What “Innovation” Means To European Young People
This was the question driving a recent MTV Knowing Youth analysis. The project used an array of sources, including a quantitative survey spanning five European countries, in-depth qualitative and quantitative research in the US, and external sources such as the Millennial Impact Report, Deloitte Millennial Innovation Survey, and numerous news articles.
Here are key findings from this study:
It all starts with technology
Millennials are growing up differently from the prior generation for two main reasons: the tough economy and technology. When asked what drives innovation, their top answer by far is “more available resources and technology.” Technology empowers them and plays a central role in their everyday lives.
Because success was previously defined more by a narrower, more linear sense of achievement, Generation X was willing to trade a higher rung on the corporate ladder for higher stress levels. For Millennials, personal identity factors more deeply into their career goals. More than 8 in 10 believe a personal connection to their work is essential. The same proportion agrees that even if they have a job to pay the bills, it’s important to have a side project they love that could eventually become a career.
Millennials’ ambitions extend beyond corporations themselves, with 70% saying their dream is to run their own business. Nearly 80% agree that their generation is starting a movement to change old, outdated systems.
While Millennials are often stereotyped as lazy narcissists, in reality they’re all about doing instead of sitting on the sidelines. For 3 out of 5 young people, “getting stuff done is my generation’s motto – we’re not just all talk.” They look to the positive and are determined to make the most out of life.
We think of Millennials as “manifestors.” They want to accomplish things, but they also bring a manifesto to their work—what they care about, what meaning they want to experience, and how they want to live their lives. More than 8 in 10 say they want to make something that has an impact.
Creativity for the greater good
If Millennials are “manifestors” who want to make a difference, creativity is the route to get there. While young people have a strong sense of ME, their sense of WE is stronger. They want to share, help others, and maintain both a sense of community and a global perspective.
Creativity means different things to young people. What’s interesting is that they’re elevating the potential of creativity to a higher place. Nearly 8 in 10 agree that “I want to be part of creating something bigger than me.”
And they’re acting on this drive. Almost 9 out of 10 US Millennial employees have donated earnings to non-profits and 97% prefer using skills to help a cause, according to the 2014 Millennial Impact Report.
There is also room for corporations to partner with young people to incite change. A recent global study by MSL Group revealed that nearly 7 in 10 Millennials want businesses to make it easier for them to get involved in making the world a better place.
Reverence for entrepreneurs
Young people view successful entrepreneurs as modern-day heroes. Two-thirds agree that “founding the next big start-up is cooler than being a rock star,” suggesting that the prestige of entrepreneurship is reaching an all-time high. Millennials see this as an utterly democratic space, with nearly 3 out of 4 agreeing that “anyone can be an innovator with today’s technology.”
The new way of working
Scratching beneath the surface of Millennials’ attitudes and behaviors, it’s apparent that they experience and perceive work differently from previous generations. So, what are they doing?
- HACK. Going beyond established notions of hacking into computers, young people are repurposing old materials, ideas, or systems to create something new.
- SWARM. Millennials are by nature group-oriented with a belief in the “crowd.” They’re leveraging the networks around them to develop big ideas, believing that the very best ideas belong to groups of people instead of individuals.
- BETA. In contrast to the old corporate model where plans had to be perfected before launch, this is about getting a project or product out early, seeing if it works, and tweaking it until it’s right. The key is not just to be brave and risk failure, but to involve customers’ input as part of the process.
- HUSTLE. Sometimes you’ve got to game the rules to get things done. Unlike the previous generation, young people today are not inclined to wait for permission. Millennials put progress ahead of all else and just want to keep moving forward.