Flying back from the IT Service Management Forum meeting in Oslo (where I was honored to give an AM keynote), I watched The Intern. It stars Robert De Niro as Ben, a 70-year old widowed retiree whose boredom leads him to a job as a “senior intern” at an online fashion startup. The company has all the accoutrements: digital culture, an office masseuse, and a 24-year old CEO (Anne Hathaway as Jules) who rides a bike through the office.
It’s a charming, grown-up movie, easy to watch. At first I dreaded there would be a bunch of cheap age-related humor at Ben's expense. But he’s a savvy and emotionally intelligent dude with many years of business, and human, experience. He pays attention and doesn’t commit stupid faux pas. He is adaptable. He goes from a feature to a smart phone, updates his computer skills, and gets on Facebook.
And, as the movie progresses it’s clear that the important things are timeless, as in a scene where Ben takes pains to make someone else look good. It’s worth seeing the movie just for that short study in leadership.
Watching this account of generational contrast, leads me to this blog. As I look out across the digitally transforming landscape, I see millions of Bens, with the difference being they are in no position to retire. I also see underemployed millennials looking to get a foothold in the new digital economy, one of the bright spots in today’s job market.
And I see a large and complex educational system intended to help people of all ages develop the appropriate skills and capabilities to participate in this economy. We all pay for this system, through federal and state taxes, and tax revenues foregone in support of non-profit institutions.
I've been spending some time lately looking into the state of IT education. This system is more like Ben than Jules - it is also in need of some updates.