Jennifer Vessels

Jennifer Vessels, founder of Silicon Valley based Next Step, leader of Executive Growth Alliance and speaker.

Empowering Digital Success: Shouldn’t be left to the young to deal with

Gjesteskribent

Gjesteskribent

Publisert 9. mai 2019

Learning, relevance and contribution is not based on age but on motivation, training and opportunities to remain active.

By Jennifer Vessels, CEO Next Step, leader of Executive Growth Alliance and Elin Hauge, AI Champion Crayon. 

To address the challenges of digitalization and global competition, many business leaders are turning to young ‘digital natives’ as the ultimate solution.

However, hiring recent graduates, with the latest coding and data science skills to address the need for digitalization may not be the perfect path to future success.

In fact, it can create an interesting dichotomy – the World Economic Forum and others cite the future competence requirements for business success as empathy, critical strategic thinking, complex problem solving, creativity and leadership – not the latest technical skills.

While young people are often more likely to come up with innovative new ideas and concepts, they lack in my opinion the empathy, negotiation and people skills, as well as context needed for effective implementation of solutions. Expecting younger generation workers to singlehandedly take on digitalization projects can be unfair to the worker, demotivating to their more experienced colleagues and damaging to the business.

At Google and Cisco, multi-generational teams are consistently seen as the highest producers.

 

Considering that Norway needs all hands at work, for as long as possible to provide a reasonable level of pensions for the future, there is an opportunity today for the experienced 50+ year old employees to collaborate with and mentor their younger colleagues. By combining an understanding of ‘how things have worked in the past’ with fresh ideas and digital skills, companies can gain the best of both perspectives.

At Google and Cisco, multi-generational teams are consistently seen as the highest producers – integrating out of the box thinking with experienced empathy, complex problem solving and strategic thinking. The short-term benefits are enhanced results and more satisfied employees while developing the workforce of the future.

The real long term benefit to society is increased sustainability of the workforce by giving everyone new opportunities for growth and learning. Many studies show that continuous learning has significant positive impact on people’ mental and physical health at all ages. Consider the example of the 80 year old man who earned a PhD in Mathematics then moved into a new career after retirement.

By encouraging collaboration and learning across the generations, we can destroy the myth that people ‘above 50’ are outdated.

 

Learning, relevance and contribution is not based on age but on motivation, training and opportunities to remain active.

By encouraging collaboration and learning across the generations, we can destroy the myth that people ‘above 50’ are outdated. Integrated, diverse teams in which tenured workers mentor, train and collaborate with digital natives, enhances employees’ valuable professional and life experience. Simultaneously, it increases company success and extends the longevity of the current workforce.

This can be the beginning of a paradigm change regarding how people “above 50” look at themselves and their role in society. By leaning forward to embrace new technology, ideas and colleagues, they learn while contributing to the sustainability of Norway’s future.

Digitalization shouldn’t be left to the young to deal with. It provides an opportunity for growth and success for everyone.

Read more: Stop talking, start innovating: How to achieve success in «Silicon Valley Style»

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