Tag Archives: Kalypso

Millennial Myths

16 Apr

Last month, I recommended that organizations seeking growth from innovation should “Overdose on Youth” to give them a performance enhancing boost. The response to the charge to load up on smart, talented, energetic young people was met with skepticism and anecdotes about the needy and narcissistic Millennial Generation that want everything and are not truly committed to the organization.

Then along comes an article in the latest issue of Strategy + Business by Jennifer Deal of the Center for Creative Leadership titled “Five Millennial Myths”. It lends my position some weight using empirical research into the behaviors and beliefs of those in the millennial generation. Ms. Deal found that the stereotypes are “inconsistent at best and destructive at worst.” At 2 ½ pages, you should read the entire article, but here are the five myths she identifies:

#1 Millennials don’t want to be told what to do. This proved to be flat out wrong, the young people of this generation turn out to be much more willing to defer to authority than Boomers or Gen Xers (try telling me what to do). The research says that they want to know what the expectations are at work.

#2 Millennials lack organizational loyalty. The fact is that each generation has historically changed jobs more frequently when they were in their 20s than they do later in life. Young people are looking for jobs that help them learn. When they switch it is not due to a lack of loyalty, but a yearning to grow through challenging experiences.

#3 Millennials aren’t interested in their work. No one of any generation is motivated to do the boring work that gets pushed down to lower levels. Don’t assume that younger people are not able to take on meaningful tasks. Find the superstars that are capable of doing more and whip the fast horses. If some portion of their job doesn’t captivate their imagination, you deserve to lose them.

#4 Millennials are motivated by perks and high pay. The extensive research showed no difference between generations. Yes, when you are younger and making less money, you are likely to be slightly more motivated by extrinsic rewards, but pay and perks are not going to engender loyalty.

#5 Millennials want more work-life balance. This is somewhat accurate, but is likely the result of a societal shift and related to life-stage than generation. Millennials want the flexibility to make their contributions and enjoy life at the same time. Work is more integrated into life than ever before.

This research gives me the opportunity to reiterate my recommendation to pack your organization with talented people under the age of 30. Make sure that they have interesting work to do and the opportunity to learn, develop, and advance. You will reap tremendous rewards from their contributions. Youth is like an innovation performance enhancing drug that will make the pulse of your organization beat a lot faster if taken in large quantities. I am sticking by my advice to overdose.

The Chipster

23 Mar

When the history of Kalypso is written, there will be a chapter devoted to Chip Perry. He bought his first crappy sports coat after watching “The Paper Chase” in 1973 and he hasn’t taken it off since. Seriously, you can ask his wife. Chip is the central character of so many of the most memorable moments of our Firm’s young life that it is difficult to limit the scope of my comments. Here a few of my favorites.

In September 2010 we held KARMA, our annual gathering, in New Orleans and a very good time was had by all. There were about 75 people in a hotel conference room during one of our general session meetings and the professorial Mr. Perry was comfortably leaning back in his chair against a wall reading the New York Times (Krugman, no doubt). Next to him was seated the ever-attentive and quite lovely Ms. Emily Adams. Apparently Chip’s seat was a little too comfortable because he fell asleep during a presentation (that I was giving), fell and grasped and groped on the nearest stable object on his way down. Poor Miss Emily. Gentleman that he is Chip simply pretended that nothing unusual had happened.

Chip loves his GPS device and it never fails – to get him lost. Twice in a single month he picked me up at the airport in Minneapolis for important client meetings and then relied on his GPS to drive us to the wrong building in the wrong part of town. We were very late both times. On another occasion several of us watched Chip drive to within 200 feet of the entrance to the parking lot at a Firm event, pull over, and call us to say that he was hopelessly lost. We didn’t have the heart to seize the opportunity to truly mess with him. But we were tempted.

Ask him about his old Volvo, his Las Vegas experience, his natural ability with firearms, or his English degree (“you do the math”). He may be a little scatterbrained and he may wear corduroy jackets with leather elbow patches, but he is also universally loved and admired. Read more about one of our favorite characters with character here. Chip makes the heart of Kalypso beat strong. In many ways he is the heart of Kalypso. He is our friend. I would go to war with him. I just wouldn’t let him drive.

Overdose on Youth

8 Mar

A couple of decades ago I started my very first consulting assignment at a large manufacturing company. The firm’s innovation-driven glory years in the 70s were distant memory by the time I arrived. The business advantages the company had previously enjoyed were gone, but the people were not. The memorable visual impression of a sea of gray hair (all male) in the employee cafeteria was a symptom of the problem. The company had simply grown old and sclerotic. It was eventually sold off from its parent, declared bankruptcy, reneged on retiree benefits, and is currently being run for cash by a vulture.

As a consultant I have the privilege of working within dozens of client organizations in industries ranging from high tech to telecom to life sciences to consumer products. Each of these companies has a vibe and a personality that creates an atmosphere that runs on a continuum from vibrant and dynamic to dead and dying. While I am certain that a good organizational behaviorist would be able to construct an academically sound comparative analysis of company cultures, there is one correlating factor that is easy to identify and easy to get right. It is the proportion of the workforce that is under the age of 30.

If growth from innovation is your company’s stated strategy then you should be overdosing on youth. If you want ideas to flow and concepts to flourish, you need to hire people with energy, enthusiasm and passion to push them through. I am obviously not suggesting that you institute mandatory retirement at thirty. We need the valuable guidance and wisdom that comes from experienced professionals (like you and me), but we should balance that with people that have a broader sense of the possible and the motivation to achieve what may seem impossible. Load up on smart, talented, energetic youngsters and provide them with some freedom to give your organization an innovation boost.

The popular press is filled with articles on the challenges of multi-generational management. Many of these articles point the finger at younger people as spoiled and unmanageable. This has not been my experience. Youth is like an innovation performance enhancing drug that will make the pulse of your organization beat a lot faster if taken in large quantities. My advice is to overdose.

Partnership

15 Feb

Introducing the guy standing next to me as my “partner” has created a few awkward moments over the years.

Working in the partnership form of business for the past eighteen years means that I have had a number of these uncomfortable encounters. Despite the occasional misunderstanding, there is no better way to describe the relationship I have with my colleagues. We are partners…in business and in life. We have bound ourselves together to achieve a common vision and share the thrills and spills along the way.

Partnership defines how we treat one another. A true partner is one that flies across the country on a day’s notice to help you acquire a new client, steps into a sticky project situation on your behalf, covers for you when you get overcommitted, tells you when you are screwing up, and does all these things without keeping score or expecting anything in return. That’s partnership.

Choosing to admit a new partner in the firm is one of the most consequential decisions we make. The partnership structure is brilliantly conceived to perpetuate itself. Our job is to build an organization that is constantly being regenerated as partners retire and bequeath their roles to a new and even more capable generation of professionals.

A great partnership is organic; always growing, continuously improving, and ever changing. What doesn’t change is the common set of core values that bind us together in friendship. I am very proud of my partners at Kalypso and the team we have built. So proud, that I would gladly introduce any one of them to a stranger as my “partner”.

Megan & the Mavs

10 Feb

Megan Creason is a Mavericks fan.

I have come to accept this minor flaw and am convinced that continued therapy will exercise all things Dallas from her being. While she claims that she was never completely infected with that form of afluenza known as the Metroplex Complex, you can’t be too careful with these things. While science searches for a cure, she has renounced her citizenship and dedicated herself to “keepin’ it weird” in Austin. Signs of hope.

She is an inspiration to recovering Dallas girls everywhere. Megan spent the Christmas break hiking the Inca Trail with a single change of clothes and a pocketful of single-ply toilet paper. She flies in coach and buys her designer handbags on sale. It has been reported that she was recently seen drinking a domestic beer right out of the bottle. Real princesses don’t do that.

I am very proud of her and have enjoyed watching her grow. Ms Megan was pressed into emergency duty as Kalypso’s recruiter over a year ago and mastered the role in weeks. She is always on the lookout for quirky characters to join our growing team. I can’t think of a better job for her. After all, it takes one to know one. Learn more about her particular peculiarities here.

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