ability to maximize technology provides room for them to make a thumbprint into the company’s bottom line from day one.

So, how does this all boil down to changing the way that companies are collaborating?

Carousel30 has answered this question by centering open collaboration as the foundation for our processes. The majority of our staff is composed of Millennials, and all ideas are bolstered by research and a quest for success.

Instead of turning to our most experienced leaders for strategic answers to our clients’ problems, our CEO Greg Kihlström has instead, created a safe and collaborative environment that encourages a democracy of ideas. We work on an even platform and flat hierarchy that rewards all ideas from any staff member.

Everyone, from the intern to the CEO works in cubical pods, where everyone is easily accessible. We’re encouraged to brainstorm innovative solutions for our clients, and do so regularly to keep up (and ahead of!) industry trends and updates. In many examples, our teams will come to brainstorming meetings with good ideas that as a group, we transform into great solutions. I personally leave work feeling accomplished and with a great deal of respect for my colleagues. Most importantly, we also experience these accomplishments as a team, achieving a company value of reaching success by working together.

We do not undercut the value that added work experience brings to the table. Attending classes, seminars, conferences, and continuing to stay abreast of the industry acts as a big support net. The opportunity to attend these events may take away from active work hours, but the results speak for themselves: the quality of the work we provide our clients is superior because we can back it up.

Ultimately, embracing the skill sets that the Millennials bring may net long term rewards. Many companies are defined by the people that work for it--leverage your team! Encourage collaboration, discussion, open communication. You know what they say, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!