Generation Y and the effect on the enterprise

Generation Y has been the subject of many workplace studies. Ys are criticised for being overly conscious of their value to the organisation and “too precious” about the myriad career choices open to them. On the other hand, they have also justly been credited with driving much of today’s technology-led innovation.

This is in large part due to their prodigious consumption of information — and equally prolific record of contributing to knowledge — both as innovators in their own right and in their preference for open, collaborative new ways of communicating, which tends to spur innovation.

Good thing
Thus it would seem that a workforce of young turks who question and try out everything can be a very good thing. And indeed my research and experience of such work environments bears this out. In reality, however, a complex array of factors comes into play when young blood enters the system. Mirroring the good and bad of Gen Y-ers themselves, their impact tends to be both energising and stressful.

In this context, organisations can use social business software (SBS) very effectively to mitigate the impacts of generational renewal while managing a positively balanced outcome – characterised by open innovation on the one hand and a robust security posture on the other.

Tale of two (inverse) cycles
The impact of upping your Gen-Y staff component works in two opposite cycles:

Cycle 1 — restricting
As organisations increase their Gen Y staff component, a generation gap may open up. Different behaviours, communication approaches and viewpoints separate older generations and Generation Y-ers, with the latter group generally exposed to a vastly bigger array of media and educational opportunities, as well as a more global formative environment.

New hires often experience difficulty in dealing with older generations. With the latter group markedly less open to accepting others, trust levels in the organisation tend to drop.

The very presence of Y-ers in the enterprise can further be considered major change, as they bring with them a greater reliance on technology and open communication, and a quick but non-linear style of processing information. This invariably leads to a stricter information security stance, which in turn necessitates adaptation of enterprise risk management policy frameworks, to protect social systems from unauthorised, unanticipated or unintentional modification.

Ultimately, this puts a dampener on the zeal and dynamism of the Gen Y mind-set of an organisation and minimises their positive contribution.

Cycle 2 — balancing
But the new generation’s affinity for technology tends to work in the opposite direction too, allowing Gen Y-ers to come into their own and make a self-reinforcing contribution to their organisations. It starts in this way: as organisations increase their Gen Y component, they often experience an increase in the adoption of SBS. By way of elucidation, it must be noted that social media can be organised into four categories – communication, collaboration, multimedia and edutainment platforms. This means organisations will often in such cases see improved collaboration and communication, increased efficiencies, and project savings.

This generally leads to heightened levels of open innovation, allowing organisations to maximise their knowledge resources by extending collaboration to partners outside the confines of enterprise boundaries.

Ultimately, the use of both internal and external capabilities in solving problems or creating new products, assets or channels greatly improve organisations’ competitive standing and chances of survival.

Resolving the conflict
In effect, it is a virtuous cycle that ends (and begins) with an increase in the Gen-Y mindset in the organisation. The positive cycle succeeds in balancing out the negative one, but it is SBS that stands central to organisations’ ability to turn mutually destructive forces into positive, self-reinforcing change.

As companies try to cope with new markets, technologies, attitudes and behaviours, SBS is their best chance to embrace change and rally a new generation of millennials to ensure their continued success.

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.

This article was first published in the memeburn.com site:

http://memeburn.com/2013/10/social-media-can-seriously-unlock-the-value-of-gen-y-employees-heres-how/

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Getting from Social Business to Open Innovation.

So you’re using your Social Business Software platform to generate new ideas, everyone’s generally engaged and you have a sense that the mood is improving and communication is up. But what about the ideas that are being generated? When an idea is posted within your community, is there a process to determine which ideas are good, bad, worth taking further, as far as perhaps being called innovative innovations. How do you take these ideas through the full cycle to the point of delivering them them back to the business. How does this delivery take place?

Here’s the three letter “I” challenge –

Ideation;

Invigoration; and

Implementation

Most organisations are not geared for innovation. So while you’re creating your Social Business Software strategy and implementation plan, you need to understand that you are actually changing it, changing your business, altering your future, shifting your paradigm and acknowledging the power in your people. It’s called open innovation.

Too much emphasis is being placed on generating ideas (ideation) and far too little time is spent on the actual translation into action and then the implementation and execution of these ideas.

So I propose a change from the conventional innovation equation of:

innovation = ideas

to:

innovation = ideas + planning + implementation + recognition

If you have invested in a social business strategy and platform with a view to improving innovation then this is how you need to go about ensuring you achieve your objectives:

  1. Create an environment where you can stimulate ideas. Let the SBS platform automatically trigger these conversations and put SBS champions in charge of driving this process;
  2. Create an open ideation group within your SBS Community. So that everyone is encouraged to participate and build on each other’s ideas;
  3. Get the champions to meet (virtually and in person), to discuss the ideas posted in the ideation and other groups. Empower them to take decisions on which ideas to take further and encourage them to give feedback. Be dynamic and be engaged. This is not intended to be another hierarchy;
  4. Great ideas need to get the green light. They need to have actions plans with timelines behind them to ensure they get successfully implemented. And the initiator needs to be acknowledged and encouraged to be part of the success team responsible for the implementation;
  5. The mandate given to the idea committee and the ideator gives them ownership of the success;  and
  6. Create an incentive scheme for great ideas. This can be done through senior management recognition, monetary rewards or both. These schemes can be done weekly, monthly or when projects are completed.

You have to work on a small win methodology… take small wins and let them become big wins over time.

It’s powerful stuff… this social business thing!

Gys is the Co-founder and CEO of WyseTalk (Pty) Ltd. Africa’s leading social business software platform. Gys’s Masters thesis entitled ‘The delay of Social business Software in the Enterprise and its effects’ has won him international acclaim.