Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 10th 2013 Contents BG26 | COMMENTARY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt OCTOBER 2013 • WEEK TWO
There is a cultural shift now
underway that is transforming
the human side of organisa-
tions. Digital Immigrants are
being replaced in the corporate
ranks by digital natives. From
human resource and corporate learning to
sales, marketing, management and innovation,
the tide of change is growing harder to resist.
The organisations that stand still in the face
of this cultural avalanche will lose top talent.
The companies that smartly respond to the
shift, will not only gain an edge; they will
ensure their survivability.
Social media is playing a major role in shap-
ing how society interacts with world. It is not
a passing fad. It s dominance is here to stay.
We ve witnessed the rise of Facebook,
YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and
Google+. At the same time, we are witnessing
the rise of the digital generation.
As ubiquitous as social media is, there are
vast differences in how it is being used, and
how it is influencing human behaviour. On
one side, the digital native. On the other side,
the digital immigrant
Digital natives are those persons born during
or after the general introduction of digital
technology. They have grown up surrounded
by and immersed in digital technologies, such
as the Internet, mobile phones, digital music
and online social networks.
So what does that make everyone else? Brace
yourself. If you are not a Digital native you
are a digital immigrant. In other words, you
were born before the widespread proliferation
of digital technologies and you adopted at
some stage in your life.
Employees now routinely expect their
employers to provide more self-service work
tools to mirror those they use in the rest of
their lives. In fact, even the term "work-life
balance" is now dated. In its place has evolved
the phrase "work--life integration," wherein
we acknowledge the blending of the two. This
why every organisation that cares about inno-
vation, business competitiveness and sustain-
ability, must understand what it takes to keep
digital natives at least productive, and ideally,
Why? Employees are expecting and increas-
ingly demanding a greater voice in how, where
and when they work. More and more, the
preferences being expressed are for a workplace
that is more personalised, mobile, and social.
The good news is that digital natives can
infuse companies with a new work culture.
They can accelerate the transformation of out-
moded processes and systems. They can bring
new technological skills and fresh thinking
that can be harnessed to improve workplace
efficiency and to significantly increase pro-
Here are five keys to getting the most out of
the digital natives in your organisation:
1. Mobility matters
For natives, new gadgets aren t just toys.
They depend on technology daily to meet their
needs. They develop elaborate communication
systems built around technology to connect
them instantly to information. To hold their
attention, you ll have to re-imagine corporate
Lose the noticeboard, ditch the white board
and retool the boardroom. Instead, integrate
corporate communications channels more in
line with how natives socialise and collaborate
outside the workplace.
2. Multi-taskers by default
Stop waiting for natives to focus; they live
in a state of "continuous partial attention". If
you think they re trying to do too much at
work, you should see them after hours when
they re tweaking the settings on their Facebook
page, looking for research material online,
updating their Instagram accounts, window
shopping on Amazon and watching the latest
viral YouTube sensation *one* more time. Get
used to it. Instead of expecting them to do
less, demand that they do more.
3. Empowered to Create
Many ordinary natives are publishers, movie
makers, artists, song creators and story tellers.
They tend to learn best through trial and error.
As one Harvard Business Review article put
it, "show your creatives unconditional support
and encourage them to do the absurd and fail.
Innovation comes from uncertainty, risk, and
experimentation---if you know it will work, it
isn t creative. Creative people are the natural
experimenters, so let them try and test and
play. Of course, there are costs associated with
experimentation---but these are lower than
the cost of NOT innovating."
4. Embrace the social
The Internet is at the centre of the digital
revolution, the social revolution and the knowl-
edge economy. Ubiquitous online social net-
working sites facilitate a reflexive culture of
sharing. Since natives solve complex problems
best in an environment of (online) collaboration,
you should allow workers to build and maintain
a social network while at work to share knowl-
edge and foster communities.
5. Change is constant
There is a reason natives tend to process
information at twitch speed; their paradigm
is one of constant change. That disposition
puts them ahead of the curve because every-
thing will change even more in coming years.
If you can harness their ability to transform
corporate processes and systems, you will find
that they infuse your company with a new
Bevil Wooding is the chief knowledge officer
of Congress WBN (www.congresswbn.org),
a values-based international non-profit. He is
also executive director of BrightPath Foun-
dation, an education-technology non-profit
(www.brightpathfoundation.org). Reach him
on Twitter @bevilwooding or on
facebook.com/bevilwooding or contact via e-
mail at technologymatters@brightpathfoun-
the 'new guy'
I know what you're thinking. There's some-
thing wrong with the new guy. Sure, he knows
his stuff and he's definitely tech-savvy. Yet,
somehow, he strikes you as unfocused and eas-
ily distracted. You see him, sitting across from
you in that important meeting, working in-
tensely on his smartphone or touchscreen tablet
the entire time. Know what I'm talking about?
Truth is, though, he may be the most focused
guy in the room.
Millennials are projected to make up 75 per
cent of the global workplace by the year 2025.
That new guy? He's just the beginning. The next
crop of hires that are going to rocket your busi-
ness to the top of the food chain are digital na-
tives---like new guy.
Five rules for managing digital natives
How to get the most out of your new, Internet connected, tech mobile enabled, social-media savvy hires
Creative people are the
natural experimenters, so
let them try and test and
play. Of course, there are
costs associated with
these are lower than the
cost of NOT innovating.
Harvard Business Review article
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