Summit Notebook

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Lockheed CEO Stevens says he learns a thing or two from new generation

September 7, 2010

Lockheed Martin Corp. CEO Robert Stevens, who turns 59 years old tomorrow, says he learns every day from the new generation at the defense company he heads — although he still doesn’t IM.

AERO-ARMS-SUMMIT/The son of a Pennsylvania steelworker who enlisted in the Marines instead of college, later completing  his education on the GI program, says, “I am one of the luckiest people you are going to meet.”

And he revels in the different approaches to solving problems that employees from different generations bring to the table. 

“I go to leadership training every day,” he said at the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit.

“And part of the people who train me are the recent college graduates who tell me what their view of the world is. Because it’s not only a different view, the way they solve problems is very different than the way people I went to college with solve problems. It’s fascinating.”

For instance, “their use of technology, the way they communicate with one another, is entirely different,” Stevens says, punctuating his comments with hand gestures.

As part of the Baby Boom generation, Stevens says he’s used to participating in a lot of meetings. “Today’s younger employees, they don’t have a lot of meetings. They’ll use Instant Messaging, I don’t.”

“If you ask me in the morning how I’m doing, the full expression from me is probably, ‘fine’,” he says.

The generational difference in approach is just fine by him. Stevens says the value of a company like Lockheed “is the ability to look at the world through as many different lenses as you possible can. Diversity has a real meaning.”

Photo credit: Reuters/Molly Riley (Stevens speaks during Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit)

Comments

As a young engineer, and I confess to using many forms of technology including IM frequently, I agree with my boss’s, boss’s, boss’s, boss’s, boss’s comments. In all seriousness though, I also think our young genaration can learn a lot from the Baby Boomers around us. They are used to a very important form of communication that we often cannot see when we use technology: body language. Even in engineering this is an important form of communication. Engineering, especially Bob’s kind (Aerospace), requires teams to achieve success, and teams only work when people work together…in person or remotely. Let’s not atrophy our ‘old fashioned’ forms of communication (like body language) by becoming complacent in our growing technology bubble. But, let’s also adapt and use technology to our benefit.

Posted by engineer42 | Report as abusive
 

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