Saturday, February 03, 2007

Collaboration: The Next Generation

Since I recently had a “milestone” birthday (so people tell me), it gave me a chance to reflect yet again on the fact that I’ve been in the work world longer than some of my colleagues and clients have been on this earth. While that could be a frightening thought, I figured that I could use that perspective to my advantage. So, I’ve decided that an area of research interest for me will be how the incoming generations of knowledge workers will interact and collaborate with each other. As a researcher—and academic wannabe—I decided to come up with a hypothesis to base my work on. I’ve written about it before, so I won’t go into detail about it again, but it’s basically “how do young professionals (as defined by the “millennials” or some other tag) interact differently than those of earlier generations” (as defined by the “geezer” group or similar that I’m a part of)?

I think they do (and will) interact differently than the rest of us in the workplace. Two site visits this week and a keynote speaker that I’m listening to right now as I type this corroborate my view. First, an APQC site visit is what we do with best practice organizations as part of our collaborative benchmarking studies. We physically visit the organization—and in this case it was NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Aerospace Corporation—and have them host a meeting to discuss what they do that makes them considered “best practice” in the knowledge domain we’re studying. For this study its knowledge retention and transfer strategies. Both NASA and Aerospace indicated that they’re using some of the newest technology enablement tools to reach the “younger” professional. The keynote speaker is entertaining the audience with his insights about what makes the boomer different from the Gen X’ers from the Millenials, and so on.

While this is good to hear—and I’ll certainly use them as data points, I just hope this area doesn’t get researched to death before I use it as my dissertation research problem! In the meantime, I’m going to go and check out Second Life. I think I can use a makeover and that sounds like the easiest (and most painless) way.