February 25, 2013 - FILED UNDER Agile Business

Generation Y Not: Challenging Outdated Innovation

There are questions surrounding the validity of today’s innovation. Is it slowing to a halt? Maybe everything that can be done already has been, and we’ll see no major seismic shifts in invention or development as the future unfolds. Unfortunately, that might be true in the short term. As the internet of things flourishes — a world in which our inanimate objects communicate with each other, rather than us — it’s unlikely that we’ll witness breakthrough technologies in the next decade.

Unless somebody finally invents teleportation, of course.

Changing the Frame, Not the Core

According to a recent worldwide survey, most Millenials (people born in early ‘80s to the early 2000s) believe innovation is integral to business growth, yet “only 26 percent believe executives are fostering a culture of change.” Oddly enough, it’s damn near impossible to find a CEO who doesn’t claim that nurturing creative thinking is a top priority. Why the disconnect?

Generation Y grew up watching technology explode in a totally unprecedented way; while their childhoods centered around VHS tapes and clunky camcorders, their adolescence saw CDs give way to thick iPods and flip phones, ushering in a new era of civilian gadgets. Inspired by this rapid invention of merchandised products, many Millenials saw a golden opportunity: technological blueprints that they could improve upon through their unique perspective — that of the youthful consumer.

But Millenial enthusiasm has so far not been enough for them to gain solid, influential footing in the tech industry, startup wildfires aside. They continue to struggle with old-hat business approaches upheld by investors and corporate authorities, who are often only fond of embracing disruptive techniques in theory.

For Gen Y-ers getting their feet wet, balance is essential. Twenty-six-year-old Japman Bajaj, co-founder of Soshal Group, says “Are we doing things differently? Yes. But at the core…every business is taking the same philosophical approach. Here’s a problem, this is how we solve it.”

Innovation Coup d’Etat: Pioneering the Next Chapter

Says Grant Frear of Deloitte, “A generational shift is taking place in business as baby boomers, many of whom may have been wedded to the ‘old way’ of doing business, begin to step down from their leadership roles to retire.”

Without discounting the prowess of Gen X, a group whose ingenuity is almost wholly responsible for the foundation of modern utilities, it’s safe to say that traditional methods of commerce are quickly giving way to capitalizing on the convenience already present in today’s technologies. Things like examining market feedback to determine unvoiced needs, and answering them with practical inventions, are becoming a less functional way of galvanizing innovation. In a way, techniques of the industrial revolution, which focused on mechanization for greater ease of use, are once again relevant in principle, if not application. In other words, no one’s going to reinvent the iPhone, but they can try to make it better.

As Millenials reach for the glass ceiling, it’s inevitable that they’ll encounter pushback from established industry experts who are either unwilling or find it unnecessary to revamp deep-rooted business tactics. But as much as it’s important that Gen Y-ers accept these hurdles, it’s equally as imperative that the powers-that-be recognize that Millenials are the answer to the innovation plateau — and, we aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

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