Looking for the Right Business Partner? Try a Different Generation

I was in a meeting a few years ago when two Gen Xers said the same thing at the same time. Both instantly yelled “jinx” and started laughing.

The boomers in the room rolled their eyes. The millennials thought it was cute.

If you and I are from the same generation, I simply get some of the things you do without even trying. We are likely to react the same way in meetings, love or hate the same marketing campaigns, and predict the same economic bubbles and busts. When I jump to a conclusion, you’re already there.

And those are all reasons that I probably should not go into business with you. We’re just too much alike.

Look around the table. Does everybody look like you? Change that. Diversity is key to resilience and innovation.

Building a business means answering questions, making decisions and solving many problems—and when it comes to solving problems, diversity beats affinity. Diverse teams bring different perspectives and more options to the table. Difference is an advantage.

In a group, experts in the same field, no matter how brilliant, are sure to approach problems the same way and share the same blind spots. Likewise, boomers, Gen Xers and millennials are sure to use similar frameworks and similar technology to attack a problem when grouped exclusively with their own generational cohorts.

Diverse teams win more often, and examples abound. Consider Chemoxy, one of the most successful bespoke chemical companies in the world. The company’s website features images of chemists of various ages, and Paula Tickler, commercial director, says that’s no accident.

In the labs at Chemoxy, senior scientists with decades of experience teach and collaborate with undergraduates who bring a fresh perspective.

Or consider Studio Something, the design agency that brought the world Red Bull, among other brands. Two boomers, Pete Burns and Mykay Kamra, founded the firm, but most of the staff are hipster millennials who have been coding since they were teens.

Innovation happens only when you have the right combination of experience, enthusiasm and curiosity. Intergenerational teams are the perfect way to foster that mix.

Looking for a way to jumpstart innovation and resilience at your business? Build in a motley group!

Amy Lynch is a keynote speaker, author and adviser to 4GenNow, a powerful hub for connecting intergenerational entrepreneurs.