Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Social Good of Young Innovators

A while back I was attending a professional organization meeting where there were about 60 or so attendees; primarily members and some guests. The chapter leader asked everyone to stand. He then proceeded to ask everyone that had been a chapter member for a year or less to sit; a small portion sat down. He asked for people that had been in three years or less to sit; a slightly larger portion sat down. He proceeded to ask about 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, and so forth up to 50 years.

After the 20 year mark there were only a few people standing. These were older folks that had been with the organization for some time, and the chapter leader asked that the chapter commend these folks.  This particular organization has an average member age of 55+ and is diligently working to bring in younger members. And, while I do applaud showing gratitude for so many years of service for one organization and its efforts, I couldn't help but think whether the chapter leader shouldn't have gone the other direction and started at 50 years.

Why are we, as nations and as a world, obsessed with celebrating the past through events and figure heads? Shouldn't we be celebrating the young, our future, with every waking moment?

To quote a brilliant person, and a man my family adores (particularly my son):
“Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.” 
― Neil deGrasse Tyson

I am, by no means, implying that we should discount the tremendous efforts of individuals or specific monumental achievements & events. But I do think we need to spend more time, money, and attention on younger generations. Whatever concepts or actions a previous generation creates, it is inevitably up to younger generations to advance them or even start anew.  This is true for every aspect our lives including our:
  • Personal & familial relationships
  • Business & organizational relationships
  • Communities, Markets, & Industries
  • Global relationships
With each facet of life, we stand on the shoulders of giants and reach ever higher. But we also find new ways to support each other; new ways to grow & evolve that may not include the past. In fact, we may flat out dismiss the past in favor of a better way. This is the nature of innovation. And with technology at the heart, and with the internet in particular, progressive thinkers can connect, engage, & collaborate like never before.  

I say this as a father, an organizational leader, a business person, a global citizen and an advocate for the Social Good. We should embrace young minds in our communities and industries. We should work to create one human voice celebrating the young & the innovative spirit for the Social Good of all.