In the past, people served machines. Today, machines free people to do what technology can’t: sell, service, and lead. As we explore this global shift from the industrial to the digital age, we cordially invite your voice in Developing the 21st Century Workforce™.
By Jack McDaniel
I’ve been fascinated with generational studies for several years since picking up the excellent book Millennials Rising by Neil Howe and William Strauss. (You might recall their ground-breaking book on generational theory, the pithily named Generations.)
At an AchieveGlobal event for trainers last year, we covered topics from training ROI to the latest trends. While everyone was engaged throughout, the energy spiked when we discussed options for engaging four generations of learners now in the workplace.
That day sent the hamster into overdrive running the wheel inside my head. Anecdotal evidence implies a wide disparity among how different generation use social-networking tools. My father-in-law, who once watched the New York Giants play football at the Polo Grounds, has one favorite social-networking tool ... the telephone (and I don’t mean a 3G touch-screen texting machine). On the other hand, my teenage daughters give new meaning to the word connected. Some days I feel like a befuddled Arthur Dent in their hip new Ford Prefect world.
So I suspected a connection, like peanut butter and chocolate, between each generation and its social-networking tools. In the spirit of crackpot science, I slapped together a totally invalidated, extemporaneous survey and forced my friends, family, co-workers, and all their friends to complete it.
The survey contained very few questions, with a 1 – 5 scale for the first two (What tools do you use? And how often?). I asked participants to identify their most and least favorites, and tell me why. And, of course, I asked them to identify their generation. My arbitrary list of tools covers the most popular – at least in North America:
Next week I’ll reveal and analyze my survey results. In the meantime, I would love to hear from anyone with an interest in this confluence of generations working and learning together. Are their differences real, or overblown? Are younger generations wired differently, or are any “delta factors” due solely to behavioral and environmental differences? Tell me what you think.