How to leverage the strengths of five generations in your packaging department

By Matt Dingee in Optimization on July 30, 2019

Diversity is highly regarded in the workplace, but rarely sustained as an organizational strength. Additionally, diversity of thought is challenging because it can be observed in the organization’s skill to harness the divergent mindsets and converge toward a single successful objective.

In today’s workplace, some combination of five generations are actively employed—each offering different mindsets to any given objective.

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Consider two common organizational perils impeding generational diversity. First, the company that executes efficiently with agreement, mostly from the generation “in charge”—are they producing the most innovative solutions? Or, the company that employs vibrant viewpoints and launches a concept riddled with compromise—how effective is an established company that cannot focus for the mission?

One way to capture cross-generational diversity is to look for the strengths of each generation and leverage them into the company’s operating mindset. Each generation derives unique mindsets from their formative time-bound context. It is the next “Strengths Finder” approach, now applied to the generational mindsets.

Focus and leverage what each does best—and ignore the rest (yes, even the overplayed jokes about Millennials). I have drawn and observed these strengths in my decade-plus working inside the world of packaging; a generationally diverse population that is on the brink of generational isolation or collaboration.

 

The packaging industry, established in 1950’s, is a relatively young industry—but with the onset of five generations and the pioneers of packaging nearing retirement, the threat is real and the opportunity ready—to be determined by how we handle generational mindsets.

Each of the five generations has distinctive mindsets that enrich the team.

Will we allow the generations of experience and knowledge to step off in silence? Or do they step aside in chosen solitude, because the “game has changed”?

Will we tag all the young generations as too “green” and miss a big idea? Will we delegate doing the “green” thing to the next generation? (View video “Gen Z on technology, packaging jobs and the environment.”)

Will your packaging department succession plan look like an Olympic handoff? Or a multi-generational mastermind?

It’s up to you—take the first step and grab a coffee with that generation you want to learn more about. That’s usually how all great things start out—pouring over coffee.

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Matt Dingee

Matt Dingee is the co-founder and president/COO of OnPoint2020, a consultancy offering Packaging Insights and Services to growth-minded brands of all sizes. Dingee previously developed an array of packaging at Pepperidge Farm and Campbell Soup Co., where he conceptualized and commercialized a first-to-market flexible re-close feature, which garnered the distinguished DuPont Award for packaging innovation. He also led an international assignment where he managed and integrated packaging strategy as an influential business driver. Dingee’s passion is working with an entrepreneurial spirit to help brands discover the power of packaging in their business. You can also find him pressing his coffee on his Aeropress and serving his local church.

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