The 35 -50 the Lost Generation
Have you noticed how much is spoken and written about the “Netgeneration” and about the “Babyboomers” recently, all over the OECD? Yes for sure, you just can’t escape books, conferences, articles about them. But have you noticed how little is said about the one in between and in particular the 35 top 50? Actually it is sad because this forgotten generation is also in a difficult shape. I regularly test with my conferences or courses audiences how many of the participants are aware (and if possible participating) to Web2.0 locations like Facebook, Linkedin, YouTube, etc. The lowest rate is amongst this lost generation (my sample is mostly Europeans and is not statistically significative). I wondered why. I was also actually concerned several times at clients where we were implementing collaboration cultures, to see that the most importance resistance came from those people in this age bracket, and they were often amongst the most influential and internally powerful; they were the CFOs, the CIOs, the head of internal audit, etc. Then I understood something: they are scared of what the new technologies imply for them . And the reasons are simple: they were not born digital, far from it, and they don’t understand this digital world because they don”t have kids of the right age and they don’t have time to focus on the Internet development especially around the WEB 2.0 concepts; they are often insecure in their position and see change as a threat; they tend to work very hard and see any new “stuff” as one more constraint on their time, attention span, even week ends. And on top of it, they are supposed to know, because they are at positions of responsibilities, they have to lead teams, to manage the corporations in the middle of rough waters, with Babyboomer bosses on their backs and Netgenerations chasing them. Wouah, next time you see them, be kind to them.
How to cope with it? Probably with a lot of training, some reverse coaching as was done at the beginning of the Internet era for mail and navigation when the same problem occurred, a lot of reassurance that in any case even those who understand and use the tools are actually quite bad at understanding their social implications, etc.
If well managed the lost generation can become an important asset in this changing world, especially within the next five years while the Babyboomers will be a fast disappearing specie.