The year I was born, personal computers didn’t exist and Apple wasn’t a household name. In fact, the World Wide Web hadn’t been invented. Google wasn’t a verb, noun or adjective. My first on-the-job experience with a desktop computer was in DOS and printed on green bar.
The year my daughter was born, Twitter opened its site. iTunes sold it billionth download just days before her birth. Just after her first birthday, Apple introduced the iPhone.
Now, two out of every three people on the planet have a mobile phone subscription. There are more people with mobile phones than running water or toothbrushes. One in 10 people on the planet have a Facebook account and revolutions in the Middle East are gaining momentum through social media.
The difference between what I knew as a kid and what my daughter knows is mind-boggling at best. She is growing up with a pill for everything, food-like substances, ‘reality’ TV, and laws to try to prevent people from texting/Facebooking/Googling while driving. Her generation has a rapidly growing desire for the best, newest and fastest. For her and her peers, it’s a race to gain information, but maybe not always knowledge.
Discussing the differences between parents and our kids with a friend, he might have hit the nail on the head when he stated “the future of voting in America will be via text messages and on a platform similar to ‘American Idol.’” Although I find this thought completely humiliating for the human race, he probably isn’t that far off.
We will soon have five generations in the workforce, and the landscape is in a constant flux. Not only will individuals need to be agile and open to new ideas and processes, but organizations are being forced to look at the definition of work. The tools we use to do our jobs are going to change, but more importantly the application will need to be more fluid. Organizations will need to adapt to a growing market of customers and employees who are overly-connected through technology, and push to getting what they want, when they want it.
As you prepare for your next strategy meeting, a discussion with your child might prove useful to begin the process of moving in the new direction. If we take a look at the habits of our children and how they communicate amongst their peers and adults, we could gain a glimpse of the future in workplace communication. Additionally, she is learning in a technology-based atmosphere and is required to pass a reading test not only through a paperback book, but also on a computer. This makes me wonder what else has changed in twenty-five years.