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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Boomers and Managed (print) Services

The Last Gap Generation - Friday, June 28, 2013, Walters & Shutwell

If you remember back to the '60's - riots, Viet Nam, Presidential and political assassinations, hippies at Woodstock, the Beatles, Stones, the Peace Movement, and a vaguely remembered issue called the "The Generation Gap".

This Gap referred to the difference between younger generations and their elders. Back then, teenagers regarded their parents' established social norms as outdated and restrictive - many rebelled:

At Transform 2013, I attended Terrie Campbell's presentation, "GenY's Idiosyncrasies - Can your Business Survive Them?"  She has an acute understanding of the inner workings of the different generations within the business environment.

Here is your rendering of the Baby Boomer demographic:
  • Born post WWII – early 1960’s
  • Believes personal face-to-face interaction as the highest level of service
  • They will likely exit the workplace by 2021; significant experiential knowledge will leave with them
  • Typically a contrarian point of view on the long-term viability of technology which they interpret to suggest human knowledge and skills become less valuable than a “computer”
  • Will oppose change with a vengeance if they are asked to work differently
  • Transacts limited personal business online
"Typically a contrarian point of view on the long-term viability of technology which they interpret to suggest human knowledge and skills become less valuable than a “computer” - Boomer
And here are the characteristics of the Millenials, Gen “Y”:

  • Prefer the use of digital information and technology
  • Will represent more than 50% of the workforce in less than three years
  • Very team-oriented with less focus on personal recognition
  • Defining the use of text, chat, and social media as the primary communication medium
  • Transacts all personal business online and sees immediate accessibility and ability to self-serve as the highest level of service
  • First-generation to have internet since kindergarten
Mind the GAP, eh?

One specific and alleged challenge revolves around knowledge transfer.  It's thought by some since these two segments don't communicate, the collective Boomer knowledge base will be lost forever.

The Boomers believe it is the Millennials who need or want the knowledge that they, the Boomers, have between their ears.  They think their way of conducting business, administering quotas, designing cold call campaigns, and generally motivating through pay, is the only way to get things done.

And they worry the Millennials don't get it.

Think about it: How will the Millennials know how to answer emails?

Will they learn proper email etiquette? - this worries the Boomers...
If Millennials believe in the 'we all deserve a trophy' philosophy, what impact will competitive quotas and contests have on productivity? - "...the foundations of business will crumble...", the Boomers exclaim...

There's more:  If the two generations aren't talking, how will these youngins know how to evade responsibility or shift blame to a co-worker?  How will these young bucks learn the art of ejecting tens of thousands of employees?  Who will tell the generation after them, " good", "Always be closing..." or "Put that coffee down! Coffee is for closers..."??  

 The real burning question nobody wants to ask is:

    "Who says Millennials should act or think like Boomers, anyway?"
More importantly, SHOULD any generation feel compelled to follow in the Boomers' shadow?

How is it Boomers feel so entitled?

Boomer-Relevancy has slipped the surly bonds - The Andy Griffith age has passed.   Why care what they know when their experience and wisdom got us in the situations we're in today?  Indeed, how much can a Millennial, who is connected 24/7, learn from someone who reads his/her news 8 hours after it happens? Can a Boomer sales manager answer any specific question around selling as quickly as Google?

The Boomers may be the last paper generation.  Not because they all saved millions of trees; they are the last generation comfortable with consuming information at a snail's pace.

How Do Millennials figure into Print?

The gap we're observing could not be more illustrated than by the difference in how one generation uses paper and the other does not.  One generation believes paper is like stone, the other, if they even consider it at all, feels print is too slow.

Don't get me wrong, elders of every civilization possess collective wisdom - but that's nothing compared to having access to all the wisdom of all the generations of all current and past civilizations, a few thumb-strokes away.  I exaggerate, but you get the idea - how important can it be to pass on the art of buggy-whip manufacturing, when we all use Skype, WebEx, etc.?  Does anybody still use Morse code or programs in Fortran?

The 60's generation gap is not all that far from the current Boomer/Millennial void - one generation is raring to go the other is worried about going away - each thinks they know it all, and both are wrong.

Another similarity is music - these guys aren't Janis Joplin, but the generational angst is just as thick.

"Thank you for feeding us years of lies 
Thank you for the wars you left us to fight 
Thank you for the world you ruined overnight 
But we'll be fine, yeah we'll be fine..."

Special note:

Human-to-human communication is the root of growth and evolution.  The point here is entitlement. One generation is not "greater" than any other and all generations end up like the previous, only slightly enhanced.

But in the end, it's the personal contact that fuels innovation and propels us along.  Paper, glass, the internet, and quantum physics, these advancements will all lead us back to us.

How Millennial Are You?  Take this survey and find out.   Care to know more?  Check this.

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