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Blog: Something is Happening Here

Blog: Something is Happening Here

Inter-generational dissing is even more fun than booing the other team when their players run out onto the field. I've said lots of unkind things about generations in front of me and behind me (and I reserve the right to continue this smug and self-indulgent behavior).

Now that the generation born between 1980 and 1995 is entering the workforce in large numbers, they are making waves just like an earlier generation born between 1946 and 1964. A 60 Minutes documentary recently aired a lot of the criticisms being leveled at this latest generation. I want to go on record as unequivocally stating that long hair and bell bottoms are much cooler than flip-flops and tattoos (so let no one question my generational loyalties...); yet I find myself pondering some gems of wisdom delivered by this latest generation as they face the realities of our global economy.

We're all dealing with these economic realities but those of us who have been around for a while sometimes don't see what's happening as clearly as the newbies because we are looking through glasses colored by our own experience. Sometimes there's nothing so clear as a new pair of eyes. I came across a blog post a couple of days ago titled "60 Minutes takes a dump on millennials"; and between it and the comments people left, I found some interesting insights.

A person named Kenny left a comment with this to say, "People are no longer having 'careers'. We are entering a work-force where nothing is solidified. In the 80s, the idea of pensions were still around. In 90s, you had a great economy. Where's our motivator?" Good question Kenny; that's something for all of us to think about.

A guy named Joe observed "The baby-boomers frequently draw distinctions between 'work' and 'play'. If it's 'work', it's not fun. If it's 'fun', it's not work." He went on to say, "The notions of 'hard work' and 'paying your dues' are clearly lost on the millenials. But is that really such a bad thing? Does it not also make sense, in today's electronic world, to encourage smart, efficient and creative work? In the post-industrial era, is 'hard' work really more valuable than 'fast' work, 'good' work or 'fun' work?"

Joe, you're pushing my buttons - of course ya gotta work hard and pay your dues; let me tell ya about workin' hard and payin' dues... And then Joe goes and asks a question that turns my whole argument upside down. Hmmm, he might have a wee bit of a point there.

This new global economy is clearly about more than just working hard. Innovation and agility don't happen by doing the same old things over and over, harder and harder. What other things might smart people with clear eyes be able to tell me? Innovation is what happens when we integrate different views into new visions.

There is so much incredible new IT powered stuff out there (from hundreds of Web 2.0 software-as-a-service offerings to gadgets like iPhones and GPS mapping and direction finders); it overwhelms me. My first inclination is often to just close my mind, ignore it, or say it's like some older thing I already know about with a few bells and whistles added on.

But in my more creative moments I know there are insanely great new things to be done with this new stuff. There's lots of fun to be had and there's money to be made too if we can put it all together in innovative ways. Working hard is fine but it's just as important to work fast and have fun. In a world where pensions are going away and working at the some company for your whole career is a thing of the past, we need to think about new ways to motivate people and new ways to produce value. It's time to get inspired.

Another member of this latest generation left a comment that said "anytime a paradigm is challenged those in power get defensive because they don't want the system they have created to be 'wrong'..." Very true, yet to paraphrase someone from 40 years ago, maybe it's time to take another look, because something is happening here; but we don't know what it is; do we...?

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