Thursday, March 5, 2015

Can Digital Workers (a.k.a. Millennials), Deliver? No.

NOT if you continue using industrial age management theories.

In this 8 post series, Brad Szollose and Rob Hirschfeld invite you to share in our discussion about failures, fights and frightening transformations going on around us as digital work changes workplace deliverables, planning and culture.


Cloud Culture vs. Traditional Management.

Digital workers will not deliver. Not if you force them into the 20th century management model then they (and you) will fail miserably; however, we believe they can outperform previous generations if guided correctly. In the 21st Century, digital technologies have fundamentally transformed both the way we work and, more importantly, how we have learned to work.

So far, we’ve framed this transformation as a generational (Boomers vs Millennials) challenge; however, workers today transcend those boundaries. We believe that we need to redefine the debate from cultural viewpoints of Boomers (authority driven leadership) and Millennials (action driven leadership). In the global, digital workforce, these perspectives transcend age.

We looked to performing music as a functional analogy for leadership.


In music, we saw very different leadership cultures at work in symphonic and jazz performances. The symphony orchestra mirrors the Boomer culture expectation of clear leadership hierarchy and top-down directed effort. The jazz band typifies the Millennial cultural norms of fluid leadership based on technical competence where the direction is a general theme and the players evolve the details. Both require technical acumen and have very clear rules for interaction with the art form. More importantly, these two extremes both produce wonderful music, but they are miles apart in execution.

Today’s workforce generations often appear the same way – unable to execute together. We believe strongly that, like symphonies and jazz concerts, both approaches have strengths and weaknesses. The challenge is to understand adapt your leadership cultural language of your performers.

That is what Brad and Rob have been discussing together for years and, now, we’d like to include you in our conversation about how Cloud Culture is transforming our work force.


Buckle up...over the next 8 weeks, we'll be going deep, bringing you the 21st Century methods of people management.


Our point of view: About the authors

Rob Hirschfeld and Brad Szollose are both proud technology geeks, but they’re geeks from different generations who enjoy each other’s perspective on this brave new world.

Rob is a first-generation Digital Native. He grew up in Baltimore reprogramming anything with a keyboard—from a Casio VL-Tone and beyond. In 2000, he learned about server virtualization and never looked back.

As founder and community lead of the OpenCrowbar project, Rob is the CEO of RackN, which provides support, consulting and commercial extensions to the community project. 

Rob is also a board member for the OpenStack Foundation. A position he was elected to fill in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and the chair of DefCore committee.


Brad is a Cusp Baby Boomer who grew up watching the original Star Trek series, secretly wishing he would be commanding a Constitution Class Starship in the not-too-distant future.

Since that would take a while, Brad became a technology-driven creative director who cofounded one of the very first Internet development agencies during the dot-com boom. As a Web pioneer, Brad was forced to invent a new management model that engaged the first wave of Digital Workers.

Today, Brad helps organizations like Dell close the digital divide by understanding it as a cultural divide created by new tech-savvy workers ... and customers.

Beyond the fun of understanding each other better, we are collaborating on this white paper for different reasons.

  • Brad is fostering liquid leaders who have the vision to span cultures and to close the gap between cultures.


  • Rob is building communities with the vision to use cloud products that fit the Digital Native culture.