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The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Lesson 6 of 6

Changing the Way We Think, Do & Lead

Gaynor Strachan Chun

The Power of Multi-Generational Teams

Gaynor Strachan Chun

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Lesson Info

6. Changing the Way We Think, Do & Lead

Lesson Info

Changing the Way We Think, Do & Lead

So, for me, kind of like the wisdom and disruption is just a very new way of looking at things when we kind of look at the generations in identifying people kind of like, you know, kind of like on that, on that mark in terms of this is what we can do to create something new. We bring together everybody. It changes the way we think, the way we think and do. Wisdom ensures the transfer of knowledge, which is really important, especially in work places, right? Who are you going to transfer the knowledge that you have to pass the business along, right? It's like that's part of what you have to do is the transfer of knowledge, not how things are done. Again, it's like people always get, you're not saying how it's done, but the knowledge, the actual knowledge and the wisdom and in terms of the business, Who do you pass that onto? Is that a value, of course it's a value, because it's knowledge and then using the disruption as an action and energy to build something that incorporates that know...

ledge, but delivers something better to stay relevant. I wanted to say a word about extreme competition just before we actually finish up, we're going to finished soon. This to me, is the one thing that actually gets in the way of all of this, is the extreme competition culture that we have in the states. We just have to look at the reality shows. (laughs) Right? And, you basically, in order to win, you have to eliminate everybody else. Eliminate everybody else. Which can really isolate us, right? It can really isolate us, it defines, it kind of bleeds over into how we work. Everybody's in competition with everybody else to show that they're a contributor or to show that they are better at that than so and so is. Can isolate us, it makes us really wary of each other so to all that talk that we had, both in active listening and in this lesson about getting to know people, I mean if you go into it with a sense of competition, it's not about getting to know people, well, maybe it is, but it's getting to know people so you can knock them out. So, it very much affects the way we interact with each other, because we no longer place importance on being present, right? So, why should I be present for somebody that I actually just want to basically knock out of the way, or eliminate. So, I think this is the biggest challenge that a lot of businesses have to face is not setting up the business as a competitive culture and it exists in a lot of places, because it will just destroy any notion of wisdom and disruption. Do we have, I'm not going to discuss, but you know. Do we have any instances where extreme competition destroyed our attempts to work as a team? I have one. I have one. So, I'm not gonna mention the networks. (laughs) So, there was a network that was in San Francisco, that I worked for, that was bought by a large company who wanted to merge it with another network down in L.A., which is why I ended up working down in L.A. and I was the only member of the San Francisco network senior management team to move down to L.A. to try and merge these two cultures. It was a difficult position to be in, right? But, the management of the network that was kind of like getting hold of the other network and merging, was all about them and they treated everything about the old network as being a competition. So, they kind of put the two networks and all the staff that went down to L.A. in competition with each other to see who could come up with, whether it was the best show ideas, the best marketing ideas, whatever. Rather than actually trying to merge us and taking the knowledge from both networks and creating a better network, they just put us head to head. So, whenever I was in a management meeting, and I would say, well, we could learn from, the San Francisco network, it was just shot down, because no, no, no, no, you were bought, so therefore now, you don't matter, because we won. We won. So, that's an example of extreme competition where you just get, all your ideas, just get kind of like put under, because they won and not us. Rather than bringing together the knowledge and creating something better. Anybody have any other examples? I know that one's pretty extreme, but. It's good that you don't have examples of extreme competition, because you hear about them all of the time, right, in these larger corporations. Or even in creative agencies, I mean, there are creative agencies that I've worked for where you know, different account groups are set up in competition to each other. There's a very famous one, actually, which I worked on. (laughs) Chiat/Day. Reebok was a Chiat/Day New York client, this was way back in the day, but they weren't very happy with Chiat/Day New York, but Lee Clow persuaded them to make it an internal Chiat/Day competition across all the Chiat/Day offices, before they went out to, classic general, kind of like you know, and request for proposal. So, we pitted, each Chiat/Day office was pitted against each other in order to try and retain the Reebok business. And there was so much backstabbing and now would be termed as hacking that went on, trying to find out each other's ideas and destroy them and rip holes in them and from an argument perspective, or strategy perspective, it was like the craziest thing, but so classic Lee Clow, so. But yeah, so that's another form of competition. It just ended up destroying any kind of camaraderie the offices had between each other, so. An example. Sure A little bit different. I notice that, this doesn't happen so much in Italy, but I notice that here, in education, instructors wanna have, of course, many classes, because many classes means more money and so they compete with each other. And it's not just that, of course, you need to have the students in the class and sometimes there is a minimum required or you're not gonna run the class. Right. And so, you have to somehow push the students to register. So you can run the class and so there is a competition with the other instructors and then I think from an ethical point of view of education, it's not really right that you push the students to register when sometimes they are not right for a topic. So, maybe the advice would be just don't study in this field because it's not right for you. But, I notice that here, things don't work like this so people just try really to compete and push everything just for money, at the end, it's just money. Which we won't get into, because that's a whole other subject. (laughing) Because that is like, actually, building a business or something that's above and beyond the product you're selling, but to actually have a purpose, right, which can be in a whole different class. Anyway. So, changing the way we think, do and lead. This is just a piece about how that translates and how we can look at emergence, in terms of emerging something like, something new, and then a few tips and I think that would be our wrapping up on that one. So, providing translation. Translation is not a matter words only, it's a matter of making intelligible a whole culture. If we are going to change something, we have to be able to communicate it, right? And we have to be able to communicate to everybody that works with us and, whether it be internally, externally, that we are changing, and that we have, we can translate that culture into something that everybody can understand and get behind. So, we have to communicate our core expectations and, of everybody that is working with us, our clients, it affects our clients, it effects, kind of like you know, anybody that is a vendor, any of you know, kind of like, all of that. We have to have open dialogue about the change, because again a lot of what a lot of people do, like a few companies where they suddenly went to a Holacratic way of doing business, where everybody suddenly had to be a self-manager overnight and then they wondered why it didn't work. It's like, well, a, not everybody can be a self-manager, right, because not all of us are built that way and b, you can't just do a light switch, switch on it. So, actually, having an open dialogue about change if you're gonna do this wisdom in destruction and bring that together and have part of the culture be learning and is making sure that you discuss that as well as discussing people's different approaches to work and work styles and you know, I think, gone are the days when you, as we well know, when you have to be kind of like, in a company at your desk by a certain time. But, then a lot of companies still like that, right? And I even read a story the other day about somebody that was, I think it was on LinkedIn or something, on one of the groups, somebody complaining bitterly about this, again they categorized it, you know, young person, who didn't realize that he actually had to work nine to five even though he finished all of his work between nine and three. And I was like, well, if I was him, and I'd finished all my work that you've given me, I'd be going home at three o'clock too, because, unless you can give me something else to do, right? So, clearly undervalued talent there, I think, underutilized talent, would be my answer to that one. You may want to look at what you're assigning him, rather than blaming him for going home at three o'clock. And I think what's really important when you have kind of like such a cultural revolution going on, is actually develop a new shared vocabulary, and it's a shared vocabulary based on the kind of culture you're trying to build. So, whether, if it's obviously, if it's based on trust, it's based on respect, it's based on that we all bring something to the table that that we can all learn, that is gonna be a learning environment as much as a business environment, because that's how we're gonna stay relevant, but finding that new shared vocabulary that is not kind of like, old or incredibly new, is a reasonable expectation. Learn from life. Now this has a lot of words on it here. There is this amazing institute, actually, over in Berkeley called The Berkana Institute and they have this system that they have discovered and developed over the years called, The Life Cycle of Emergence and it started with nature. If you actually look at how new things emerge in nature, they emerge, they start at a very local level. Small, remember we were saying before, about think small. And that hose great behavioral scientists break things down. That's how nature does it, if something is going to morph, if two species are going to come together and morph, it happens at very, where there's a plant species or otherwise, it happens at a very, very local level. So, if we're going to enact, kind of like, a big change, sometimes, especially if it's in a larger corporation, it is better to start with just one team. And get them to figure it out and become the model, right? Become the model for then how the next team is going to do it, because if one team all of a sudden is having all this this success, at working together irrespective of what age they are, or background or whatever else, everybody wants to be part of it. And that's how nature does it, it's actually how life does it. If you think how social change happens, think about what has happened, with you know, with social media and how it has developed social change. This usually happens with a Facebook group as the one, first place it starts or something like that and then it grows from there and then it goes to the ground and then it goes to different cities, et cetera, et cetera. So, business can, should operate the same way, and can learn from that, so that's what I mean by learning from life, taking the natural life cycle of emergence and our natural tendency to want to be part of something that's successful and actually translating that into a business environment. So, that's what this is about. It is how life creates change, and also how life creates scale too. So, it can work small, it can work large. And then if you're thinking of changing, six little tips as well on how to change and, in a sense, get rid of all of the labels, get rid of all the stereotypes, get rid of all our judgements and just work with individuals and people, love this Mother Teresa quote, I can do things that you can't do, you can do things, that I can't do. Together, we can do great things. It's just very simple, very straightforward. So, think small, she talked about the behavioral scientist out of the U.K. Create that tribe mentality with a small team and have them figure it out and then have them be the role model and the cheerleaders for everybody else, but make sure that you teach that team the necessary soft skills, because that's usually where they will be deficient a little bit. Learn the necessary soft skills, the active listening, the non-verbal, the verbal skills to be able to be successful. We want to set people up for success not failure. Let them develop their own stand-alone communication system because that's their, the life cycle the emergence piece. They have their own communication system. They have their own shared vocabulary for what is going to be this new system of working together. Make sure that they're actually learning how to work together on a real project. Not theory, not theory, it has to be real, right? They have to experience it as we talked about. And then, as the manager, you have to be respectful and you have to be patient. This is not, you don't give them a project that has to be done tomorrow. (laughs) Right? Don't give them a project that has to be done in a week. Give them a long-term project that they can take the time to use the project to learn how to work with each other. And that's all I have to say on multi-generational teams. Thank you. (audience applauding)

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.