The millennial generation is rebalancing the relationship between the individual and the organization. 

The Millennials, also known as Generation Y or the Digital Natives, like to play by their own rules writes Lauren Martin for Elite Daily in September 2014. They are skeptical, particularly about authority and the system. They look to their peers rather than the experts, because they know the experts have been so wrong so many times before. They value freedom, don’t want to conform and expect technology to make their lives faster and easier. They’d prefer to clean a toilet than wait on hold for customer service. Basically, they don’t trust the message. They’ll figure things out for themselves because they’ve got search and social.

According to a 2014 survey on millennials by Aspect Software, over half of them dropped at least one brand in the past twelve months because of poor customer service.

“Millennials are self-reliant and technology dependent, but not necessarily tech savvy, and they expect instant gratification,” said Jason Dorsey, Chief Strategy Officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics. “They don’t just like speed and ease of use, they expect it.”

We must design our websites for speed, for simplicity, because the millennials are just the spear point of a world that has got a taste for doing things for themselves, for doing things quickly and easily. We are seeing a historical rebalancing of the relationship between the individual or community and the systems and organizations that are used to govern and control them.

Those who control the flow of information control society. Those who seek such societal control have thrived on complexity because complexity is meant to reinforce the ignorance and impotence of those who do not have access to information.

Learning Opportunities

With the web, there has been a bursting of the dam. I used to worry about information overload, but that worry was misplaced. Really, it’s information emancipation that has happened. My parents would never question authority figures, whether they were doctors, teachers, priests or politicians.

In 2014 in the US, according to Gallup, only 46 percent of people felt that priests were honest and ethical. (Ethics is the whole business case for religion, isn’t it?) Not surprisingly, only 17 percent trusted business executives while 14 percent trusted advertisers. The percentage of people who think politicians are honest (7 percent) is less than the number of people who think salespeople are (8 percent). Think about this shocking statistic for a moment: 93 percent of people in the US think politicians are dishonest. In the 1950s and 1960s over 70 percent of people trusted US government. Brands are trusted by about 25 percent of US citizens (40 percent globally).

Brands and politicians have had an unfair advantage over citizens and consumers. We now have a more level playing field. Organizations need to radically change. We can’t market at or talk down to people anymore. We have to listen and respond. Organizations need to embrace a service culture if they want to be part of the future.

Millennials are not a generation. Millennials are an attitude.