Are You Too Old To Be Innovative?

Apr 20, 2011 –

When it comes to innovation, are you likely to get better results if the people on your “innovation team” are younger or older? I began thinking about this question after reading this interesting post by innovation consultant Gregg Fraley.

Fraley discusses the tempest in the blogosphere that ensued when a hot ad agency named a 55-year-old as its “curator of pop culture.” Outraged commenters blasted the decision, wondering how on earth someone of that age could possibly stay on top of trends or know anything about pop culture.

On the contrary, Fraley contends, being older is actually an advantage in spotting trends: “There are trends, and there is the culture they fit within, and broad knowledge of culture takes years to cultivate.” He goes one step further by saying age is actually an advantage when it comes to being innovative. (Read his arguments here.)

Conventional wisdom holds that enlisting younger people, business novices or people who aren’t familiar with your business or industry is a good way to innovate. People who don’t have a lot of experience in your business, so the argument goes, are more likely to think in unusual ways.


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