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A whole new mind space…

There’s a very new way of being in the world that comes with this latest generation to hit working age. There are some “good” aspects and “bad”. What would you like first?
Ok, figure out which list this is:
1. Literal minded. The first, middle and last thing we need to know about this group is that they have been raised digitally. One residue that I observe is that if it isn’t right in front of them and literally and obviously connected to what came before. In the guise of “politeness”, they will stand resolutely in front of the next obvious step that needs to be taken and ask permission or approval before taking that step. Some of it is hiding out, some of it is being trapped by restrictive mindset that militate against independent viewpoint and the intelligent exercise of discretion.
2. Non- observant. I wish I had a dollar for every van I pass with a sullen teenager hunched over thumbing a handheld while our remarkable world passes by. They are not looking around, they are looking down. If it doesn’t come on a screen, it is dismissed. They live in virtual reality.
3. Inclusive: These folks wouldn’t dream of discerning a difference in a person based on skin color, ethnicity or nationality. It just doesn’t compute with them. They’ve been raised in schools full of a melting pot of peoples and cannot see anything other than a potential friend, associate, partner, or enemy as individual circumstances warrant. When we speak in any terms of making other groups different or less than, that notion is just abhorrent to them.
4. Inside the box thinkers. See #1 above. If it’s in a device, then it is organized literally and logically. But each software domain is limited by what got put into it. If it isn’t in there, it isn’t on our subject’s mind. They stay within the domain and can dazzle inside the limits. But stepping out into independent territory that can’t be sourced on page 1 or at best 2 on google? Hopeless.
5. Great team players: In the schools these young have emerged from, collaborative work is the common core. In groups during classes, together on projects, they regard cooperation as the normal and natural thing to do. Conversely independent study, and, later, work is less reflexive.
6. They cheat: This is a hard one, but at a recent conference of education thinkers, the delegate from Yale speculated that 97% of college kids are cheating on assignments. They don’t do independent work of their own creation. They source another paper from somewhere in the vortex and serve it up as their own. The educators know – they have their ways of finding out. But they face tough dilemmas in policing. If they come down, chances are they will lose in a battle between themselves and a parent. A cowardly, politically correct administration is increasingly leaving them to swing.
7. Confident in expression of self: Unlike previous generations whose greatest fear was public speaking, standing up and speaking for self is nothing to these guys. They’ve been doing it from day one. They are articulate and unencumbered in the public eye. For us, I recall the Seinfeld joke: “So at the funeral, you’d rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy?”
8. Dependent. Whereas you and I were told “get a job” at as early an age as was conscionable for our parents, these guys haven’t been. Many have been helicopter parented with every turn discussed and directed. Others have been entirely neglected to rot in front of TV or video games without limitation. Either way, well, one girl having to head to her new school on her own called her mother. In Hong Kong. “What do you expect me to do? Look it up!”   The truth is the daughter expected what she’d always gotten. Complete guidance in every particular.
9. Easy in access and “figuring out”: When they watch us navigate around a digital landscape, it must look pathetic. They can’t even explain it to us because where they come from is such a different starting point. And the people who design the interfaces are their people.   Unfair to boomers! They just do it. They don’t stumble over this step and the next step. They just go there. I hate them for it. And they get around in cities in the same natural way. Obstacles for us are easy for them. What’s the fuss?
10. Indulged and catered to: So many things have been made available to them by parents and others because ….. we can. It’s hard to deny them something they covet because they and we know that there is no real reason they can’t have it. That latest cellphone? All my friends have it… What do we say? We cave because we can’t think of a good enough reason to stand up to the campaign to get it.
11. Handcuffed by the actual: See #1. Out in the real world there are physical realities like plumbing that, well, other people look after. Confronted with an overflowing bowl, many can only stand in baffled paralysis. Handy? Not. We forget how many lessons were conferred by simply working alongside others in laboring jobs or being with parents who took on projects like woodworking. We got to do it by trial and error with real hammers, shovels and guidance by those who were sometimes a little rough in their instruction. Nonetheless, there has not been much of this for the coming crew.
12. Environmentally sensitive and idealistic: This bunch cannot imagine a tradeoff that would involve degrading the natural world in any respect. Of course lots of it [degradation] is built in to our operational world but whereever that can be avoided it will be.
13. Short attention span: The idea of full day meetings is kind of tough for this crowd. They need to be entertained and activated frequently. They’ve had lives of increasingly outrageous images and stimulus coming at them full time. So devotion to tasks like reading long “boring” books requiring sustained concentration is difficult. But, as the record will show, lots graduate from law school and engineering so they must make it work somehow.
And making things right for the dispossessed and impoverished is another rich vein they will mine without prompting.

OK, so it’s a mix, and so are they. I’m writing this list so you can add to it. I am aware of the risks of generalization and the above is riddled with it.

We need to know the mindspace of those whom we will entrust work to. I have not dwelt on the care and feeding of these folks nor on the training and preparation that might be required to help them make their necessary transition to the working world. And they will make that move – as have hundreds of generations before them.

Very best for summer,
Doug Bouey

P.S. I’m really going to catch it from Jane and Evan for this one!

Doug Bouey
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

What’s Our Business?

Bringing out the best in you, your company and your people.

Doug Bouey, President
Catalyst Strategic Consultants Ltd.

Calgary, AB // Phone: 403.777.1144


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