Tuesday, April 27, 2010

oh very young

Jonah Lehrer wrote today on the interesting phenomenon of creative peaks across individual life spans, centuries, and entire scientific/creative fields. He descibes the quantum mechanics revolution during the early 20th Century which flourished because of, and with the talent of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed scientists who were far exceeding the achievements of their older counterparts:
After a few years in the academy, however, Simonton says that "creators start to repeat themselves, so that it becomes more of the same-old, same-old." They have become insiders, invested in Newtonian mechanics; that is what they know and that is what they believe in. It's only the impetuous youth, those marginal figures without tenure or grants of their own, who properly appreciate the anomalies of the subatomic.
This got me to thinking of the theory's applicability, on a far lesser scale, to the modern workplace and how young people in their first and second jobs, despite what many would argue, might be considered prime agents for organizational innovation, creative production, and even leadership. As a result of their "outsider status", brand-new workers have an advantageous view, the ability to recognize inefficiencies and opportunities for change in areas where a seasoned professional might still be practicing "business as usual". The same ideas were shared by Rosetta Thurman in her discussion on generational change in the nonprofit sector. Her suggestion to the Baby-Boomers on how to handle the overwhelming emergence of Gen Y to the scene: Let them lead.

This seems to be an idea that's talked about often, but put into practice only very rarely. But I see so many around me eager to get their hands dirty, to move things around and stir the pot, if only because we see how stagnant it is. Where older generations might help out is by taking notice of the younger generation's ignorance to worn-out models and systems, and rather than deeming it a liability, see it as a positive and provide the learned guidance that will encourage the innovation we're already primed to produce.


michelle rene said...

i hope we never lose our impetuous youth and that passion for budding creativity. i don't think we will. :)

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