I recently gave a presentation around how businesses could more effectively appeal to ‘Generation Y’ (i.e., anyone within the rough age bracket of 21-30, sometimes referred to as ‘Millennials’). Falling under this category myself, most of my preparation involved reflecting on some of my own patterns of behaviour and preferences. The central messages which I concluded were that my generation is not only tech savvy but has a technological expectation, we have access to an historically vast amount of information and that we navigate this information through sharing on a peer to peer basis, communicating with rather than to a source. It led me to think that such traits uniquely dispose Generation Y towards collaborative working methods.

An exercise to demonstrate the complexities of networks and relationships

An exercise to demonstrate the complexities of networks and relationships

Firstly, being ‘tech-savvy’ is a defining characteristic of Generation Y. However what I see as being almost more noteworthy is that as ‘tech natives’ (rather than the Gen X ‘tech migrants’), Gen Y are aware of the technological solutions that exist and expect to see them used. What this means for collaboration is that physical distance is not considered a barrier for Gen Y. In the ASE, it is critical that we have the right people in the room when making decisions. Having the technological expectation that we do, Millennials know that with the right capability, you can have the right people together in any room!

One of the key benefits of a collaborative working style is that each participant brings their own wealth of expertise, experience, knowledge and viewpoints to the table. The informative and communicative landscape of Gen Y makes it even more important for individuals to come together collaboratively when working. Because we have easy access to a wealth of information from so many sources, expertise are not so cleanly defined and categorised as they were for previous generations. Gathering people together in a collaborative way, all will have had access to a different Twitter feed, may have stumbled across varying articles on LinkedIn or Stumble depending on their interests. These varying information stores mean that collaborative methods produce a richer result than siloed working.

Attendees undertake a team building exercise in the ASE

Finally, a key necessity of effective collaboration within the ASE is that all participants are on an equal footing. This is central to the way that Gen Y thinks and operates. Non-hierarchical ways of working are often cited as a differentiator between Gen Y and Gen X. I believe that this preference is again linked to our informative and communicative landscape. This is a generation that have grown up with the internet, a platform on which there is no hierarchy, or even an official overarching authority. Our entire social communication is based on the same principles. All social media platforms are inherently collaborative, based on information sharing, networks and relatively easy access to anyone across the globe. Communication is not a simple one-directional process for our generation; we are constantly being informed and informing through multiple networks.

So, I would agree with Generation Y being dubbed ‘Generation Collaboration’. We are uniquely positioned in terms of relationships with technology, information and through new methods of social sharing and networking. These defining traits mean that we gravitate and towards and excel within a collaborative model of working. Collaboration must be the way of the future!