In the Information Age, we look to a new generation to guide us: persons who are willing to disrupt traditional business models, move quickly, and think ‘out of the box’. Robert Safian defines them as “Generation Flux – a group of people best positioned to thrive in today’s era of high-velocity change”.[i] He makes the point that being part of this generation has nothing to do with age, but rather adaptability; though I think younger generations are more familiar with the latest technologies and have less dependencies. What is needed of ‘Generation Flux’?
Stamina. We have all heard the sleepless dedication stories of startups. An initial cadre works together around the clock in tight confines to develop and take a service to market. They work hundred hour weeks now for a huge future payoff. This was the case with Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Napster, Google, and countless other companies. In many of today’s company cultures, there is a blurry distinction between personal and professional time.
Tech savviness. Technologies are moving so fast, there is disruption happening in many areas; in other words, it is easier to start new than modify the old. (This is something Clay Christensen points out with the movement towards online learning; it is fundamentally different from the traditional education model, so requires a new perspective.)
Commitment. Young professionals delay getting married and having children to a later period in their life. Look at the recent perk offered by Apple and Facebook that allows female employees to freeze their eggs for later pregnancies.[ii] Because of fewer dependencies, it is easier to make a deep commitment with a company.
Empowered. They are engaged and want to lead. According to a global survey, nearly 7 out of 10 millennials say that “achieving a managerial or leadership role is important to their careers”.[iii] Whether they step into leadership right away or work towards it, Millennials want room for growth.
Influence. A powerful trend is having ‘rock stars’ at almost every company. Professionals create influence by building large followings in social media outlets, especially: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (LinkedIn has a mature audience with an average age of 44.)
Purpose. Willing to merge business, society and community interests as part of an overall strategy. Safian says: “(there are) a rising breed of business leaders who are animated not just by money but by the pursuit of a larger societal purpose.”
Creativeness. Being able to think of new, creative ideas is essential to fuel innovation. Much of our traditional education model is based on memorizing ‘facts and information’ and thinking in a confined rules based environment. Regardless, novel and adaptive thinking has become precious.
As we move away from a traditional business model, companies must adopt new ways of doing things to survive. In the book A World Gone Social, the authors say:
Burdened by a failure to adapt to this new environment, many have lost their footholds in the new business climate; some are already nearing extinction.[iv]
[iv] Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt (2014). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive. New York: AMACOM.