Who’s the Boss


I have heard twice today, in two separate contexts, that younger people think bosses are bad. The first was during Rebbecca Jones’ talk on Organization 2.0. She said, “Young people are not comfortable in a command and control environment.” Basically, the younger generations do not like to be in a strict structure. In Jenny Levine’s talk on gaming, she said that the younger generations that grew up gaming (that would include me) have grown up thinking that facing the boss is bad. The Boss in a game is the bad guy at the end of the level that you have to beat to progress on. The first instance of this that I recall in my life was Super Mario Bros.

In a recent discussion with my old boss, we were discussing how she, only a handful of years older then I, thrives in a strict organizational structure while I feel stifled and unhappy. I think this is an issue that has not been discussed nearly enough in our conversations about organizational culture. We do talk about generational issues, but I have not heard the issue from this particular angle.

I do not think gaming is the only thing to blame for this “I do not want to be bossed” mentality. I think many people my age and younger simply want some flexibility and trust that traditional organizational culture can not offer. When I try to think of alternative strutures though, my mind does not come up with much. I am a product of the structure I hate.

I do know that it would definitely be flatter. There would be less red tape and there would be more trust. It would also be flexible, as Rebecca Jones was saying, like an amoeba. The organization could be changed easily and would not require years of thought, after which the new structure is outdated anyway.

–Jane, flexibility is key