I just finished a long travel stint which culminated in a course at USC Marshall School of Business (Center for Telecom Management) on Telecom Leadership. The most interesting days were the study of ‘Generations’ and the impact on the market (Both as the workplace shifts and as the market demands new things). The definition of a generation:
‘The aggregate of all people born over approximately 20 years (One phase of life) who share common location in history, beliefs and behaviours and perceived membership in a common generation’.
The generations:
  • CIVIC – 1901-1924, The GI or Hero Generation
  • ADAPTIVE – 1925-1924, Silent Generation
  • IDEALIST – 1943-1960, Baby Boomers
  • REACTIVE – 1961-1983,
  • Generation XCIVIC – 1982-2002 (?),
  • Millennial Generation

One very interesting statement was that ‘The generation before wants them to act like their generation, when in fact the next generation reacts to the generation before them’. I found this a very interesting statement, and one that I came to understand through the discussion. The Baby Boomers (1943-1964) were described as optimistic, team orientated, focused on personal gratification / health and wellness, personal growth, youth, work and involvement. The defining events were JKF’s assassination, the Vietnam War, Watergate, broadcast TV, civil and women’s rights. This was the activist generation. This drove behaviour which was broadly characterized as ideological, spiritual, judgemental (A world of black and white), communitarian, perfectionism, values focused and narcissistic.While the Boomer’s crusaded for important changes (elimination of segregation, women’s rights), they also created an environment for their children where divorce reached an all time high, single parents became the norm, latch key kids were a major issue of the time, children were not as valued – looked at as a hardship, families started spreading out  and the average 10 year old spent 14.5 minutes a day with a significant adult role model.

These childhood experiences created Gen X, the nomadic (reactive) generation which is characterized by the following core values: accountability, speed, pragmatism, family, diversity and balance. An interesting quote was that Gen X watched their baby boomer parents come home exhausted and stressed from work and said I don’t want that. The Gen X behaviour was characterized as action orientated, results focused, self reliant, risk takers, informal, sceptical and tech savvy. Key Gen X events: The energy crisis, Atari, PCs, Jonestown, Three Mile Island, Ronald Regan Inaugurated, Challenger Disaster and the Exxon Valdez.This lead to significantly different attitudes between generations. Key examples:

  TV GenerationBoomers PC Generation‘Gen X’
Web What is it? Web is a tool
Community Personal Extended Personal
Perspective Local Multi-National
Career One Career Multiple
Loyalty Corporation Self
Authority Hierarchy Unimpressed
Outlook on Life Optimistic Skeptical
Attitude toward Work Driven Balanced
View of Authority Love/Hate Unimpressed
Relationship Approach Self Sacrifice Reluctant to Commit
Decision Making Team Orientated Self Reliant

A very interesting view into my generation and my parent’s generation.

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