Recently the phrase "OK Boomer" went viral--and unfortunately, perpetuated many of the stereotypes we hear time and time again. The meme-worthy phrase, regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, overlooks one of the most important and under-discussed aspects of multi-generational collaboration.

See, while everyone loves debating which generation is "more innovative" or "less tech-savvy," the reality is, we need each other. 

When I saw this phrase and generational debate spark fire, one of the clearest examples that came to mind was how much the marketing landscape has changed over the past decade. 10 years ago, "influencer marketing" didn't even exist as a term.

Anyone who was part of pioneering that new forefront of marketing tended to be on the younger side. Remember Vine, the platform before Instagram videos? Vine gave birth to some of the biggest stars on social media today, and the vast majority of them were in their 20s--with some still teenagers in high school.

Now, that's not to say older individuals were completely oblivious to the trend (which is sometimes how the argument makes it sound). That's just what happens when the core demographic of a popular social platform leans younger, and the platform's "power-users" start leaning into their creativity. 

But then who did those talented social media stars turn to when they wanted to start taking their careers more seriously? More mature individuals with substantial business experience, who had a different range of skills they could bring to the table. And as a result, both generations met in the middle. 

Instead of perpetuating the same generational debate, I'd like to point out the three undeniable benefits to having a multi-generation team--and why we need each other now more than ever.

1. Perspective

I'll speak for myself here: I've been through two recessions in my career.

Each time, my perspective on the world shifted dramatically. Half my friends from business school lost their finance jobs in New York within six months. This was the first time I realized there will be moments on the journey where everything isn't going to trend up-and-to-the-right. 

Compare my perspective to someone who hasn't experienced a recession, who graduated college in the past ten years, and you have two very different world views. One still believes the chart will never trend down, which gives them tremendous courage to pursue their ideas without fear. And the other knows the chart will go down at some point, and will plan accordingly. Neither one is right or wrong. Individually they're both right, and they're both wrong.

But together, they're terrific.

2. Innovation

Age is just a number. A mindset is a mindset.

You can have a fixed mindset when you're 22 and a growth mindset at 60. Or, you can have a growth mindset at 22 and a fixed mindset at 60. The age of the individual is rarely correlated.

Diversity within a team, then, is really about diversity of experiences. You want someone in the room who has experienced 20 years of boardroom dealmaking. But you also want someone who grew up in the age of social media building profiles from scratch. And you also want someone who knows what it's like to scale a venture. And you also want someone who is hungry and ambitious to do it for the first time.

Older individuals tend to possess a tremendous amount of skill in knowing how to bring ideas to life. Younger individuals tend to be remarkably talented at coming up with compelling ideas to bring to life in the first place. The former without the latter is often stale, but the latter without the former is often directionless. 

But together, they're perfect.

3. Leadership

My company recently held our end-of-the-year strategy planning session, where we had different team members come together to discuss our goals for next year.

In the room were people of all generations. And one of the things we found was how aligned everyone was--which was the outcome we were hoping for. Even though we were bringing people together from different departments, roles, and levels, everyone shared the same mindset and was aligned on the key goals for our company as we approach 2020 and beyond.

In the workplace, looking at people in terms of which generation they're from can be misleading. At the end of the day, everyone is still part of one collective team, working toward one common goal. 

We get more accomplished together.

Published on: Jan 2, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.