“When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business” Presented by Jamie Notter & Maddie Grant

Zintro Webinar

Presented by Jamie Notter & Maddie Grant, Principals – Culture That Works, LLC.

Presenter’s Note:
“Whether we are ready for it or not, the future of business is here. It’s a future in which organizations must learn how to move faster, flatten their hierarchies, share more openly, and operate more digitally. And although many of these changes are a direct result of the Millennial generation shaking up today’s workplaces, it’s much bigger than that. This new era goes beyond generations–and requires leaders from every generation to learn new ways of working, leading, and managing. In this session, author and thought leaders Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant will share research, case studies and lessons learned from their newest book, When Millennials Take Over. They will facilitate a robust discussion where all can explore the new thinking that is driving the most powerful workplaces in today’s economy, particularly the innovative ways they are becoming more digital at the core of their cultures.”

About Jamie & Maddie:
Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant have been collaborating for several years at the intersection of social media and leadership. Maddie is a digital strategist and Editor of SocialFish, a well-known industry blog focusing on social media for associations and nonprofits, and Jamie has been consulting to organizations on issues of conflict, strategy, and organizational culture for more than 15 years. In 2012, they published their first book together, Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World. In 2014, they launched their consulting firm together, Culture That Works LLC, helping organizations build stronger cultures for better performance.

Do you have a suggestion for a webinar topic or presenter?

Let us know

Would you like to discuss an idea with our Business Development team?

Fill out our Business Development contact form and let us know.

Are you looking for an Expertise Provider for a Project, Job or Consultation?

Other useful links



Enrique: Hello and welcome everyone. My name is Enrique Levin, co-founder and VP of Product at Zintro. Zintro is a global online marketplace that helps companies connect with highly specialized consultants and other expertise providers for projects that range from one-hour phone consults to multi-side engagements and even full-time jobs. Today’s webinar, When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business, will be presented by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant, Principals at Culture That Works, LLC. It is with great pleasure I introduce Zintro experts Jamie and Maddie.

Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant have been collaborating for several years at the intersection of social media and leadership. Maddie is a Digital Strategist and Editor of SocialFish, a well-known industry blog focusing on social media for associations and non-profits. And Jamie has been consulting to organizations on issues of conflict strategy and organizational culture for more than 50 years. In 2012, they published their first book together, Humanize: How People-Centric Organizations Succeed in a Social World. In 2013, they launched their consulting firm together, Culture That Works, LLC., helping organizations build stronger cultures for better performance.

If you would like to ask Jamie and Maddie any specific questions throughout the presentation, feel free to use the question section of your go-to-webinar platform. Click on the little orange arrow on the top right corner of your screen and you will see the question section where you can ask any question throughout the presentation. Jamie and Maddie will respond to questions at the end of the webinar. We will also be providing their contact information in case you want to reach out to them for a follow-up consultation or anything else, any kind of follow-up, so stay tuned.

Without further ado, I’d like to turn it over to our presenters, Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant.

Maddie: Hi, there. Thank you for the intro. So I am Maddie Grant, obviously, and I’m here with Jamie Notter. Jamie, you want to say hi?

Jamie: Howdy, everybody.

Maddie: I just wanted to give a little bit of extra background into why we’re here today. We are culture change consultants through our firm Culture That Works, meaning that we help organizations to find the cultural values and principles that truly drive their success beyond just the nice value statements on the wall. We believe that this kind of work leads to more engaged employees and more loyal customers. So a little bit about our background. I am a digital and social media strategist working with mostly associations and non-profits and Jamie is a management consultant with expertise in conflict resolution, generational diversity and the organizational development. We’ve done a lot of speaking and writing together over the last many years. And a few years ago, around the advent of social media becoming really popular, our work started to coalesce around the idea that social media actually changes not just marketing and communications but management and leadership and how we run our organization.

In 2011, we wrote a book called Humanize: How People-Centric Organization Succeed in a Social World which describe that in great detail. So for example, how organizations we need to become more transparent, more trustworthy, more collaborative, more decentralized, things like that in order to really take advantage of our now social world. And so now three year later, we’ve realized that the advent of the millennial generation into management position is actually going to act as a big catalyst for these kinds of ideas to really take hold. And as Jamie is going to explain, we’ve done a lot of research and found a lot of instances of that happening, so that’s what this new book is about, When Millennial Takes Over. So just to start with we’d like to see who’s here with us. Enrique, can you run the first poll?

Enrique: Absolutely, guys. So you can see already on your screen. Thank you, Maddie. The question is, what generation are you? And basically their responses are based on your date of birth. So take a minute to respond to our poll question, please. We’ll give a couple of seconds to get most of our audience end. Thank you guys for voting. Chris, we can close the poll question. So as you can see basically 13% of our attendees are millennial, 38% are generation X and 50% are baby boomer.

Jamie: Interesting. A little heavy on the baby boomers compared to, I think, to the workforce at large but not too far away from the averages. So I like to know who’s here and the reason we ask this poll question is to reinforce that although our book is entitled When Millennials Take Over. This is not like a millennial issue. There’s never a time where actually one generation is completely in charge. It’s always share leadership, we’re all in this together. And I just want to expand a little bit on what Maddie was talking about before in terms of the millennials being the catalyst because what we’ve seen in our research and the writing we’ve been doing leading up to this point is that there is this perfect storm brewing in the sense that there are multiple factors that are all converging at the same time that just hasn’t happened, at least not in any of our lifetimes. There’s change coming particularly to leadership and management that we’re almost not prepared for because we haven’t seen change like this. And so there are three fronts, basically, three forces creating this perfect storm. The first one is social Internet which should not come as a surprise, I think, to anybody. We know this is a big deal. We know this is changing things

But as Maddie says, it’s not just changing marketing, it’s deeper than that. It’s a rather significant shift of power and influence away from central institutions, away from organizations and towards individuals. In the social Internet, the individuals can control their own entertainment, their own information. That shift in the balance of power is changing a lot of things both inside organizations and in society at large. And in the backdrop actually for the social Internet, the changes that have been happening in the last maybe five or ten years. Traditional management has also been in decline. Traditional management as we explained in the book really was invented about a hundred years ago, in the early 1900s and it has been in decline for some time. To be honest we know that by looking at comic strips like Dilbert or television shows like The Office, we mock a lot of traditional management because it’s not really working for us. We see this in our metrics around employee engagement for instance. The last gala poll has 70% or maybe 65% of global employees not engaged to work. That’s a pretty horrible number and it’s because traditional management can’t crack that nut.

So that’s actually a lot of what we wrote about in Humanize was saying, “Okay, management is on the decline. Social media is really getting our attention. How do we capitalize on this? How do we leverage the principles behind social media to really change management?” But what we’ve noticed in the last three years is that well, that’s still an opportunity. It was never going to be enough by itself to change traditional management. Traditional management still has a really strong grip on how we run our organization. But as Maddie said what’s different today, what led us to write this next book is the third front in the storm which is the millennial generation. I put this picture up here representing the millennials on purpose. It’s actually a selfie of someone who’s also holding up a picture of two millennials taking a selfie. So it’s a little mad up. But the millennial generation in the United States is the largest generation that we’ve ever seen. It’s bigger than the baby boomers and the oldest members of the millennials are now about 32 years old, turning 33 years old this year. So they’re moving into positions of management. I think the projections vary, but in the next maybe three to five years, the millennials will be the largest segment of the workforce, and they will all be under 40 and that hasn’t happened in about 50 years.

Okay. And so this is going to be the catalyst that pushes us over the edge. We’re arguing in changing the way we lead and manage organizations because the millennials view things in ways that is actually as consistent with some of the other changes that are going on. So in the book, we do take some time early on in chapter two to sort of explain these trends and the changes we see happening at the big picture but also just to talk about the millennial generation. There’s a lot of hype about generations. Some people are sort of sick to death of hearing about this topic. But we argue, it’s really critical to understand particularly where the millennials are coming from, not because they are going to provide all the answers. As I said that’s not how it works, but because they can sort of shine a light for us on what these changes are going to look like. So in the book, we talk about the four trends that have been shaping the millennials as they come of age, as they’ve been growing up. And this comes from generational research that I’ve been doing for a long time. The four trends, the first one is the social Internet. So again social media is a big factor here. We know that the millenials grew up with social media. They’re the first generation that has only known that world and that is really impacting how they’re behaving in the workforce. All these trends really have impacts in how millennial show up in the workforce.

So with social media, they learned that they can do everything themselves. If you want something, you can reach out to your social network and figure out either how to get it, how to make it, how to build it or you know how to trade for it. So they show up in the work place expecting to be able to do more and what they get of course in the traditional management is please do exactly as you’re told and wait your turn which can be really frustrating.

The second trend is abundance. The millennial generation grew up with significantly more abundance than previous generations. I know after this recession it may not feel that way all the time but you do have to remember like in the United States, the self-storage industry is $24 billion a year industry. This is a society that has so much stuff, we’re willing to spend $24 billion a year just to store it outside of our actually rather large homes on average. The millennials grew up with this. They grew up with resources at their fingertips. They grew up with the entire Internet at their fingertips.

When they show up in the workplace, the bars just raised for them. They expect more. They expect things to be able to be done. They expect to spend money on equipment or technology that’s needed because that’s always been there for them. So we call it sometimes entitlement for this generation but to be honest it’s just a natural reaction of what was happening around them as they grow up. The third factor is diversity. The millennial generation grew up with more diversity than previous generations. It was more prevalent, it was more visible in their lives and not just the race, ethnicity, gender, sexual identity, diversity issues. The millennials just grew up expecting difference to be a part of the equation. The millennials love mash up. They love to take one piece of music from one era and combine it with another one. Even software designers take a piece of software code designed for one product and use it in another context. That idea that you can take whatever you’re working with and it was designed to do X, it also has potential and opportunity to do Y and Z. That’s just normal for millennials and the rest of us did not grow up with that because we grew up with you use things the way you’re supposed to.

And then the fourth trend which gets a lot of attention when we talk about millennials is the elevated status of children. As the millennials were growing up, they were on equal footing with adults for the most part. They refer to them by their first names. The adults were in their lives working with them almost as peers a lot of the time. And they then show up in the workplace and the lines of authority and hierarchy are blurred from them. The millennials really have a problem stopping the Senior VP as he’s walking down the hall asking question. Even though everyone like the rest of us or the older generations in the workplace would sort of cringe and go, “Oh, we know you’re not supposed to do that. You have to talk to the scheduler. You can’t just do that. You can’t break those barriers, those lines and that just doesn’t make sense to them.” So I think it’s important to actually even for millennials to understand these trends. To understand what so they can see their own generation and their own biases. I’ve been researching and writing about this for ten years. I love this generational stuff and learning about it, but I will be honest, when I talk to managers, when I talk to executives in organizations, they’re not so excited about this because when they see millennials, they don’t see these big trends and the opportunities for maybe creating a workplace that works better for everybody. They basically see this.

Maddie: Yes. So we know all of this stuff about millennials as a generation. But what we don’t talk about so much or at least this is what Jamie and I think. We don’t talk about enough is really what happens when they come to work beyond the grumbling about the fact that they wear flip flops. So think about this. This is the first generation to not remember work before the Internet. So those of us who are older, remember where you were when you first got an email address or how only a couple of people in the office were allowed to have one? I personally remember that. Jamie and I are both Gen X. But millennials really have no experience of the workplace before the Internet. So to them, the social Internet is just how you do things, faster, more independently. You try things, if they don’t work, you move on. And collectively as well, you Google, you ask your network if you want to know something, you ask your peers, you involve people in other circles. You ask friends of friends of friends. That stuff is just normal for them. And of course we’re going to talk a lot more about this in a minute but I think that these kinds of ideas that are a lot more impactful and meaningful than the kids these days kinds of conversation.

And I would bet that you guys have seen some of this disconnect happening in your workplace. So we have another poll question, Enrique, to find out what you think or why you’re interested in this topic specifically.

Enrique: Great. Thank you very much, Maddie. So I’m going to read that out loud, guys. Please take a second to respond to this poll question. Why does it matter that the millennials are taking over? And the options are generational conflict in the workplace, not keeping up with the pace of change, struggle with engagement – customer and employee, all of the above, or none of the above.

Maddie: Enrique, can you read those one more time just in case people didn’t catch that.

Enrique: Absolutely. The options are generational conflict in the workplace, not keeping up with the pace of change, struggle with engagement both customer and employee, all of the above, or none of the above. Most of our audience has responded so I think we can close the poll. I’m going to read the results out loud. You can also see them on your screen. So basically 17% of our attendees think it’s generational conflict in the workplace, 3% think it’s not keeping up with the pace of change, 7% say struggle with engagement, 55% say all of the above, and 17% say none of the above.

Jamie: That’s interesting to me. We’ve been asking this question as we talk about this and I haven’t gotten so many all of the above answers in that one. And also a little bit over represent on that generational conflict piece. I just point out in my backgrounds in conflict resolution but this is something we need to master. We need to be able to handle this stuff and handle it quickly and easily if we’re going to create our organizations, that sort of can work in today’s environment. I think that’s really important. So we’re going to talk about actually some solutions how we get to answer these issues and I wanted to give you a little bit of sense of the research that we did to get to our conclusions. I mentioned the word we did on Humanizing, social media is changing leadership. When we look at the research for this book, we wanted to specifically dive into two different areas and the first was to look at millennials specifically again because we think they’re going to be the catalyst here. We did some online interviews with, I think, almost 200 millennials who are in the workplace. And remember, millennials now have been in the workplace for a while. The oldest as I said is turning 33, so these are not just sort of rookies in the workplace now.

Asking them about matters to them, what do they think works the best? What do they think is the ideal? What is their approach to leadership and management to see how it was different. And then the other piece of research was to look at organizations and this is to borrow word from our book title that have ridiculously strong cultures. We wanted to find in our case study research not just strong performing organizations or even organizations where people seemed pleased to be there. We wanted to find the ones that were truly exceptional, that were the real positive deviance and this is what we found in our case studies. The kind of places where people literally can’t imagine working somewhere else because it’s so right and it’s so good where they are. Or they remember what it was like working somewhere else and they’re never going back that way. That’s the kind of sentiment we heard in these organizations. So when we studies these organizations with truly strong cultures and then look at the millennials, four distinct capacities emerged, basically the overlap of those two circles and those are the four main chapters in our book.

It’s digital, clear, fluid, and fast. These are the principles, the capacities that we need in our organizations because the kinds of things that make organizational cultures that are truly exceptional and stronger than most people realize they could be. And they’re the kind of things that naturally makes sense to millennials. And given that the millennials are coming into their management and their sort of power stage in life at this time of great change, our argument is this is where organizations need to focus. So we’re going to go basically over all four. We’ll talk a little bit about the capacity, about why millennials care about it, and we’ll dig into a little bit. I’ll tell you about the case study that we have and that exemplifies that principle. So we’ll start with digital.

Maddie: Right. And the first one is digital. And this is very obvious based one everything we’ve been talking about related to the social Internet. So digital is partly about understanding and using digital technology. You obviously need to stay ahead in that curve. I’m sure nobody here would just skip that. But more importantly it’s about embracing a digital mindset. So the digital mindset is about designing things both internally and externally around the needs of the user or the employee. So for example, software has to work on every possible browser as well as mobile browsers. And that might be harder on the software maker but actually better in the long term because it means that more people can use the software successfully. So the digital mindset is about customization and personalization but not just for the high end but for actually the middle of your market. So what that means is figuring out ways that more customers can find value or more employees can be engaged in specific ways that matter to them. This is the two sides of that customization kind of digital mindset. And then it’s also about continued innovation and improvement. So we’re used to updates and solve on a weekly or monthly basis. Nothing stays static for long. Everything has a version. That’s the way of the world. So the digital mindset brings that into the workplace.

So why do millennials care? Well, again that’s going to be obvious based on what we’ve been talking about this whole time. But they really don’t understand why things are done in ways that ignore today’s digital reality. One of our interviewee said about his colleagues, “Why did they use emails to send messages?” So they’re not just generally skilled with digital tools but more importantly they understand how to match the tools to the right job which is obviously related to this idea of personalization and customization too. They also dump things that don’t work and find something else immediately. So think about it. When you try out a nice going app for the first time, how long do you give it if it doesn’t work as you need it to? I would say seconds or minutes before you go try something else. And then because they’re used to continuous improvement and continued learning with technology and all of the things that they use every day, they want that with their own personal development at work. They are constantly trying new things and they want to be able to do that when they get into the workplace. So let’s see what the digital mindset at work looks like in the real world.

Jamie: Again for each one of these capacities in the book, we highlight a specific case study that illustrates it, and I was actually very excited that for this digital mindset we were able to find a small non-profit, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, that exemplified it. Because I didn’t want this to be like you need to be digital. You have to be Google or you have to be Zappos or you have to be Apple or something like that. It’s not about that. This is a small non-profit with about 20 staff, but they still have six of their full time staff working full time on technology projects. That’s more than a third of their budget. In an industry that spends usually about 4% on technology, they give their employees a brand new laptops and brand new tablets every two years and they let them choose. But more than just using of the digital technology, what I love about the Surgery of the Hand folks is that their culture, they actually redesigned their organizational work space around the needs of their employee. So all the desks are out together in one room. Now they also have other places people can go for quiet time or to have meetings. They all have headsets and can take phone calls in their laptops. Several people work on the roof which has Wi-Fi throughout the year.

And the CEO has a desk out on a sort of shop floor along with everybody else. Now that’s not normal and that’s maybe harder on the CEO but they do that intentionally because it gives everyone access to the CEO and that helps them do their job better. They were rigorous in designing their organization around the needs of the employees. Whatever works for the employees, that’s what they’re going to do even if it’s harder on the organization. Their job descriptions change every year based on the specific career paths of the individual employees. Harder in the organization but it makes it easier and better for the employees. And they have results to show for it. They’re a very small association in the broader context of the surgery field but they’re the ones their members go to even though some of the other organizations are bigger and more prestigious. They get that engagement, that customer engagement by creating a workplace that is that customized around the needs of the employees. So that’s digital.

Maddie: As you think about it, the digital mindset for millennials is really the baseline of what the workplace should have. But you have the piece in place to customize and personalize your work experience as well as build in some of that personal development that I mentioned earlier, then you need the data to really makes that possible. So the second key classes that came out of our research is clear. Clear is about transparency and making things visible, information sharing and appropriate ways and by default in order to increase both the quality and quantity of good decisions that are made inside the organization. So in today’s environment, it’s impossible to predict ahead of time who needs to know something. So if you can make more data and information visible then the right people have what they need to make those good decisions. And millennials care about clear because as we know they’ve grown up with information, meaning Google at their fingertips. So in other ways I don’t know for them actually means I don’t know yet. I haven’t searched yet. I haven’t contacted my friends and network. I haven’t tried anything to find the answer. So they don’t understand why organizations are stingy with information, why decisions are made behind closed doors.

They see a lot more value in sharing information as lively as possible in order to be able to make those kinds of decisions and create the possibility for better informed action and choices. Now you may be thinking young people of every generation feels frustration at the bottom of the hierarchy and that is true. That applies to every generation. But we feel like this is different because millennials see missed opportunities if you don’t make things visible.

Jamie: So the case study that we have for the clear chapter is a software company called Menlo Innovations. They’re in Ann Arbor, Michigan. And they’re about 50 people, and they embrace this idea of clarity, the idea of making everything visible at every level of their organization. So they write software code and the process they use puts two people, two software designers working together on one computer. So they share a mouse and a keyboard as they’re writing software code. And so literally talking about making something visible, as I’m typing in the first draft of the code, my partner is watching me type it and watching the code as it goes on the screen and actually giving feedback. I don’t even have time to go create this perfect software code of by myself and then share the finished product. Everything is made visible. And they find by the way the number of errors in the software code goes down dramatically when they insert that visibility. In other words they make better decisions in writing the code when things are made visible. And it goes beyond that. They actually have their project management system makes everything is about clarity.

I assume there are software folks, I assume they had some fancy cloud-based software for managing their projects. It turns out they put everything up on the wall using paper, tape and colored sticky dots and yarn. So every pair of software designers has cards that are proportioned to the number of hours they think they are going to spend on it and that gets placed all on the wall with the different day from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. And as you progress on your tasks you put different colored dots on it. And so what that enables since they all work together in one room, everyone in that room can glance at this wall and knows exactly where they are and where everyone else on every project is. And so they can say, “Look, I’m ahead of my schedule because when I know I’ve been working on. That pair across the table, they’re behind. I’m just going to go help them because I can. I have time to do that.” Okay. So the employees get to decide when to help each other and they make smarter decisions and they do all that without managers telling them what to do. But in order to have those kinds of decisions, that real time more efficient and more effective and actually more engaging and more empowering for the employees to get those kinds of decisions, you have to have this visibility.

If it’s not visible to everyone that system doesn’t work. And they even go so far, I love this because this sort of freaks people out, they actually will bring their customers in on a weekly basis to see the progress that’s been made and then to work with the designers in the project planning process for the next week. The clients are involved in saying what you’re going to work on on this project which some people say, “Oh, that would be micromanaging and that would be out of control.” But what happens is when the client actually sees what’s going on, that information helps the client make a better decision about where we should put our resources and how we should do this. And honestly if they say, “You know what, I think you should be doing 60 hours of work next week,” and they only have 40 budgeted, it’s not going to fly. They’ll actually make the poll work out and say, “What do you want to put in? We’ll pay for it.” And to be honest, this Menlo Innovations is not the cheapest software designer on the block. They charge more and the clients are happy to pay for it because they’re also so good. And one of the key factors is that that clarity, that visibility is baked in at every level of the organization. So that’s clear.

Maddie: So imagine you’re a millennial in your 30’s, you’re in a management position and you have the opportunity to make sure that information is lively disseminated or is made visible like Menlo. So you could put in a really good Internet system and have all the files in the right place where everybody can access them. But another way you might do that is to actually go a step further and get rid of bureaucracy and red tape which is what often creates that silos that information has hidden behind. So you’d want your company to be fluid. So fluid is about making our hierarchies more flexible and dynamic. Where people at every level do both the thinking and the acting. It’s not about getting rid of hierarchy completely. You might have heard of a Gary Hammel book or article called Fire All The Managers or something like that. That’s not actually what we’re talking about. It’s actually about the fluidity and the flexibility of the hierarchy. And when you learn how to manage authority that way so it can shift and march according your needs, you actually end up accomplishing a lot more. So millennials care about fluid because they grew up with blurred lines around authority and hierarchy in the first place.

So their parents are at their level, a very active part of their lives. They are spoken to as equals even as adults, long before they’re actually adults. They don’t understand the benefit of not having direct communication with elders. Now again, all young people entering the workforce have expressed frustration with hierarchy but this generation, they simply want a team-based shifting hierarchy based on who has the most experience in something as opposed to age or tenure. Here’s a couple of things we heard in our interviews. “I found personally that if I want to see something happen or for us to move forward in an area, I can’t always wait for or rely on a more senior staff person to come up with the idea. So sometimes I have to step out and call a meeting together to get the ball rolling and get people talking.” Another one, “You’ll become a leader when you have the most experience or knowledge, not necessarily the tenure or age.” So here’s a great example of a company that embraces this concept.

Jamie: So our case study for fluid is a health care company called Quality Living, Incorporated. They are in Omaha, Nebraska. They provide rehabilitation services to people with brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. As you can imagine this is really, really hard work. They’re actually rebuilding shattered lives for people and this is very difficult and what was most interesting to me about this organization and how strong their culture was is that they have a very fluid hierarchy but they have a very clear hierarchy. They have a president, they have vice president, they have a senior management team, they have director levels, down to people who like mop the floors. I mean they’ve got a clear hierarchy but what happens in this organization is decisions get made based on understanding who knows not just the patients’ needs medically but who knows what those patients’ need in terms of their hopes, their dreams, their aspirations or what really matters or has meaning in their lives. Because they know what they’re doing is rebuilding shattered lives, not just the physical therapy or the speech therapy. It has to matter to them in their course as human being. And so there was a meeting that happened when I was doing interviews there.

One of the employees told me about this story where they were discussing some care issues in a particular block of their residential facility and there were two new interns, two new psychology interns in the meeting. At the end of the meeting one of the staff people said, “Hey, did you guys know that the CEO was in this meeting?” And of course they don’t have uniforms, they don’t have name tags, and these people were new so they didn’t know. They’re like, “No, I did not know.” And they said, “Which one of these people do you think was in the meeting was the CEO.” And they both guessed wrong. Because in this particular meeting they were talking about the needs of patients and the person who have the expertise was the person who lived in that unit and did the cooking and cleaning and caring for those people. So in that context, that person has the authority, not the CEO. And in most organizations, if the CEO walks in the room you know it. They get deference, you sort of let them speak, you listen to what they have to say and in that case that CEO knows that she does not have what is needed. The information, the expertise, the knowledge that’s needed to make the right decision so she’s just laid back and let the lower level “employee” manage that meeting.

That’s what it means to be fluid in your hierarchy. But what’s interesting about this organization and if you want to apply this in your organization, that means you have to know what drive your success. You have to know what really matters. It took them a long time to really get clear on what’s going to drive their success by matching the hopes and dreams of those patients with the care they’re getting. And so that kind of clarity actually comes first. You can’t just order a fluid hierarchy. You have to get some clarity in what drives the success of the enterprise and build that fluidity around that and then stand by and not let people sort of take back the control just because they could. So in some instances that speech therapist that has expertise and they’re in charge, in some instances it’s the person who does the cooking and cleaning. But at least they know why it’s fluid like that. So that’s fluid.

Maddie: Okay. Obviously there’s an order to the way that these key capacities emerge. So for us all these have digital clear and fluid leads to fast. So everyone wants to be fast. Every company wants to be ahead of the curve which leads us to focus on productivity and efficiency. That’s a pretty good start but that’s not actually what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about the kind of speed where you can make huge loops ahead of your competition. And to do that you need to give up control, the C word. And to do that you need to figure out how trust factors into your organization’s success. Jamie’s going to talk a lot more about that in our case study for this capacity. But here again, millennials have grown up in an environment where new tools and technologies evolve quickly. There’s a new phone and iPad every year. That means they naturally let go easily while the rest of us hold on to things the way we’ve always done it. Millennials really just don’t understand why other generations are solely distant to change, why we keep using crappy outdated systems even though everybody hates them. They also understand the value of trust. The strong ties and weak ties that the Internet can provide. For example, build trust which, as Jamie said, is what enabled these. Jamie, you want to talk about Happy State Bank?

Jamie: Yeah. So just like I was really thrilled that for the digital chapter we could talk about a small non-profit to break some stereotypes. I was also happy that . . . no pun intended, that for the fast chapter, we’re talking about an organization that has that leap ahead kind of speed. We are able to choose a bank because I think everyone thinks of banking as, okay, heavily-regulated industry. There’s no flexibility. How could you be an example of a group that’s really fast? But this bank, which is a regional bank in Texas, has achieved an amazing amount of speed. Some of it is on some real basic metrics like the quickness with which they can process loan applications. They beat all of their competitors in their loan application process. What interested me was the way they did it. Because in general, maybe I don’t want a bank to do a quick loan application, like wasn’t that the part of the problem with this big economic mess we’re in is that giving bad loans. They don’t give bad loans. Very, very small percentage of their loans are overdue at any given moment. They are smart about their loans but they can still do it quickly. And the way they do is by trusting in the relationships that their employees make both with each other and with their customers.

It’s again counter-intuitive for thinking of a bank sort of resting their success on relationship building but that’s what they do. They give their employees the time to get to know each other better and they give their employees the time and the access in their systems to get to know their customers. They do not have a call center. If you are a Happy State Bank customer they want you to call someone in the branch. They want you to call someone that you will see when you come into the branch so that you can reinforce and build the relationship. And what they get out of these relationships which sounds sort of inefficient if I was spending all this time. One of the employees told me, “Hey, if someone calls up and they’re having trouble logging on to the online banking system, we will drive 40 miles to their home and help them get online at their home, at their computer.” And maybe help set up their router. Okay, and that seems inefficient but what happens is they start to know their customers really, really well. So when they actually start that loan application process, the people that they’re working with know how to ask the right questions, know to say, “Hey, you might want to mention this part of your business because I think that’s going to matter.” Or, “Hey, you didn’t include this piece of data that I know you have because we talked about it last week but we’re going to need that for the application.”

And so the entire process moves faster as opposed to their competitors send the application off to New York and then wait two weeks for it to come back and we need this more information or you forgot this piece. They enabled that kind of speed but what it requires similarly to the fluid piece is understanding your culture. Understanding what really drives your success as an organization knowing that those relationships are going to be that key, that piece of you that’s going to be the trust in the relationships is going to allow you to give up enough control to get that kind of speed. And that’s actually where all of this gets a little more difficult because you can’t fully apply all of these concepts unless you can really understand in a clear way what your culture is and how it’s going to be. You need some fertile ground to plant these seeds if you want to be fast and digital and clear and fluid and that means you got to know what you’re planting and that means understanding your culture. So we’re ready for the next poll. So this is again getting at culture piece, as I just mentioned.

Enrique: Okay. So let’s take a second to respond to this poll question. The question is how strong is your culture and the options are: We’re clear about our culture, and it’s actively maintained; our culture is strong, but we’re so busy it’s not top of mind; meh – company culture doesn’t factor into our thinking; we put our values on the wall, but they don’t impact behavior; or our culture needs a lot of work. We’re going to give a couple of seconds to have responses for most of our attendees.

Jamie: Be honest on this one, by the way, if it really needs a lot of work, let’s hear it. No one knows who is answering.

Enrique: I think we can close the poll, and I’m going to read the results out loud. Basically 33% of our attendees were clear about our culture and actively maintain it, 24% say our culture is strong but we’re so busy and it’s not top of mind, 15% say we put our values on the wall but they don’t impact behavior and 27% say our culture needs a lot of work. And no one said company culture doesn’t factor into our thinking which I think is a very good step forward.

Jamie: Yeah. That is a good sign. We reworded the question on this to get at that one to see if the people didn’t have it on their radar and that’s good. I’m glad the culture is in the radar. I’m glad actually more than half were sort of on the top end of this that there’s clarity. As I said if you want to build that kind of culture like this case study organizations that have that kind of strength, you at least kind of know what you’re working with. So that’s a good sign. Maddie, anything to add on this or we just go right to questions?

Maddie: Yeah. Now we’re perfect timing for some questions.

Enrique: Okay. Great, guys. So Zintro members, feel free to contact Jamie and Maddie directly with the information provided or by going through the Zintro profile. We’ll keep the webinar session open for as long as we need to answer questions so feel free to use the question section of your go to webinar button to ask Jamie any questions or Maddie. So we have a question from Mary Anne. She says, “I work in a highly regulated industry where guidelines and government regulations are critical. What is your suggestion for training and educating techniques to engage millennials regarding the importance of regulatory compliance?”

Jamie: I think, again, the example that we gave from the banking industry, the Happy State Bank is not bending any rules on the compliance, they are meeting them. And I think in any organization, this is the point I made about understanding what drives success being really clear on that, like not breaking their regulatory guidelines is a really clear factor on what drive success. And so you need to create a culture that says, “This is what these are, and this is why they’re so important.” I think if you want to engage millennials in that context, this is the generation that grew up playing video games where basically bending the rules is how you win. I still think even in the regulated environment, there’s going to be some pockets, some areas where you can give people opportunities to, say, experiment, try new things as long as you make those boundaries really clear. Like create a container within which they can try new things, experiment and do that, and say, “Okay. In this little sand box, in this little area, this is where we try new things.” I think if you have that opportunity and can create those opportunities, obviously creating those boundaries in ways that don’t mess up your regulatory guidelines. I think you’ll still be able to tap into that feeling for the millennials that says, “Okay, I’m able to express myself. I’m able to be creative.” I think that’s really important. Maddie, anything to add?

Maddie: Yeah. I actually have a slightly different answer to that question just to kind of piggy back on that. But I’m thinking that one of the things from my research that millennials really want is they want to know why, why these regulations are in place? Why they matter? Why is it important to be compliant in various ways? And they don’t like the rules that are handed down without any context or information or background. So I think another side of this coin is providing a lot more of that context and real world stories as to why these things are important. They are all there for a reason but without that context they can just seem like owner is rules.

Enrique: Thank you very much, Maddie. We have several questions so let’s move forward to the next question by Victor. A very interesting question by the way. Should we, baby boomers, behave like chameleons and pretend that we fully adhere to the millennials’ culture?

Jamie: Yeah. The sure answer on that is no. I mean one of the principles we wrote about actually in Humanize a few years ago is authenticity. And actually, I think the millennials are expecting more authenticity and so if they see people sort of trying to be someone that they’re not, that is as frustrating as some of these bureaucratic things they have to go through and using technology that doesn’t work. I think the principles that we’re talking about around digital and clear and fluid and fast are things that every generation needs to embrace to be successful today. That doesn’t mean they all have to do it in exactly the same way and people should be true. They are both as individuals, let alone as sort of representatives of a generation. If you have to force people to fit in a box, the whole thing is going to fall apart.

Enrique: Great. Thank you very much. So let’s move on to the next question by Eric. Does your experience or your research say anything about how non-profit membership organizations are impacted by millennials members or managers?

Maddie: That’s a great question. Actually the book itself beyond the discussion around the Surgery of the Hand which is a non-profit membership organization. Our work actually is very deeply embedded in associations of the non-profit so that kind of information we could talk for hours about. And we would definitely be happy to do that offline. We have a lot of knowledge around associations for non-profit specifically and these kinds of topic.

Jamie: And I’ll say the short answer for me though is around the expectation of customization. And where that plays out a lot of the work that Maddie and I have been doing recently with membership organizations has been around the issue of engagement. And for membership organizations that’s member engagement. How do we engage our members in a way that that makes them more sticky, that makes them buy more or participate more or volunteer more. And invariably that conversation comes down to the members get to define what engagement means and that’s real frustrating for membership organizations because they don’t want it like that. They want to be able to define it. They want to say here’s how you participate with us and then basically email them until they do it. They have to flip that model in the sort of digital mindset kind of way where you can create different ways. The opportunities where different people to engage in different ways. That’s where the employee level which we see in all companies, not just membership organizations. On the membership side, it’s about creating much more flexible and dynamic systems of engagement that actually let people or members engage with each other in a way that you can control. That scares people, but to us, that’s where the future is.

Maddie: Enrique, do you have another question?

Enrique: Let’s move. Another question by Gaynor. Did you research . . . to who millennials view as role models?

Jamie: It’s not a particular question that we dug into in our research so we didn’t get data on that. I’m trying to think what I’ve come across in my broader generational research on that.

Maddie: We didn’t ask the question directly but I think the theme definitely came up around the idea that millennials value learning from their older colleagues and that institutional knowledge and that history. There are things that are very important to maintain which is actually why the book is not about millennials at all really, it’s about how all generations can work together in better ways. But I think one piece of that is what we’ve already touched about around information sharing and more transparency. I think millennials are very much interested in hearing and valuing information and knowledge from their peers, from their older peers.

Jamie: And I think learning is the key there. I do remember one of the quotes from our interviews from a millennial. She said she was concerned that when older generations were not valuing learning as much. She said, “If there’s one thing I can keep my whole life, I want to make learning a priority.” And so it’s like to me the idea of role model, it’s not about a person or even a generation. The role model is someone who’s learning continuously. That’s the expectation, that got them where they are and they don’t want to lose that.

Enrique: Thank you very much. We have another question by Jennifer. Jennifer asks, “What about the shift of the millennials taking over the client population? Is including millennials in your staff the only way to facilitate the transition?”

Maddie: An interesting question.

Jamie: Yeah. I mean I think we have to design organizations that work for millennials not because the millennials are more important or better. But because that perspective is going to galvanize us as a society and that includes the customers, that includes the clients, that includes who you’re designing for. I mean like we said with the software industry, they’re designing it for people, a lot actually in their case for millennials who expect the continuous improvement, who expect for it to be customizable. I mean what’s the first thing you do with any product now. You go to the settings and you make it for you. And so I think if you’re not getting the millennial perspective on the customer side you’re also missing out. Maddie?

Maddie: It’s about the sustainability of your business really. And of course hiring millennials is part of that, but that seems to me as sort of tactic. Hiring millennials for each millennial customers is a sort of surface-level tactic whereas those kinds of deeper changes that we’re talking about is also that but just has been in a more kind of meaningful framework that is not just about the age of the people in your workplace or that you’re trying to attract. Does that make sense? I don’t know.

Jamie: Yes.

Enrique: Thank you very much, guys. We have another question by Mary. Do you work with corporations that are helping millennials better understand gen X or boomers?


Jamie: Yeah. We’ve given up on that. Gen X is really like whatever you don’t understand is it’s fine. I wrote an e-book on generations back in 2007 so this has been as a topic of generation has been important to me for a long time. And one of the key lessons around any conversation you have around generations is a whole point is for every generation to understand the other generations because when you do that you have sharper and more effective conversations and problem solving. So if you’re a millennial and you don’t care about the other generations, that’s just as bad as a boomer who doesn’t think we have to adjust to the younger generations coming up. It goes back to that learning piece. If you want to learn you have to learn about these other generations. I’ve done manager training on generational differences and we talk actually about four generations that are in the workplace even though the silent generation is fairly small. Their legacy is still there so we talked about all four generations, what shape them, and why that matters. And again it never gives you the answer. It’s not like you’re like, “Oh, you’re a generation X, so you think this.” Not necessarily but when I have that generational knowledge of all these generations, it helps me ask better questions, build stronger relationships which then lead to a better problem solving. I mean that’s my advice for every generation. If you’re not learning about all the generations in the workforce you’re going to be falling behind.

Enrique: Great. Thank you very much, Jamie. We are running out of time but we’re going to go for one last question. It’s a comment/question from Victor. I guess it is like learning a foreign language. We need to take classes of the millennial psychology since they are becoming the ruling class, and here’s the question. Can you make a generalization that when a millennial becomes a manager or joins the C-suite, he or she would prefer to be surrounded with and or higher, other millennials only or predominantly millennials?

Jamie: I haven’t seen that in the research. I mean I think the millennial generation is known for actually kind of similarly to the baby boomer generation. It has a group focus, it has a team focus and doing things collectively. It comes from different reasons, the boomers and the millennial, but they share that sort of collective, “We’re going to do this together” attitude and I haven’t seen anything that says, and really you got to be a millennial or you don’t get it. They’ll work with anyone that gets it. They can get the principles. It’s been my experience anyway. Maddie?

Maddie: Yeah. I was just going to add, I would say definitely not because of their interest in diversity and different voices. I think it makes actually much more sense that they would want lots of different people on their team, which doesn’t mean that they don’t more of people their own age. I mean we all know more people our own age probably than others. But in the work place, I think probably no, that they’d want more diversity.

Enrique: Great. Thank you very much, Maddie. So Jamie and Maddie, on behalf of Zintro and our over 170,000 members, we want to thank you so much for sharing your insights. Guys, feel free to reach out to them at any point. Their contact information is on the screen. We will be sharing a recording of this presentation in the following week so look for the email someday next week. So thank you very much everyone. This closes today’s presentation. Have a great day.