GovLoop - Knowledge Network for Government

In article entitled "End Political Gridlock: Put a Millennial in Charge," Laura Sessions Stepp says:

In the midst of the recent debt-ceiling impasse in Congress, I wanted nothing more than to put the smartest 20-something legislative assistants together in a room and ask them to resolve it.

OK, I'm kidding. Sort of. But millennials, on the whole, possess traits that many members of Congress -- in particular freshmen Republicans in the House -- appear not to have...

She went on to say:

Stop by any watering hole on Capitol Hill after 7 p.m. and you'll find millennials vigorously arguing everything from the merits of education reform to Social Security, marshalling reason as well as emotion. In the minds of a 26- or 27-year-old, the fact that he or she might choose one path and a friend might choose another is grounds for a drink together after class or after work, not a standoff.

Of course, there are a handful of young hotheads in Congress. But almost all national polls show that most millennials are more open than their elders to other people's opinions...

I'm not trying to pit one generation against another here, but I'm wondering if there's some merit to Stepp's assertion.

What do you think? What if we put Millennials in leadership roles - or, at minimum, created ad hoc working groups -- to see how they'd sort out some of the hottest, hyper-partisan issues of the day?




Tags: Gen Y, Generation Y, Millennials, diversity

Views: 521

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

I am a baby boomer and I am open to anyone's opinions.   I don't think anyone's ideas are better or worse because of age.  What matters is if the idea is good and worthwhile.   I think what we need are people who will bring ideas to the table that are best for all and not a political party. 

Why not? The current system is not working.  Besides, millennials will have to pay the bills for the last 30+ years of voodoo economics, greed and stupidity.
Agreed - they/we are inheriting a mess - why wait a decade before they start taking ownership of them?

Most millennials I know are terrible with money and we kind of need people who are good with it and maximizing it. I would take the exact opposite approach and say we need to put old people, really old people (old to me that is) in government, America seemed to be running alright when our grandpa's were in charge. 


In all seriousness though I really don't think we need a youth movement in gov't. My generation has had everything handed to it pretty much on a silver platter and I'm not sure that approach lends itself to a perfect remedy for the current situation. We will be the 1st generation that doesn't live as well as or better than our parents as far as quality of life goes. While I hate throwing myself and generation under the bus I think they will be a serious gap in management and leadership until the following generation is ready to take the lead. 

@Stephen,  Well said.  There is no substitute for experience. 

This is a really interesting discussion - I think it is more important to focus on the traits of a millennial, rather than the actual age of an individual. I know plenty of people who are not millennials but act more like one than I do - so I think it's more important to look at the traits and leadership/management styles that define the group. Whoever can do the best job leading an organization and helping forward the mission - let them run with it, regardless of age. Basically, in my opinion, we need more leaders who think like millennials, but doesn't necessarily have to be one. I really like John's idea of reverse mentoring!
I call it mentoring whether the youth are teaching or learning.  I think the problem is too many like thinking people in charge.  Mix it up by ability, age, faith, gender, race, sexual preference, (did I miss anything?) so we can see challenges and opportunities from many standpoints.  If I am an ethical person, I want someone thinking NOT like me to foresee what I cannot.   

I don't want to hire people who are mirror images of myself.  I want diversity on all fronts and fresh ideas and viewpoints. 

Really?  Is that during a hiring freeze?  The millenials are quite savvy, if Uncle Sam doesn't give them what they want, they will shrug their shoulders and move on.  The economy doesn't scare them very much. 

Agreed that generalizations are tricky, but studies do quantify characteristics of Millennials that have some interesting points.  You have to understand many will not fit this profile, but if its a generational trend, what are the implications for the future?


The Center for American Progress says Millennials are the most pro-government generation in decades, despite being quite critical of how the US government actually works.

Our experience at Code for America suggests that a certain type of Millennial (and our fellows are Millennials and older, up to late thirties) is fantastic at ignoring the politics and jumping in with fixes, hacks, improvements, solutions.  Some context here.  We like these qualities and think they can help in the long run.  ;-)


Andrew, Kudos on the mentoring program and would love to hear more.

Hey Jen - Thanks for chiming in!  Code for America = brilliant.


As for the mentoring program, you would make a great mentor! You can learn more about it here:


Nice comment, Jen.

I believe we need both...for instance, I am a baby boomer, but tend to think somewhat more radically than my peers.  I'm working on "architectural" IT solutions that solve the organizational and structural issues that plague governments...primarily at the local level.

To do business and technical architecture does require some experience...most of the IT architects (not software developers) I run into are not millenials...most have 20+ years of experience in IT and in particular industries/sectors. They know where the skeletons are...

We also need folks like Jen's Fellows...folks that can jump in and solve immediate problems.

We can do cross-mentoring here too...

The issue to avoid is creating problems elsewhere by solving problems in one area...unintended consequences.

Hence the need for put in physical terms...think of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA.  Mrs. Winchester just kept building, with no architecture.  The result is a hodge-podge and she created a maintenance nightmare. IMHO, that is how most IT in government looks today.

I like to think of it in terms of Alice in Wonderland talking to the Cheshire Cat..."If you don't know where you are going, then any road will get you there."

We need to define the vision and then design the road to get there, so we have context for our day-to-day decisions.


© 2014   Created by GovLoop.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service