LEARNING & INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
The coming of the Millenials or Net Gens
The keynote presentation of Tony Bingham, ASTD president, at the recently concluded ASTD 2009 Conference & Exposition in
Tony referred to them as Millenials or Gen Ys or Net Generation (Net Gens) based on their defining characteristic—the network—and, quoting various sources, characterized them as:
• Net Gens are the largest generation ever (born in 1977 to 1997). And the oldest in this generation is 32—so we're already seeing the impact in the workplace.
• In the
• Some stereotypes of the Net Gens—they can't make a decision, don't want to "pay their dues," ignore hours and dress codes, need constant feedback, their parents are involved in everything, and so on.
• The evidence is strong that they are the smartest generation ever. Raw IQ scores are climbing by three points a decade since WW2, and they have been increasing across racial, income, and regional boundaries. This generation thinks it's cool to be smart, and they see themselves as an essential part of the world's future success. When a global sample of thousands of Net Gens were asked, "Which would you rather be, smart or good looking," seven out of 10 chose having smarts.
• As employees and managers, the Net Gens are approaching work collaboratively, collapsing the rigid hierarchy and forcing organizations to rethink how they recruit, compensate, develop, and supervise talent.
• The very idea of management is changing with Net Gens. In education, they are forcing a change in the model, from a teacher-focused approach based on instruction to a student-focused model based on collaboration.
• The bottom line is this: If you understand the Net Generation, you will understand the future. You will also understand how our institutions and society need to change today.
• In their book, Groundswell, authors Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff provide this example: More than a million viewers have watched a YouTube video posted by law student Brian Finkelstein, who filmed a Comcast technician who fell asleep on his couch in 2006, waiting on hold for help from the Comcast home office to fix an internet problem. What happened to these companies will happen to you. Your company's customers are talking about your brand right now on MySpace, probably in ways you haven't approved. Your support representatives' conversations with customers will show up on YouTube, and so will your TV commercials, intercut with sarcastic commentary. If your CEO has any hair left, he or she is going to tear it out and then ask for your help in taming this torrent of people expressing themselves. But this movement can't be tamed. It comes from a thousand sources and washes over traditional business like a flood. And, like a flood, it can't be stopped in any one place. Often, it can't be stopped at all. And while you can't stop it, you can understand it. You can not only live with it, you can thrive in it. That's the point of this book. The groundswell trend is not a flash in the pan. This is an important, irreversible, completely different way for people to relate to companies and to each other. It also includes social networks like MySpace and Facebook.
• The authors of Groundswell see the collision of three forces: people, technology, and economics. They see these three trends—people's desire to connect, new interactive technologies, and online economics as creating a new era. And, we have a generation of people entering the workforce who don't know any other way—this is the way they've always done it.
Are you ready for the Net Gen? Tony Bingham tells us how next column.
Moje is at www.learningand-innovation.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook and Twitter.