Reverse mentorship: old dogs learning new tricks

It’s been awhile since our last post – working on some projects that have consumed most of my time. I’ve seen lots to talk about but just didn’t have the time.

One of the things I’ve seen in the last six months is a greater awareness of Web 2.0 in the general public. Although they don’t call it Web 2.0 they are seeing, using and becoming more involved with Web 2.0 technologies in both their personal and business life. One of the trends I’ve noticed that is growing is the coverage of Web 2.0 in traditional media such as newspapers, magazines and television. These articles show up in the business, culture and lifestyle sections of the media.

For instance…this was in today’s Edmonton Journal – ‘Old dogs learn new tricks’ – younger workers are teaching older executives and management how to make use of the new web tools such as social media and social networking. These relationships are referred to as reverse mentoring.  Not only does this put the executive and managers in communication mode with the rest of the world it also builds a positive relationship between the younger workers and management that in previous generations wouldn’t happen.

A good quote from the article is, “The reality of good leaders is that they learn from everybody…”. By working together, the younger worker with the tools and the manager with the business savvy, they take advantage of opportunities for their company that may otherwise have been missed. Not all enterprises have the culture to support this type of arrangement though. The barriers for this type of innovative relationship also tend to exist for other challenges to the status-quo. Those leaders who take advantage of new ways of doing business will always succeed. The others will (hopefully) retire (soon) before they do too much damage!


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