From Millennials to Inclusion: Key Reflections From Great Ideas 2015

Couldn't make it to this year's ASAE Great Ideas Conference in Orlando? You missed out on a ton of good stuff. But fortunately for you, we have some highlights here, including a sneak peek at a new book focused on millennials.

It’s perhaps one of the most-watched generations in the world of associations, and this duo are perhaps in the best place to explain it to the public at large.

Consultants and online scribes Maddie Grant and Jamie Notter are clearly pushing generational buttons with the title of their new book, When Millennials Take Over (currently on sale for 99 cents as an Amazon Kindle book; a sample chapter can be read for free), but even they admit that the title has its limits.

“No generation really runs things completely,” Notter said during the authors’ Tuesday session at ASAE’s 2015 Great Ideas Conference in Orlando, Florida. “It’s always a team.”

Nonetheless, there’s a lot of work that could certainly be done to close the generation gap—and that was of interest to many session attendees, just a few of whom were actually millennials. (A few, like me, straddle the line between generations X and Y.)

But the audience certainly had a number of thoughts on the defining characteristics of millennials, including those found on the list I shared above. So are these crazy millennial types all jean-wearing, want-it-now, flex workers (with sleeve tattoos)?

At least some of these stereotypes ring true. Notter and Grant both say there are lessons that these younger workers can share that can help organizations as a whole, breaking down the mentality of millennials in four ways: They’re digital, they like clarity, they want to work fluidly, and they want things quickly.

The point that the duo highlight in their book comes down to this: If you can figure them out, the lessons they offer can help improve your organization as a whole—and the benefits can translate to everyone.

During their talk, Notter claimed that millennials “are our secret decoder rings.” That’s about as sticky a lesson as you’re gonna get from this year’s Great Ideas conference.

But it wasn’t the only one. Some other conference highlights:

Inclusion is more than diversity. In his first ASAE session in a few years, author and speaker Joe Gerstandt made a strong pitch for fixing the organizational issues that cause people to feel left out. “Just because we have a lot of diversity does not mean we have an inclusive space,” he said, noting a few examples of how poor organizational structures discourage differences in ideas and worldview and encourage assimilation. (And, yes, the article referenced in the tweet above is real.) The audience was clearly invested in the topic—more than half the session was spent answering questions from attendees. Check out his slides here.

A missed opportunity to crowdfund? During a session on 50 innovative ideas in action, Kerry Stackpole, IOM, FASAE, CAE, asked audience members if their association is using Kickstarter. Despite being in a fairly large room, not a single person raised a hand. Too bad—there could be a great opportunity for an association that jumps on it. But beyond that, the Wired 4 Leadership strategist offered up numerous examples of ideas that can be translated to other organizations. Check out his full list here.

Looking for new apps to try? A good place to start is with “Your Nerdy Best Friend” Beth Ziesenis, who kept a running tally of interesting apps that surfaced in two separate sessions, including a 20-minute huddle in the conference’s Discussion Den area and an “App Off” panel discussion. Some of the apps listed might be old favorites—Evernote and Google Docs, for example—but a lot of lesser-known tools, such as the videoconferencing app Zoom and the interactive whiteboard app Doceri, might prove immensely useful, too. Check out Beth’s crowdsourced list here. (Also of note: Her session included its own theme song. How’d she get it? She used the creative-services marketplace Fiverr.)


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!