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A Monty Pythonesque Moment!

by Steve Prentice  |  February 9, 2009  |  2 Comments

I just love the Australians – they are direct and challenging, which always makes for a stimulating conversation. Yesterday, during a day of client meetings I was discussing social collaboration, innovation and the relationships between technology and society with a CIO and his team. He is a seasoned veteran who has seen it all and done it all. At the same time, he and his team have created a very Gen Y frienddly environment. Support for personal devices, no restrictions on access to social networking sites, lots of innovation and understanding about the expectations of a Gen Y workforce. I had to say I was impressed – he had gone much further than many organisations I speak with. Then he hit me with the sucker punch!

“So the question I have for you” he said, leaning back in his chair with the start of a wry smile on his face, “is this – we’ve done all this stuff for our Gen Y workforce – But what has Gen Y ever done for me?”.  Shades of Monty Python and the Romans!! It is a difficult question to answer, because many of the usual benefits about innovation and morale, recruitment and retention, productivity and collaboration are all difficult to measure, there is lots of soft benefits, but not a lot to wave at the CFO come budget time.

Now clearly, since actions speak louder than words, he believed that what he had done was necessary or it would never have happened, but the current conditions often require us to go back and measure and document the benefits. “What has Gen Y ever done for us?” is a very good question and I would welcome your answers (on a digital postcard please!). And don’t bother to mention the roads, or the sewage system – I’ve already got that on the list!

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Category: behaviour  technology  

Tags: generation-y  

Stephen Prentice
VP & Gartner Fellow
13 years at Gartner
35 years IT industry

Stephen Prentice is a VP and Gartner Fellow working in the Executive Leadership and Innovation Group (part of CIO Research). He takes a specific interest in emerging trends and the long-term future of technology - looking at the intersection of technology, business and society. Current research interests include... Read Full Bio


Thoughts on A Monty Pythonesque Moment!


  1. Nick Jones says:

    Maybe if Generation Y hasn’t done measurable anything for him, he was investing in the wrong things?

  2. Richard Petersen says:

    Kudos for the Monty Python analogy! Better “what have the Romans done for us?” than the “Cheese Shop” tech vendor! But to your point, the problem is that Gen Y employees are telling stories and having conversations, which lie outside realm of .ppt and .doc, but as John Seely Brown pointed out, stories and conversations lie at the heart of knowledge work and information dissemination. Our Web 2.0 tools need to not only facilitate the conversations, but close the loop – documenting without ossifying, and to provide measures of effectiveness. Of the X people who read this comment, Y found it useful. What’s the ROI? Hard to say, but the Romans didn’t ask about the ROI of roads and sewers either 😉



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