How to Talk to Your 20-Something Employees

Random Access vs. Linear Thinking: From Twitchspeed.

“The under-30 generation is the first to experience hypertext and “clicking around,” in children’s computer applications, in CD-ROMs, and on the Web. This new information structure has increased their awareness and ability to make connections, has freed them from the constraint of a single path of thought, and is generally an extremely positive development. At the same time, it can be argued–with some justification–that unbridled hyperlinking may make it more difficult for these workers to follow a linear train of thought and to do some types of deep or logical thinking. “Why should I read something from beginning to end, or follow someone else’s logic, when I can just ‘explore the links’ and create my own?”

While following one’s own path often leads to interesting results, understanding someone else’s logic is also very important. A difficult challenge is how to create experiences that allow people to link anywhere and experience things in any order yet still communicate sequential ideas and logical thinking.

One approach is to set up new information-delivery systems, such as corporate intranets, that let workers break out of the traditional boxes in which corporate information has been stored, and then to create tools to link this information to systems that provide logical and decision-making structure.

The U.S. intelligence and military communities recently created Intelink, an intranet-based system in which information becomes universally available as quickly as it gets created, allowing users at all levels the freedom to create and explore random paths that lead to new ideas.

The linking and browsing structures of the Internet and intranets have many positive benefits, and managers of Nintendo-generation employees should encourage, rather than discourage, their creation and use. Managers should also be exploring nonlinear electronic alternatives to today’s reports, manuals, lectures, and lengthy narrational videos.”