“By 2014 Generation Y will have grown to represent 50% of the global workforce!”

by Didier Marlier on Saturday May 7th, 2011

Type “2014 Generation Workplace” on Google and various reports and articles will appear about the fact that, in 2014, the Millennium Generation will represent around 50% of the workforce in the World. And soon after, the “Digital Natives” (also called “Z” or “C” for connected Generation) will enter the marketplace… My partners and I ended up choosing a young and overly bright 25 years old lady, Gabriela Jardim Rocha, to become our partner in São-Paulo as she is fully attuned to that phenomenon. She holds no undergraduate in Engineering or Business. Her former training is in journalism. Her Masters is in converging technologies, applied to social networks and multimedia. Such studies did not exist when I graduated from my MBA in 1988…

No doubts that this emerging workforce of overwhelming proportion is challenging our previous leadership orthodoxies. Our partners of ELP[1] ran, under the leadership of Berend-Jan Hilberts and Araz Najarian, an interesting project (www.2moro2dayproject.com), exploring the emergence of the “Open Source Economy” and its impact on strategy, organization and leadership.

In many respects, their findings echo the conclusions of the work I did for the Fundação Dom Cabral in 2010 with 14 Brazil based CEO’s; We had come-up with the G.R.A.V.I.T.A.S. (Generosity, Responsibility, Abundance principle, Value authentic, Interdependency, Trust, Authenticity and Sharing attitude) acronym to describe the new values which seem to radically redesign the competitive landscape. They came back with a pretty strong challenge to the orthodoxy of leadership under the format here below:

  • Compliance or trust?: increasing complexity makes it difficult to predict what can/will happen. “2.0 leaders” as they call them, will focus on co-creating clarity, meaning and ownership by their followers rather than on imposing compliance.
  • Authority or peers?: 1.0 leaders still live under the fallacious impression that authority is their license to operate. Peers opinion, peers’ review are a far more credible source to the Generation Y than authority or supposed specialists.
  • Broadcast or dialogue?: The famous Business Futurist Gerd Leonhard[2] is adamant about this: Advertisers and media who still operate under the broadcasting orthodoxy are on the way out. The present and future are about co-creation and dialogue.
  • Top down hierarchy or network?: Another tagline from Gerd is “From Directors to connectors”. Decision making, reflection are far more widespread in the nascent era of open source and crowd-sourcing than orders and “Do as you’re told”.
  • Individual expertise or collective wisdom?: as the seminal book from Surowiecki, “The Wisdom of Crowds”, shows, experts may shine under simple and complicated circumstances. When the environment becomes complex, collective wisdom is at a serious advantage.
  • Directive or self-organizing?: General Van Riper, several times quoted here, spectacularly demonstrated this by humiliating Donald Rumsfeld and his generals in history’s largest “Kriegspiel simulation”. Self organization functions better than directive styles under complex circumstances…
  • Planning or sensing?: Following the Cynefin model explained in a recent blog[3], if linearity, a certain level of predictability, cause & effect, planning are correct assumptions to operate in the simple and complicated contexts of the world, non linearity, uncertainty, trial and error, tolerance for ambiguity, observation are critical skills for leading in the complex or chaotic world.
  • Proprietary/undisclosed or open source/transparent?: Challenging the orthodoxy of the old world, Brazil is experimenting (and far from concluding) with a project of law (targeting only cultural I.P. rights for the moment) which would reverse the I.P. logic: Proprietary would be the exception and open source the rule… The interesting battle between Apple (highly successful whilst being a “closed” company) and Google (portraying itself as an “Open Source company” although there is an increasing questioning about this) is interesting to follow. Whatever degree it will reach, the Open Source phenomenon is profoundly changing the rules of the game. IT applies to leaders and their attitudes as well.

Such tables are of course from limited use and reality is for more open ended. But when reading their conclusions, I found this list made a lot of sense. I hope it will be the same for you.

On my way to Atlanta, have a great week all

Didier


[1] Executive Learning Partnership (www.elpnetwork.com)

[2] www.mediafuturist.com

[3]http://blog.enablersnetwork.com/2010/10/17/%E2%80%9Cconcrete-steps-to-lead-in-a-complex-environment-part-ii%E2%80%9D/

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2 Responses to ““By 2014 Generation Y will have grown to represent 50% of the global workforce!””

  1. Didier, thanks for quoting our work and putting a personal spin on our ‘leadership challenges’ list. We have started to think of companies that have successfully been able to expand their leadership repertoire beyond the traditional ‘command and control’ (to include both elements of the above mentioned challenges) as “Connected Companies”. For a bit more background on this topic and our associated research, your readers may want to read on here: http://bit.ly/lDylC5 and here: http://bit.ly/kIRs2J

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