We Can’t Overlook The Power Of Age Diversity At Work

Bonnie was a 76-year-old web designer with an idea. Peeling hard-boiled eggs at home was frustrating, but she had come up with an amazing solution. She could even picture one in everyone’s kitchen. This was a business idea. Her problem now was how exactly to make it. What happened next is a powerful lesson in multi-generational problem-solving.

After some research, she found a local makers class at her local library (in Westport, CT). On her first day, the teacher listened to her idea and said he could help. They would take her idea and 3D print a prototype. Her teacher, with all of his wisdom and know-how, was all of 11 years old. And that’s how “The Negg” (short for “naked egg”) was born. Several hundred thousand unit sales later, Bonnie has a very, very successful business.

There are a number of fascinating concepts in this story, but one stands out the most: the power of collaborating across generations. Whether it’s a 76-year-old coming to an 11-year-old for technical advice or the other way around, age can be an often overlooked source of knowledge and perspective. As industries grow and change, we can learn a lot from listening to those outside of our age group. Not dogmatically, but to their areas of experience, success, and even failure.

It’s one thing to know where the opportunity is, it’s another to know where the opportunity is going. It’s one thing to know what the old processes are, it’s another thing to know how they match or conflict with the new processes. Thought diversity has become an increasingly popular topic for these reasons. Gender, race, and background are obvious examples, but we shouldn’t overlook age as a factor many institutions already have in-house, in abundance.

In a world that is always changing, progress is a goal in and of itself. Knowledge is multidimensional, so those willing to invest in diverse insights can drive greater progress than those who lack it. The Negg is an amazing example of what a little cross-generational creativity can come up with. Diversity really can lead to progress and change when we actively harness it.

And, if you eat eggs, how could you not want a Negg after you’ve seen it work?

Grommet CEO Jules Pieri tells this story the best and is outstanding in her own right. I’ve heard her tell this story on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast and on the Reboot podcast.

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