By Massimo Merlino, Strategy, Change Management and Logistics Consultant.
The Millennials are, in some ways, the people we dreamed of having when we dealt with Change Management in the distant nineties of the last century.
Then, working in skill silos, how many times we would have wanted collaborative people, capable of team building, with an integrated vision of the company, or, on the side of technologies, easier to use tools, created for non-specialists – not only for the computer technicians – pervasive in everyday business? Well, gentlemen, here we are, but maybe we didn’t realize it or we still don’t know how to insert and manage the Millennials in the right way, or rather the company remained in its bureaucratic silos. The real challenge is to put the Millennial culture at the center of the Digital Transformation processes that companies are experiencing today and in perspective.
The real challenge is to put the Millennial culture at the center of the Digital Transformation processes that companies are experiencing today and in perspective.
DO THINGS ALONE OUT OF THE ORGANIZATION AND DO THINGS WITH OTHERS INSIDE THE ORGANIZATION
It is very different to browse and do things on the web by yourself and instead work with others within predefined paths, or within organizational processes defined by the organizations. In the early 2000s (between 2002 and 2005) when I was teaching at the Faculty of Management Engineering of the University of Bergamo and the Millennials were not yet on the square, I tried to start a “Web Process Reengineering” speech, More specifically I introduced into the my university course questions such as: what will be the impact of the Internet on the design of business processes? How will the Web transform business processes? How to succeed in reenginering business processes taking into account both web opportunities and the need to redesign organizations?
This to emphasize how talking about the Web in the company would not have involved so much or only processes of digitalization of existing processes as the need to reinvent processes from scratch. This is the key issue if you want to: rethink the way organizations work to allow the Millennial culture to constructively inhabit them! My course of long ago meant to explore a topic of great relevance even now and in perspective. In fact, the data suggest that organizations still have a significant gap between what their customers see, their engagement systems (engagement) with the outside, and the way in which business is actually done and their main back-up systems -end registration. Even then, I stated: “organizations understand that they must automate themselves and must expose their back-end processes to light by rethinking them in a revolutionary way”. And again: “68% of organizations agree that business at paper speed will be unacceptable in a few years”.
We need to rethink how organizations work to enable the Millennial culture to constructively inhabit them!
I had staked all the papers of my course on organizational processes because it was clear to me that my students were surfing the Web doing so “a thousand things” (maybe this is the true meaning of Millennial) but alone and with terror I foreshadowed sclerotic situations that they would find once they started to work in the company, within reality where SAP was spreading. As you know SAP is a management software for the management of all company processes: it allows to optimize the management of business activities having a prevailing orientation to cost savings and decision time. It was precisely for this reason that I considered it important for students to have an all-round understanding of the impact that the web could have on changing organizational processes not only in terms of optimization but also in terms of revolutionary innovation. Unfortunately that course was suppressed a few years later because it could not be placed in the engineering disciplinary boxes. Another proof that the culture of innovation is not everyone’s heritage and is not easy to spread!
My students were surfing the Web doing “a thousand things”: perhaps this is the true meaning of Millennial.
THE MILLENNIALS ARE INCARNATED TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION, THE FIRST STAGE OF FOLLOWING MAN-MACHINE FUSIONS
A digital native is horizontal, interdisciplinary, does not know hierarchies, thinks of others as members of virtual groups with which he exchanges messages, videos, ways of working. Today, many years later, I witness the educated ruminations of Polytechnic colleagues who doubt the organizational organization of the company due to the impact of the Millennials. It is not so! The Millennials are the people we have been waiting for, when we worked hard in complex ex cathedra training plans to digest the change in the first technological wave that killed and injured people, and my brilliant collaborators were nurses of users massacred by information technology and communication … of my grandfather. How we wanted to stay at home in our pajamas to appear, thanks to the web, instantly on thousands of devices talking to greedy people again, without all those slides, often illegible, delivered to demotivated and semi-sleeping people. Here, the Millennials are embodied technological innovation, the first stage of successive human-machine fusions that I hope to see again. Companies and organizations, banks and public administrations are in socio-industrial archeology and managers wait for retirement by postponing decisions on technologies that they do not understand and thus accelerating the end of them and of the companies they manage.
BEST WISHES TO MILLENNIALS!
Then there are, obviously, also more deficient sides from the point of view of the fall of attention, of cultural deepening, of strategic leadership skills, but the positive aspects seem to me to be very prevalent. And technology has also made them sleepless workers, nerds that many multinationals have readily enslaved. But if in the 90s we also asked for hearts in the company vision / mission, the Millennials are not loyal to corporate mystics and know how to defend themselves by changing jobs through the Web. I think that many discussions on this topic are just alibis of previous generations now comfortably crouching over their technological ignorance, hoping to finish their career without finding new challenges at home. Europe, Italy and Japan did not do the BPR of 1989, which relaunched the US, and of course resist even the digitalization, which always from the USA will trigger the real second wave that will change companies, economies and society. Greetings to the Millennials !.