Written Posts

Who’s Calling the Shots???

0 Comments 08 July 2008

Last night I watched Nightline on ABC.  I know, I know, what is a 31 year old guy doing watching Nightline.  Well, it’s between the sports report on the local news and Jimmy Kimmel, so I think it’s OK.  Usually I’m reading a golf magazine or something while it’s on so it takes something special to catch my attention.  Last night I was torn away from an article about mallet putters with a great report about Zappos.com.

After watching the report I thought, wow, these guys have the right idea about corporate culture.  I hear these stories all the time about companies that have extensive training programs, a teamwork culture, and an all around fun working environment.  So, why do these stories make the headlines while the rest of corporate America just keeps doing things the way they have always done it?  Why aren’t other businesses following suit?  I have come to some conclusions and these conclusions have led me to a potential experiment.

While the Baby Boomer generation has started or taken over many of the core businesses we see today, they have done so with principles that worked just fine back in the 1900s.  Hard work, respect your superiors, work harder, cut expenses, raise prices, stay late, print advertising is awesome, etc., etc.  While many of these values still have merit and a place in business today (maybe not the print ads) I think the X and Y generation leaders are focusing more on people and less these “old” business ideals.  Now, there may be a few exceptions to the rule, but my gut is telling me that young people of the X and Y generation are pushing the buttons in these businesses that are “doing it right”.  Whether they are calling the shots themselves or just persuading their Baby Boomer superiors to agree with the strategy, Gen X and Y are making an impact on businesses in a great way that creates exciting corporate cultures.

So, why don’t more business follow suit?  1. CEO or President is old and doesn’t want to listen (“That’s the way we’ve always done it.”)  2. The business is large and so established that a culture shift will take decades to implement (therefore too overwhelming a task to tackle).  So this leads me to my potential experiment.  Here goes . . . give your young associates some empowerment.  I’ve read countless articles now on the difficulty of working with Gen Y and how they feel under-appreciated, working below themselves, or not climbing the corp. ladder quick enough.  Well, let’s stop complaining about them and get them involved.  Experience is extremely helpful, but the best ideas come from fresh eyes.  Let’s challenge these young minds and help them to create new corporate culture from the bottom up.  They are the masses in most companies, but with a top down approach they may never be heard until it’s too late and they are tainted by “the way we’ve always done it”.

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