Move Over Creative Class, the Collaborative Class Is Here

6 short years ago, Richard Florida made waves with his national best seller The Rise of the Creative Class which examined the growing role creativity was playing in our society. 6 short years later, creativity has become almost commonplace taking a back seat to a movement towards a "Collaborative Class." As part of this movement, people are finding new ways to leverage technology to develop more meaningful and purposeful connections with others creating virtual affinity groups and communities—treasure troves of information. And although technology has made collaboration much easier, the primary driver behind the unparalleled uptick that is currently taking place has been the need to fill education gaps and provide targeted information to niche groups that were otherwise overlooked or lumped in to "one size fits all" communities.

It will probably come as no surprise, but Gen Y was quick to embrace the convergence of creativity, connectivity, and collaboration launching online communities such as Brazen Careerist where next-generation professionals could go to share ideas on pretty much any topic under the sun—blogging, travel, music, careers, finance, sports. With theirs and similar online platforms, Gen Y was effectively crowdsourcing before crowdsourcing was cool. Ryan Paugh, Community Manager at Brazen Careerist, continues to witness the shift firsthand. "On Brazen Careerist we see young professionals collaborating on projects every day. One of our new most-popular groups is called Barter on Brazen which allows professionals to exchange services with one another instead of paying for them. Money is tight these days." In response, Paugh says Brazen will be hosting their first ever Network Roulette event around bartering later this week.

In the U.S., the continued decline of the manufacturing sector to the brink of almost nonexistence, the continued instability of job security in corporate America, and a shift towards jobs and careers that have a purpose beyond a paycheck, has created a need—a need not being met by more experienced professionals already in the workforce. And that is motivating many young professionals to hang out their own entrepreneurial shingles.

Augmenting Brazen's community, the recently formed Young Entrepreneur Council is a peer-to-peer education platform created for Gen Y, by Gen Y. Aspiring or current entrepreneurs can submit questions and receive unparalleled access to 80 of the world's top young entrepreneurs, business owners, and thought leaders—access that would have been impossible before the advent of Facebook or Twitter. "Advances in technology have not only allowed Generation Y to more easily find and access targeted information, but it has also enabled us to create new communities that are capable of generating and exponentially sharing even more relevant, niche-specific data" says Scott Gerber, founder of the Council and author of Never Get a "Real" Job.

How new technologies will change the way we connect and collaborate with each other 6 short years from now is anybody's guess. After all, who would have ever known Groupon would secure $950 million in funding? And even though we can't accurately predict the future, thanks to water shed advances in connectivity, the Creative Class will continue to be replaced by the Collaborative Class.

If you're not in your twenties anymore, don't worry. According to Paugh, the long-term trend will be more psycho-graphic than demographic. "On Brazen Careerist we see people of all ages logging on to share ideas and exchange services. It's a new working mindset."

Find Shawn Graham at CourtingYourCareer, on Twitter @ShawnGraham or via email at shawn(at)courtingyourcareer.com.

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4 Comments

  • Bob DiPasquale

    I'm an old guy, 51, not even sure my generation designation, probably J or K. Anyway, interesting article. I'm not sure I agree that the creative class will be eclipsed by the collaborative class though. Rather I expect a powerful combination of the two to be what evolves. Blabbering meets brainstorming, maybe call it Blabstorming. I have built a database that I think will help demonstrate my point. It's called humorq and I can't tell you the website because that would be spam or something. Anyway, there I have put in place something I call crowdsifting. We send samples of inputs to samples of inputters, and bring the best inputs to the top. In this case, the inputs are humor, and we can leverage the ultimate measure of humor, public opinion, to put a number on how funny people are. Now all of a sudden we have combined collaborative and creative as I've mentioned. Looking ahead, we apply what's here to find the world's most creative, leverage that, and progress soars.

  • Shawn Graham

    Generation J. Love it. Creativity definitely is playing a large (if not equal) part in the shift. Where do you think we go next? And how will it impact the way we work in the next few years?

  • Ryan Paugh

    If one of the fastest-growing companies in the world (Groupon) is building a fundable model around collaborative buying power then I'm willing to consider that this is more than just another trend. Thanks for including me in your article Shawn!

  • Shawn Graham

    You raise a good point, Ryan. Will we get to a point when we are less collaborative than we are now? I would imagine the movement is here to stay...at least for the near future.