Play to Your Workforce’s Strengths

Intel strategy futurist Jim Fister argues that workers in the arriving generation aren’t just tech-savvy—they’re naturals at collaboration. And their employers, he says, don’t get it.

Jim Fister, a lead strategist for Intel Architecture Digital Enterprise

No question, workers in their 20s and 30s can be maddening. They’re anxious to succeed, distracted by Tweets, and constantly networking with friends. But all those things also are their strengths.

Jim Fister, a lead strategist for Intel Architecture Digital Enterprise who joined Intel 20 years ago, was one of the original consumer PC strategists inside of the company in the mid 1990s, helping think through how people were using PCs at home and how Intel could help them.

Today, Fister spends a lot of time with younger people, talking to them about technology, watching the way they use it, and helping figure out how CEOs, CIOs, and other managers can best harness their huge passion for technology. He spoke with MIT Sloan Management Review editor-in-chief Michael S. Hopkins.

You’ve talked about how one of the biggest IT issues is sort of a new variation on the generation gap. Can you explain?

I remember a couple years ago being on the road with one of our IT people talking to a group of CIOs and IT professionals about Twitter, and seeing the utter look of disdain on their faces. These were people about my age, in business for 20, 30, maybe even 40 years.

The thing is this: When people my age joined technology companies, it’s because we were geeks and that’s where the cool technology was. It was there at the office. But today, all the good technology is at home. You've got a whole new generation of people who were raised with technology right in their hands. And they see the rejection of the latest-generation technology as an affront to their personal wellbeing.

Watch the video

Watch excerpts from editor-in-chief Michael Hopkin's conversation with Jim Fister.

So if CEOs or CIOs say something like, “Well, we like technology but we really want to slow the pace of how this is getting into our organization,” what these kids out of college and into their early 30s are thinking is, “I thought this would be a fun place to work. It's much more fun for me to be at home. I should go home and I should innovate.

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