Recently at a 4GenNow Conference, I heard Nick Titus, a 17-year-old company founder and CEO, say "If you will listent to me, then I will listen to you. But this has to go both ways."
Suddenly I had a lightbulb moment.
For years I’ve shown the image above to audiences and asked, “Where is the information?” This gets people talking about top-down communication vs collaboration.
But as Titus spoke, I realized that I’ve been asking the wrong question. The question is not, “Where is the information?” The question is, “Where is the wisdom?” Information is cheap and plentiful. It's wisdom that's of value, and every generation has it.
Traditionally we've assumed that experience IS wisdom. The New reality? not necessarily.
Yes, experienced people have accumulated workplace wisdom—insight into solving problems, getting things done, organizing efforts or creating relationships. And that used to be enough.
Enter the Digital Revolution
Enter the digital revolution. Enter an age when getting things done or finding the best answer often depends on finding NEW links, resources or solutions. Finding the best answer may mean ignoring or challenging established wisdom. In this new paradigm, younger generations—that’s right, generations without much experience—are sources of wisdom. Not because they know how things were done successfully before, but because they are attuned to patterns that exist now.
When we innovate, wisdom flows up, down & sideways.
From Layer Cake to Apple Crisp
In this digital age, we have the opportunity to create something new – dynamic inter-generational teams where wisdom is always on the move, where every person has wisdom, and every person of every generation is both mentor and mentee.
It's as if the workplace used to look like a layer cake with experience, wisdom, authority and age in the top layers. But now it's 2018. The workplace is more like an apple crisp.
So, here’s the question. How are you sharing wisdom with other generations? How are you soliciting wisdom from them? Are you able to be both mentor and mentee at the same time?