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Addressing the Millennial Generation’s Need for Speed

Editor’s Note: This is part four of a special 4-part series related to Jamie’s book, When Millennials Take Over. 

Imagine that you recently started a company with a niche product, and it is now selling pretty well with consumers, via a large distribution partner. Then imagine that the distribution partner sets a meeting with you three days from now to talk about the new product ideas you have in the pipeline. There’s just one problem:

You don’t have a pipeline.

You’ve been so focused on your current product, you hadn’t gotten to the pipeline yet. Do you postpone the meeting and ask for more time to develop ideas?

For our new book, When Millennials Take Over, we found a company that faced that exact scenario, but instead of postponing, they went into “full throttle” R&D and managed to put together an impressive lineup of spin-off products in just three days. The distribution partner was impressed, prompting him to ask, “Why didn’t you show me these ideas earlier?” It must have taken a lot of courage to explain that those ideas didn’t exist four days earlier.

That is an example of the kind of speed that organizations need in today’s environment. This goes beyond mere efficiency or productivity increases. Everyone does that. This is the ability to be truly agile and leap ahead of the competition when needed.

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And at the heart of capturing this kind of speed is something that scares most managers: giving up control.

Traditional management simply won’t do that, and they have all sorts of justifications for clinging to control. But smart companies are learning to replace that control with something stronger: trust. We also studied a bank that achieves exceptional speed, despite existing in a heavily regulated industry. They replaced that traditional need for control with trust in the strong internal and external relationships their people develop in order to achieve that speed. This doesn’t mean taking risky shortcuts around rules–it means their loan officers know to ask the right questions or provide key pieces of information in the loan process. Instead of waiting three weeks for the memo to come back from New York with a request for more data, they already have the loan approved (or rejected) in much less time. The time they’ve taken to invest in stronger, deeper relationships actually enables this kind of speed. And they made that a cultural priority, hiring people for their ability and interest in working in a relationship-centered business.

And remember, while many of us feel this kind of speed is somehow “unnatural,” the Millennial generation grew up expecting it. And in a few years, they will be the largest generation in the workforce and moving into positions of greater authority. Fast is one of four capacities that Maddie and I uncovered in the research for our book, and the previous three posts on digital, clear, and fluid cover the rest. These capacities were present in the organizations we studied that had exceptionally strong cultures, and they are precisely the capacities that make sense to the Millennial generation. Whatever you think about Millennials, they are hitting the scene at a time of a tectonic shift in management. You can shake your fists at how entitled and coddled they are, or you can see them as “secret decoder rings” that give us a glimpse of what the future of management just might look like. But either way, you’re running out of time to decide. Change is coming.




Interested in reading more? Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant have released their new book,When Millennials Take Over: Preparing For The Ridiculously Optimistic Future Of Business TODAY! Click HERE to order.






Be sure to check out the rest of the posts in this series:

Applying the Digital Mindset to Management

The Power of Making Things Visible

Making Hierarchies More Fluid


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Jamie Notter

Jamie Notter is a founding partner at Culture That Works, where he helps leaders create remarkable cultures, attract the best employees and most loyal customers, and thrive in the digital age. An accomplished speaker and author, he has written several books, including Humanize and the 2015 release, When Millennials Take Over: Preparing for the Ridiculously Optimistic Future of Business.

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