Tuesday, 16 June 2015

The Millennials myth

There is a common view in Knowledge Management that Millenials  are different, and that their unique online behaviours will impact the way knowledge sharing happens in an organisation. This view is a myth. 

The studies that I can find based on real data show little if any difference in the way the different generations approach KM.

These studies include:
  • A study now no longer online, reviewed here, which shows no significant variation of KM behaviours with age
  • A study from Bloomberg, reviewed here, which concludes that the reality of Gen Y in the workplace is that they aren't as different as we might think.
  • This workplace strategy report, reviewed here, which shows little significant variation in the way the generations collaborate.
Now we have a new study from HBR called "Stop designing for millenials" which cites a range of examples where Millenials, expected to be different, have similar views and attitudes to other generational cohorts. The HBR study concludes as follows:

Far too many companies take a “product-out” view of segmentation, where they essentially ask their customers to line up around their products by demographics such as age or income. They should take an “outside-in” view that orients its products around their customers’ attitudes and behaviors instead. Meeting the functional and emotional needs of a group of people is much more likely to generate transformative results than targeting a generational cohort with tenuous links.

This is as true for the "Knowledge Management product" as it is for any other. Orient your KM approach around the attitudes and behaviours of your internal customers, identify and meet their functional and emotional needs, and don't assume that one generation will be any different from another. 

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