GenFlux Says Embrace the Chaos Nonprofits
We live in a society that loves labels - some you wear on your sleeve (whether literally or figuratively), others are given to you simply because of your birth year. There are the labels that marketers have given to us in their desire to sell something from a hamburger to a new pair of kicks. But, what happens when there's really no label to describe you, when change has become the norm and you have to market to chaos?
It's been interesting to watch as my peers come of age professionally and begin to collectively force organizations to reimagine what the work place could or should look like today, or maybe five or ten years down the road. Like me, the oldest of the MIllennials have now spent about a decade in the workforce - but our story is is still very much unfolding. This month Fast Company's cover story is on Generation Flux - a new label given to young entrepreneurial leaders who are redefining business by embracing chaos. Although as the article emphasizes, GenFlux is less a demographic designation than a psychographic one. What defines Gen Flux according to FastCo's Robert Safian, "is a mind-set that embraces instability, that tolerates and even enjoys-recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions." And it's not just happening at Google and Facebook - it's trickling into the culture of many institutions and I'd argue is beginning to infiltrate the nonprofit sector as well.
When I learned that Nancy Schwartz would be hosting the first Nonprofit Blog Carnival of 2012, I couldn't think of a better way to launch into the new year and my new blog then by joining the carnival of voices who have come together to participate. Nancy's challenge was to share our dreams for causes, organizations or the nonprofit sector in the coming year. For those of you who followed my writings on Social Citizens, it may come as no surprise that my hope this year is that the nonprofit sector finds new ways to embrace the creativity, entrepreneurial spirit, and at times the chaos of the Millennial Generation -- while Millennials in turn harness the wisdom and experience of the older generations. My hope is that we are able to do so in a way that is both spirited and respectful - because if we fail, we will continue to be set back as individual organizations and as a sector.
There's no question that organizations have their work cut out when trying to blend four very established and distinct generations in the workplace (the Silents, Baby-Boomers, Gen Xer's and now MIllennials). This has forced some difficult conversations already, but I'm not convinced it needs to be that way. Embracing the spirit of a younger generation can come in many forms, that's part of the chaos. But, there must be a recognition that our institutions are out of date -- as Safian writes in his Fast Company article, "the long career is dead; any quest for solid rules is pointless, since we will be constantly rethinking them; you can't rely on an established business model or a corporate ladder to point your way; silos between industries are breakind down; anything settled is vulnerable."
Just like Millennials and now "Fluxers," the nonprofit sector stands at an important inflection point with shifts that are having an impact on the sector technologically, demographically, and socially. In five to ten years, those nonprofits who survive and are successful through these shifts will see themselves and be seen by others as very different organizations. The one's who are successful will begin to embrace a little of the chaos - and will be willing to accomodate the unique and changing desires of the younger generation. If we can figure this out, everyone will benefit.
How will your organization embrace a little chaos this year? We want to hear from you and feature your stories!