Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Technology: does 40+ hamper innovation?

On Saturday the newspaper had a great interview about the gap between the internetgeneration (screenagers) and the rest (40+): I didn't want to blog it because it's in Dutch and only for subscribers, but I'm still thinking about so here we go after all: Does 40+ hamper innovation?

It's a double interview with two workers, 44 and 24 years old, Ruud and Liza, working together in an advisory job. It's amazing to read how different their working approaches are: Liza does a lot of multi-tasking, phoning and searching the net for instance, whereas Ruud can only do one thing at the time. Otherwise he feels stressed. He can also be disturbed seeing how other people do many things at the same time, wondering if they are paying sufficient attention. In the client organisation, Liza ran arround fast. After a few weeks, Ruud asked her if she had seen a key contact in the organisation- she hadn't but she had built a good trust relationship by e-mail with him. Ruud was amazed and assumed you have to see each other in the eyes to build a trust relationship. He is often amazed by her speed of thinking and the amount of information she can process. Liza feels her talents are not sufficiently exploited because the older managers don't understand the different way of working of younger people. She has the impression they often see her way of working as a threat. At the same time, she did see value in Ruud's approach because it yielded a lot of quality information -even though she feels it's time inefficient to invest so much time in travel and talk.

I'm currently experiencing linking by internet as a whole new way of building relationships, though I'm sure I'm not as fast as Liza. Last november, I met a group of new people, and with one of them, Dorine, I hardly talking during the day, but we found each other's blogs- mailed- and exchanged intensively on overlapping interests via the web- in a fluid and easy way. I easily know what she's working on and can find linkages and synergy between our work without much time investment.

So it's an additional layer of building relationships- which I've even experienced with people online in Ghana. Therefore, in my opinion the 'digital divide' is much more about people with and without online skills than a north-south divide. Netsquared is collecting cases of NGOs who are early adopters of web2.0 tools and have more cases in Africa than in Europe; see their map with NGO cases....


hoong said...

I am just being nasty ... :) as usual

Why then CEO has secretary to run around for them, sending emails, preparing powerpoint ...???

Another question is: IS FAST means good? Is SLOW better? Sometime in our haste to be FAST, we might miss out plenty of things.

I have built relationships both online and offline. Some online relationship disappear once we met because we find that when talking, our 'brains' or mode of conversations are not the same as online, therefore the 'trust' seems to have gone. And these are working relationships, not private.

Here is an example. I know a person very well online, he is very well versed in KM, especially CoP. Therefore I insisted to have him as a keynote speaker for a workshop. It turns out that he is not a good speaker. I still trust him, we still are great friends, but I will never trust him to give a presentation again.


hoong said...

The title of this post is: Technology: Does 40+ hamper innovation?

Now that I read it again, I do not understand what is it actually trying to say? In my opinion, Technology might help in some innovations, but innovation does not necessary depends on technology.

I think this is the problem with a lot of the discussions going on about innovation. Especially listening to the politicians. Most assume if we are loaded with technologies, we would/could innovate?

In order to have 'innovation' 'happens', it needs the right group of people if we are talking about team , right environment, right technologies perhaps but not necessary, right leadership, right moment etc. etc. Without anyone of these items, innovation will have a hard-time to materialize.

Innovation is like gardening. Right soil, right plant, right climate, right season ....

Joitske said...

Hi Cindy, the title of the article was does 40+ hamper innovation? It analyses whether older professionals work in 'old' ways, but looks only at one case. And in this case the 40+ is quite open to work and learn with the younger one. I draw from it that innovation is not hampered if people are open for younger or different employees with different ways of working. But it potentially leads to clashes. Not the technology perse, but the differences in use of the technology and preferences