Gen Y Millennials will soon rule the world and Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2014 reveals some fascinating insights into their values and motivations.

When asked “What is the Purpose of Business?” our future leaders say business must encourage innovation and positively impact society. More than half of Millennials surveyed (52 percent) believe business, more than any other area of society, will achieve the greatest impact in solving society’s biggest challenges.

  • 36%: Improve society
  • 35%: Generate profit
  • 33%: Drive innovation
  • 29%: Produce goods and services
  • 27%: Enhance livelihoods

Millennials want to work for organizations that support innovation.

Deloitte millennial survey 2014-2

Barriers to innovation: Managers take heed

Roughly two-thirds of Millennials feel the outlook and attitudes of management are serious barriers to innovation, such as a reluctance to take risks; a reliance on existing products, services, and ways of doing business; and an unwillingness to collaborate with other businesses or universities. A similar percentage cite a variety of organizational barriers that impede new thinking, including poor channels of communication across the organization, lack of a formal process to encourage innovation, and a poor organizational structure.

Building an innovative organization: Who will generate the innovative solutions needed to address the challenges confronting societies around the world?

Organizations must nurture emerging leaders. Over one in four Millennials are ‘asking for a chance’ to show their leadership skills. Additionally, 75 percent believe their organizations could do more to develop future leaders.

Millennials want to work for organizations that foster innovative thinking, develop their skills as leaders and wish to see them making a positive contribution to society, but many Millennials find business lacking in these areas. If you don’t make the culture change necessary to keep Millennials engaged, they will flee to start their own ventures or join the competition.

For Millennials, fostering innovative, ‘out-of-the-box’ solutions is more a matter of business processes than individual genius. Almost 60 percent of Millennials believe organizations can become good at innovation by following established processes and that innovation can be learned and is repeatable, rather than being spontaneous and random. To encourage the innovative ideas of its professionals, whether Millennials or their older colleagues, businesses will need to examine their culture and practices.

Source: Deloitte’s Millennial Survey 2014

I’m encouraged by how much Millennials value creativity, innovation, and fostering a culture that enables collaboration and leadership. I’m heartened too, by their passion for using business as a catalyst for creating a positive change in the world. These aspirations echo the ideals of Willis Harman, one of the founders of the World Business Academy, who in 1987, re-imagined the role of business from being solely focused on profit-making to include taking responsibility for the whole. Now it’s up to us to enable emerging leaders to find creative solutions to the challenges we face in business and society.

How will you foster a culture of innovation culture in your organization?

Here my suggestions to get started:

For emerging leaders

  • Find opportunities to be resourceful and enterprising, in ways that add value to internal customers (your boss and team) or external customers.
  • Make a business case for your ideas. How will they help your organization achieve overcome barriers and achieve its goals?
  • Develop your skills in influencing and persuading others to get ob board with your ideas
  • Listen. Collaborate. Co-create and express your ideas.

For established leaders

  • Ask millennials for their input and give them a chance to lead.
  • Match the passion of employees to the mission objectives of your company.
  • Tell them what needs to be done and let them figure out how to do it.
  • Stop shooting down other people’s ideas. Instead coach them on improving ideas.
  • Collaborate with employees to overcome organizational constraints that deplete energy (eg: tracking down info needed to get work done, lack of managerial support, too many meetings, etc.)
  • Provide occasions for informal social interaction for you and your team to get to know each other not just as professionals, but as human beings, to enhance camaraderie and build trust.
  • Ask questions that spark energy and insight
  • Craft meaningful and exciting work. 

If you are a manager tasked with leading teams, I’d like to hear from you. How do you foster creativity and innovation? What are your biggest barriers? What is your experience in working with millennials?

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