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The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Lesson 5 of 6

A Mash-Up of Wisdom & Disruption

Gaynor Strachan Chun

The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Gaynor Strachan Chun

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Lesson Info

5. A Mash-Up of Wisdom & Disruption

Lesson Info

A Mash-Up of Wisdom & Disruption

Something we were talking about a little earlier, but I think a lot of companies that have real issues with generational, kind of like, you know, I don't what to call it, kind of like tension or anyway, is that what we're not doing is really thinking about it as being a collaboration. I mean, collabor-creation, again, as we well know being creatives, is, you know, is where peers come together to create something new or better. It's different than teams. Teams are brought together to do a specific task. A collaboration are kind of like peers. So, you're treating each other as equals. You're treating each other as being the same and you're trying to come up, to use your individual skills to create something better. And, so for me, it's really like thinking about it as a mash-up of wisdom and disruption. This, the generation coming into the workplace, their role is to disrupt, to say, "how can we do this better?" And, the generation that has been in the workplace for a while and has that ...

experience, their role is to provide a sense of balance with some wisdom. So, if you put wisdom and disruption together, you kind of get this new system that helps us stay relevant as individuals, stay relevant as a business, and keep the business moving forward, so. You know, so that's the way that I like to think about it is peers coming together to create something better. And mash-up deliberately. You can actually learn from mash-ups, right? I mean, if you think about what a mash-up really is if you break it all down, and I know there's lots of different types of mash-ups, but a mash-up is a mixture or fusion of disparate elements. So, if you think of, kind of like, you know, all of us as being the disparate elements. We're all individuals. And, they are a collaboration because, typically, they are, you know, they came to be in music, right, where you have two very talented artists coming together to mash-up their styles while still showcasing their individual talents and creating something different. So, that's how I like to think about it, in terms of the generations, is how can you bring together the talent that you have, have them still retain their individuality, but by working together they're actually create something that's actually better than what was there before. The interesting thing, too, is that wisdom is actually a quality. And, we'll come on to see what disruption is in a minute, but wisdom is a quality. So, if you think about wisdom, wisdom can actually be acquired only through experience. I mean, that is the definition. You acquire wisdom through experience. But, by itself, experience doesn't necessarily confer wisdom. A lot of people have a lot of experiences, but they never learn from their mistakes, right? (laughing) So, wisdom is only, you know, is acquired through experience, but does not in and of itself, confer wisdom. So the psychologists, if you ask them, would actually agree that wisdom involves an integration of knowledge, experience, and an ability to see the big picture. So, wisdom is kind of like, is the big picture. And, you know, as you have more experience, you kind of, you know how things are gonna play out, right? I mean 'cause you've had that conversation with the client five times, right, or ten times. And, it's the same conversation, different person, same conversation. So, you get, you know, you get used to how things are gonna play out and what to do about it and when to stop and all that good stuff. But, I think for me, the big thing is wisdom is about the big picture. It's like, you know, keeping the big picture in mind, keeping that, kind of like, that sense of balance and might. And, and so, you know, wisdom really does confer that sense of balance. Disruption is actually an action. So, if you're marrying a quality with an action. Disruption is an action which, if you think about it, is what you do when you are just younger. I mean, when we were, kind of like, you know, when everyone was younger, you do a lot of stuff, right? You don't necessarily think about a lot stuff. You do a lot of stuff. (laughing) Because that's what you're meant to do. You're meant to go out there and experience things. So, disruption is a maker and a builder because it's an action, but it can be both destructive and creative, right? Because, obviously, it just, anything that's a disruption mean that it is taking something and changing it. So, it's never gonna go back to being the same. That's what technology has done for us. It's what, kind of like, you know, and all our, you know, phones have done, our iPads, everything that we now use in technology has changed our behavior. We're not gonna go back to not having a smartphone. I mean, it's just not gonna happen. So, it uproots and changes how we think, and how we behave, and how we learn, and how we do business. It is very active, disruption. And, the, actually, the Collins Dictionary definition of disruption is when there is a disruption or an event, the system or process is prevented from continuing to operate or operate in its usual way. So, you're deliberately recognizing that you're bringing wisdom and disruption to come together to create something different than what is already existing. And, I think, you know, for a lot of companies right now, and somebody said it before, we don't like change, right? And, for a lot of big companies in particular, it's very difficult to change. And you think about how they have to operate. They have Wall Street where they have to, you know, go quarter by quarter, quarter by quarter, or the board of directors that's setting specific profit, you know, and, you know, goals are based on numbers. And, it's quarter by quarter, quarter by quarter. And, then you're asking them to change while they're still flying that plane. So, they still have to deliver and you're asking them to change. And, I think that's why a lot of large companies are having a real problem with how do we know that the way we do business and the way that we work within our business has to change, but how do we do that and still deliver, you know, kind of like, you know, the fuel that we're being asked to deliver. So, one of the reasons probably why Michael Dow, who I worked with when I was in the agency business when he was like 20 years of age and the Dow company was a 1-800 number, he went public and then bought his company back and took it private again because he said he could not do the innovation he needed to do organizationally and from a product perspective under the constraints of share holders and Wall Street. So, so, you know, part of the issue with disruption is that we want it all to happen at once. And, we get frustrated when the movement doesn't happen. But, for a lot of these big companies, again, we have to understand where they're coming from and they can't necessarily move, so. It's easier if you're in a smaller, nimble, more flexible creative environment. And wisdom and disruption can be ageless. There are people that are wise beyond their years as we well know and Jack Andraka is one of them who's this fifteen year old Intel Science Award Winner. And, I just thought this was an amazingly wise quote that he did in a 60 Minutes interview. "If you don't have the creativity "to put your knowledge to use, then you just have a bunch "of knowledge and nothing else "and then you're only as good as my smartphone." Which, I just, again, it's just a very, if you actually break that quote down is very wise. And, he's right, right? Knowledge is just knowledge unless you do something with it. And there are disrupters in every generation. I was one. I've never been much for rules, you know? So, I disrupt. I disrupt. They don't conform. They challenge authority. They fuel new ideas and ways of doing things. And, in a sense, they're the ones that if you were doing a modern day Apple Think Different campaign, they would be the people that you would put in that campaign because there's always people in every generation. And, they continue to be disrupters. Being a disrupter doesn't go away. Just like being wise doesn't go away. And, so, again, we just need to be aware that there are wise people in every generation and there are disrupters in every generation and get away from that stereotype, too.

Class Description

What do you get when you put a baby boomer, a GenXer and a millennial on a team? Squabbling? Misunderstanding? Utter chaos? Or maybe you get a potent mix of styles, perspectives and ideas that can move your business forward in ways a more homogeneous team couldn’t.

While teams made of like minded individuals can seem more manageable and harmonious, they aren’t particularly realistic considering that the current workforce is made up of people from four different generations. So it’s a good idea for managers and team members to figure out ways to just get along.

Gaynor Strachan Chun will explain both the challenges and opportunities that multigenerational teams present and show how they can provide team members with experiences that are more fun, fulfilling and successful.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Recognize the unique strengths of each generation.
  • Keep an open mind, accept different opinions and respect others’ backgrounds.
  • Find the fun in multigenerational teams.
  • Get over stereotypes and presumptions that we have about different generations.
  • Understand the value and power of diversity.
  • Set up rules of engagement.


Jerry Smith

very well done, so much to learn, best of all is the process of explaining stuff is amazing, i totally highly recommend to learn from here. 10 our of 10 points from my side. Jerry Smith


It's so refreshing to have a productive and practical conversation about multi-generational teams. Gaynor reminds us of the important roles that generations play in our society by discussing how both wisdom and disruption are essential. She provides language and concepts that help us break down our stereotypes and empower multi-generational teams to be not just functional, but also creative.