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Wednesday, May 27

Room 16

Have been away in 43deg heat of Delhi and then the much cooler environs of Bangalore over the past two weeks...Away from the keyboard and therefore Room 16 has had to wait!

Essentially, it was a chance comment from a young friend of mine at BBH India that has led to this post. Apparently, BBH internationally has a day when John(Hegarty) and Simon (Sherwood) meet the youngsters in the agency and discuss the business, the future, trends, technology, life and more...

It's the day when grey hair learns from young grey matter. In fact at RMG(David) Josy, Kumar and I regularly used to interact with young students(mostly from Xaviers) and used to discuss new business pitches, difficult campaigns and other stuff...

All of 'us' learnt a lot from 'them'. I remember using our David play-school to crack the Flying Machine and Excalibur campaigns and even a couple of new business pitches.

At the rate at which technology is changing and stuff is happening around us, it now pays even more to learn from the 21 and the 16 year olds. And therefore Room 16 or 21 is a must for the Rooms 36, 46 and 56...

So what are the thumb rules for interacting with Room 16/21.

1. Experience needs to learn a lot from curiosity and play. Today the flow of knowledge between experience and the inexperienced can almost be the same. Agencies can learn a lot from a formal Room 16 day! Unfortunately the sr. management at many agencies at most times is insulated from the Room 16/21 guys!

2. It's okay for Room 36/46/56 to admit "I don't know!" Can you teach me? At work I continue to learn a lot from junior planners and young students. Young bloggers and designers. Often they are more connected. They come across more 'cool stuff'. They are invariably closer to the 'edge', the stuff at the periphery!!

3. Access to Room 16 is not restricted to a room. Even if one is running a very small agency, today one can connect with Room 16 virtually. Room 16 is available on gmail, fb, linkedin...It just needs an honest ear and some patience...

4. Room 16 Yellow pages. The folks in HR must have a sort of yellow pages for the diverse and invaluable talent of the Room 16 to 21 guys. Imagine the gains that the company can make if it taps into this for client projects and more. And believe me it is not a very costly affair to manage this! But of course it costs a lot of time and precious attention.

5. Room 16 are digital natives. This fact alone makes interacting with them a big plus for Room 36 and beyond. In fact recently I got sound advice from Room 6( my son Neo) who proudly stated that - "Papa ko toh computer game khelne ke liye kitaab padhna padta hai, lekin humko toh khelne se hi pata chal jaata hai!!"

While I was putting this post, read this article by Rishad Tobacowala in Brand Equity today. Do read it here if you haven't already!

Rishad makes a couple of very important points.(Putting him almost at the top of my growing interview list)
(a) (the Room 16/21 guys)are highly energetic, motivated, and driven individuals who are creative, accountable and hungry to learn and they have very high standards they hold themselves to.

They want the answer to three questions on any assignment.
Q1. What are we hoping to achieve?

Q2. Is there a better or cheaper way to get the same outcome?

And Q3. How can results, outcomes and they themselves get better? Answering these with a) because we have always done it this way, or b) we cannot do it that way because that is too much work and will change our business or c) the boss says so, are not considered answers worth considering.

(b) Provide access to information and tools.The Room 16/21 guys can access information and opinion with one click on their web browser or phone in their personal lives and they expect this open access to information and empowering tools at work. Anything that slows down or anyone that hoards is resented while those that provide access are celebrated.

(c) Run the workplace in some ways as a model University. There is a reason that more and more companies call their physical locations “campuses”.

This is because in many ways an ideal workplace for the Room 16 generation represents a continuation of their University days. It is a place for them to continue to learn, to contribute and to grow. And like any great University they want access to superb facilities, good mentors and teachers and strong fellow students.

In school the end result may have been grades, passing examinations, dissertations and learning. While at work it is revenue, profits, new products, patents and more. They want an environment that is challenging but also one where they can challenge the status quo.

The Room 16 generation thinks differently, behaves differently and has already started to demand big changes in the way society, business and individuals interact. Is your company/ agency prepared for the Room 16 generation? Is mine:-)

How many 16 year olds do you know/ understand? How many do I know/ understand!!!


Dharmendra said...

Boss I could not agree with you any more. You have spoken the truth in a very uncluttered manner and I am glad that there are some who are ready to face reality and the future. Look a Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma have to be accepted by the Tendulkars and Dravids as equals and nothing less. This is as true outside the confines of cricket as well. Well so many educated and brilliant minds with tons of experience have missed out this simple truth that is staring us all in the face. Simply superb thinking

Manish said...

Hi dharmendra, am glad you appreciate the point. in a country where many of our youth leaders are 40 plus and even shashi tharoor at 55 was being reffered on NDTV as a young politicin, I guess its time to take 'Room 16/21' more seriously.

generational shifts are happening at 7-10 year intervals today and not necessarily only after a generation.

lets chat when we meet in the physical world!