One measure of the usefulness of a model is how extensible it becomes over time. It was therefore extremely gratifying to see last year that Wictor Wilen from Avanade was able to build on the same model introduced in 2015 to discuss the important factor of generational preferences.
The assertion at the beginning of the article, “Microsoft Teams supercharges collaboration for Millennials to Boomers,” that Teams is “one single tool for collaboration that fits all sizes” is a bit overstated. Teams simply isn’t appropriate for the kind of collaboration you’d see in a large community of practice, for example. I wouldn’t use Teams for any sized team or project that required deep conversations that develop over the course of weeks. It’s for getting our deliverables done together. Fast.
However, the addition to the model of an axis illustrating various tools’ attraction to different generations is fascinating. In general, the tools preferred by later generations skew toward the more real-time modalities.
Wictor is pointing out in his strong statement about the universal attraction of Teams that the Baby Boomer generation is the only one on the chart that isn’t thrilled with Teams. What’s most interesting about this will be to watch how this preference changes over time.
We know that Millennials prefer a collaborative culture over a competitive one. However, Millennials are now looking for more face-time. Are they aging into a period where they are starting to care more about the political landscape, to the point that it’s starting to rival their need for “purpose”? In another 20 years, will they prefer the relative “safety” and controlled audience found in email as their careers are winding up and they feel like they need to protect their most valuable asset: years of experience and wisdom?
My own agency discovered in our transition from a physical office to “office-optional” to a completely remote team that generational preferences in work styles differed along generational lines in unexpected ways. Our Millennial/Gen-Y employees did prefer real-time chat, but also preferred to be in an office with other teammates to get personal feedback. The reasons they gave reflected factors that aligned more to a career & life stage than any particular values attributed to a specific generation: finding social interaction at work vs. with family, and wanting real-time interaction with mentors for learning new skills.
So, will this model change over time so that preferences follow a cohort, or will they remain rooted in the generation that happens to occupy that age group?