Top

Empower Innovation with Millennials

Deloitte (an alma mater of mine) recently published their annual survey results on Millennials and innovation. The results are always enlightening and highlight the importance of moving to a Conscious Capitalism model of business. Conscious Capitalism takes a broader view of business, focusing more on purpose, engagement, and community all which will enhance innovation and profits. With the right leadership, this model will bridge any gaps between generations.

Empower Innovation with Millennials: Essential!

In the survey, innovation is viewed as a key purpose for business as well as a key driver for growth. Innovation and profit go hand-in-hand for Millennials, as they would for most growth-oriented leaders from other generations. A good match between generations, it would seem. Yet Millennials only see about a quarter of current leaders embracing creativity no matter the age of the person. A leadership gap appears.

Innovative Millennials

The Millennial Survey 2014 by Deloitte.

The statistics from the “Millennial Survey 2014 by Deloitte are highlighted below.

  • Innovation is considered to be one of the top three ‘purposes’ of business and just as important as profit
  • 78% of Millennials believe that innovation is essential for business growth and 87% believe the success of a business should be measured by more than just financial performance
  • Only 26% believe that their own organization’s leadership encourages idea generation and sharing regardless of seniority

What Is the Purpose of Business? Millennials Represent Solid a Balance of Principles.

Millennials are often described incorrectly as being too self-centered or idealistic. However, when reviewing what the purpose of business is, there is a solid mix of realism and idealism and society as well as individuals. According to Millennials in the survey, the purpose of business is to:

  • 36%: Improve society
  • 35%: Generate profit
  • 33%: Drive innovation
  • 29%: Produce goods and services
  • 27%: Enhance livelihoods

What Should Organizations and Leaders Do Now?

Building an organizational culture to encourage and sustain innovation is an essential leadership mission. The good news is there is a foundation in place from which to build. According to the Deloitte survey, where Millennials saw the smallest gaps between what is needed and what is evident in organizations includes:

  • A lack of hierarchy
  • Commitment to continual development/improvement products and services
  • Commitment to continual development/improvement internal processes
  • Commitment to sustainable business

Flatness of organization along with a solid focus on improving products, services, and processes will help build a sustainable business model. Organizations cannot afford to stop here.

From this foundation, much work needs to be done. The list is long in which Millennials experience the biggest difference between what is required and what is delivered today. To encourage an innovative culture and business, the following gaps need to be closed.

  • Encourage and reward idea generation and creativity
  • Provide employees with ‘free’ time that they can dedicate to learning
  • Leadership encourages idea sharing regardless of seniority
  • Promote openness and the freedom to challenge
  • Commitment to successfully advancing innovative ideas
  • Strong and inspirational leadership
Innovation Delivery Gap

The Millennial Survey 2014 – Innovation Delivery Gap

As we read through this list of what is required to foster innovation, the gaps are a wake-up call for leaders. At this moment, leaders are not building organizations to embody these principles and concepts. What will likely happen is an exodus of key Millennial leaders to start their own innovative ventures.

In a recent post by Ted Coiné entitled “The Flat Revolution: What Makes Today So Different From 1958,” people leave companies to start their own companies because of being frustrated, being unheard, and being ignored. Our social world makes it easier to expose these sterile companies as well as gather like-minded individuals to form more innovative and conscious organizations. The result is the brightest will stay away, either going to companies that exhibit the right traits or starting their own company with these principles in mind.

The odd element to this all is the concepts above are what most generations would want in an organizational culture. No matter if Millennial or Boomer, many individuals would leave organizations that block innovation, don’t listen, and create barriers to creativity and eventual new sources of profit, along with discouraging ways to improve our communities.

The time is now for leaders to embrace a higher purpose for their organizations and encourage collaboration between generations to innovate for better products, services, profits, and a betterment of society.

For Millennial leaders, make the case for change within. I know this can be tough but you owe it to yourself and the organization to try. Identify the existing barriers to innovation and change and their burdening costs. Define the options to remove the barriers and better enable innovation. Engage in a give-and-take conversation with your ideas. Listen. Speak your ideas. Listen. Collaborate.

The goal is to drive change from within if at all possible. If unsuccessful, the lessons learned will be invaluable as you move your career forward.

For leaders from other generations, get out of your command-and-control comfort zone and engage across the ages to get the best ideas and creativity. Your business survival requires it. Your team members are eager for it. Listen to the ideas openly. Discuss the ideas with a mindset of change and growth. Collaborate.

The goal is to enhance your business productivity, profit, and purpose. Remember these 3Ps and keep your personal ego in check. As young leaders, you likely faced a similar situation at some point in your career so remember and be open to change.

Together, we can close the leadership gap and innovate in a conscious and higher purpose way to continue to build a sustainable business that thrives through the ages.

Are you ready?

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz

Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and is a leadership populist, writing to empower Millennial leaders. When we share experiences rather than focus on differences, we realize a thin difference between two generations and a vast opportunity exists to create a big leadership story.
Jon Mertz

, , , ,

  • Let’s Grow Leaders

    What a rich and insightful post. i worry that so many large, successful corporations are slow to understand this. We need to inspire the conversation to encourage true innovation and tap into these positive values.

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Agree completely, Karin. We need to inspire the conversation and keep businesses centered in innovation that makes a difference, no matter the age of the person it is coming from. In fact, leaders need to reach across the generations to empower these conversations and involvement. Thanks! Jon

  • http://www.LaRaeQuy.com/ LaRae Quy

    Jon, what an eye opening post! I loved it and I hope that every organization makes the effort to understand what an amazing reservoir of talent they have to tap into!

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Yes, the wake-up call is sounded; now we all need to act and engage! Thanks! Jon

  • Christy Johnson

    While mentoring female engineering graduate students for roughly two decades, I noticed this shift of priorities both in my proteges and myself as well. I’m glad these data are getting measured and becoming part of the “Where are we headed?” conversation. Much needed and timely!

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Thanks, Christy, for your mentoring efforts! A rewarding experience! You highlight a key value in have conversations between generations — we both begin to adjust and enhance our viewpoints. This is essential for us to lead in new ways. Thanks again! Jon

  • Alli Polin

    Eye opening. After reading, a few things are sticking with me. 1) You’re right – where the survey uncovered the biggest gaps, those are things that should be important to every generation. Inspirational leadership, freedom to challenge, encouraging idea sharing… Yes, please! 2) Thank you for encouraging people to create change where they are instead of making a change. There are many people that suggest running for the hills but it’s those people that stay, change and influence the culture that make it stronger for future generations.

    Thanks for sharing this study, Jon!

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Thank you, Alli, for your comments. I believe everyone owes it to themselves and the organization to try to change from within. Whether successful or not, we will know we tried and we will learn a ton in the process, making us stronger leaders going forward. Thanks! Jon

  • Joy Guthrie

    Excellent post Jon filled with great details. May the message be heard by all who need to hear it!

    • http://www.thindifference.com/ Jon M

      Thanks, Joy. Yes, leaders need to hear the call and engage! Jon

  • Pingback: Lead Ahead: Week of February 10, 2014 | Authentic Leadership Dallas