Are you ready for Generation Y?

Last week saw the second Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco. One of the panellists, Toby Moores, is a visiting professor at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort university …

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9th September 2007 at 9:01 pm

Last week saw the second Office 2.0 conference in San Francisco. One of the panellists, Toby Moores, is a visiting professor at the Institute of Creative Technologies at De Montfort university in Leicester. He runs a company called Sleepy Dog which is (currently) best known for creating Sony’s Buzz quiz games. He describes his company as a “sausage machine of ideas”. All of which are secret until they see the light of day.

Anyway, the point of this preamble is to say that he and two other Europeans dominated a panel on Culture and Technology at Office 2.0. Moores’ pragmatic observations, divorced from the need to sell something, were like a breath of fresh air. As were the contributions from fellow Europeans Martin Cleaver, a wiki and knowledge management consultant, and Sara Bocaneanu whose organisation, SoPolEc, provides business advice to companies wishing to set up in Romania.

The conversation coalesced on control. The upcoming generation expects a different work experience to those who’ve gone before. The bright and articulate ones expect to be given responsibility and do not want to be forced to conform. If they are, then they’ll take their skills where they will feel more comfortable. They expect transparency and openness. Which is bad news those who give a different story depending who they’re talking to and managers or colleagues who add nothing of value. They will be exposed.

It’s sometimes necessary to give up control and let people figure out for themselves how best to reach the organisation’s goals. Often this involves the takeup of new technology such as wikis. Not for their own sake, but because they make life easier for the staff.

Moores’ own organisation is international and made up of a core team and then others who come together for a project – a bit like making a Hollywood movie. Cleaver suggests, “Set goals and let chaos happen in the small.”

Bocaneanu suggested that successful organisations will transform themselves into marketplaces for workers. She believes that the new technologies come close to the natural ways that people work.

It’s clear that change is afoot, as knowledge work increasingly replaces rote and production work and as generation Y sweeps in and the baby boomers move out.

Of course, this is only a tiny snapshot of one session in a large conference. If you’re interested in more, you can watch the sessions courtesy of Veodia.

[Disclosure: I met Toby Moores at Office 2.0 last year and we’ve spent a fair amount of time since talking about his excellent ideas on creativity.]

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David Tebbutt is an award-winning columnist and feature writer who specialises on the subject of using software and technology to increase business productivity. He's an analyst with Freeform Dynamics but, in previous lives, wrote for Director magazine, Real Business and was also editor of Personal Computer World. http://freeformdynamics.com

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