Gen Y and NASA, Continued.
I've gotten many more good comments in the last couple days, and a huge spike in my hits thanks to NASAWatch. Who'da thunk it? Anyhow, many of the comments were variations on a theme. I wrote some of this in response to a response from my buddy Doc, but I'll repost here and elaborate a bit.
Some folks are uncomfortable with the idea of labels, generational or otherwise. However, this discussion has been going on for a long, long time. You can probably find the ancient Greeks bemoaning the degradation of the youths of their day. Others dislike the premise of "paying one's dues." I honestly don't know how long is a reasonable amount of time to "learn a system." However, for the sake of argument, let's say someone should be able to talk as though they belonged there after they've been on the job a year.
Some people manage to graduate and go right into some high-paying job. Some drop out of high school and start their own companies. Some get all the way through a doctorate and still have no idea what they're going to be when they grow up. The points here are that individuals all develop differently, but large organizations are all pretty much the same. If you are interested in establishing a career in a large, bureaucratic organization, then you're going to have to play by that organization's rules. And that sort of organization is going to have more and more gray hairs and seniority the higher up the food chain you go. If you're not interested in working in a large, bureaucratic organization, you go find a job somewhere else or you go start your own business.
The fact is that NASA IS a large, bureaucratic organization when others would like it to be something different. If Nick, Doc, and the rest of Gen Y (or, God help us, some members of Gen X) want to change NASA into something other than it is now, well...that'll require another blog. Keep those thoughts coming. I'd also like to thank Dave for his link to the Gen X Files.
And in the meantime, I'll open it this up for discussion here: how do you transform a traditional, seniority-based organization into one where younger folks with bright ideas to contribute can move up the food chain without having to wait 10-20 years for "their turn" or to "pay their dues?"