Why aren't the youth in our professions and industries kicking in our doors to enter the associations that represent those professions and industries? Why don’t they want governance roles in our associations? I asked a few of them at a brown bag lunch recently and got three very interesting insights.
One is that our approach, or at least our content, is boring. Dull invitations, dull brochures, dull documents, all one-way, us-to-them. Static, one-way communication isn't engaging. Animated and interactive communication is.
Another is an apparent disconnect between what we want them to be and who they are. 'Token' roles for young people, especially when they show up and find themselves generationally outnumbered, aren't appealing. Invitations to 'come be like us' have even less appeal and are seen as condescending. What they want to hear is 'come be yourself and we'll fully integrate you as you are'.
The third had to do with their tools. According to them, it's time we get over our demand that they turn off their handheld devices at meetings. They made a couple of points that are hard to argue with: If the content being presented is compelling, they'll pay attention. If it isn't, they shouldn't have to pay attention and should be allowed to make more productive use of their time. They don't understand why we want to take their productivity tools away from them. They like the ability to text and tweet during the meeting, about the meeting. It's about interactivity - sharing what they are hearing/learning. As one said, "I AM paying attention. I actually can do several things at once, including listen while I tweet."
All three concepts are food for thought. We could present arguments to any of them. But I doubt it'd change who they are. And they are who we need.