I was honored to be a part of the Institute for Emerging Issues forum on Generation Z this week.
The Institute for Emerging Issues serves an important role in North Carolina, bringing people together to ensure North Carolina’s competitiveness on the global stage moving forward. Unlike many policy organizations, it does not merely sequester academics in a dusty room and speak in theory.
Every single person I spoke with walked away from the conference feeling optimistic about the future of North Carolina. The fact that 1.5 million North Carolinians are part of a generation that is more tech savvy, globally aware, giving and diverse than any that came before it is a sign that the future is bright.
The other realization for many at the forum was that the new world of interconnectivity and community isn’t a fad, but the direction in which the world is heading.
Robert Safian of Fast Company was the headline speaker on day one.He drove this realization home as he showcased many compelling statistics, case studies, and stories. Safian calls the generation we are living in “Generation Flux” and he made that clear as he showcased how, “chaotic disruption runs rampant, not simply from the likes of Apple, Facebook, and Google.”
The timeline for big, dramatic change is moving much faster than it has ever been. One glaring example is the global smartphone market. Safian noted in his keynote that Nokia, RIM, and Motorola completely dominated the market five years ago, while today Samsung and Apple are the absolute leaders.
No one would have predicted this change.
Nor would anyone have predicted that daily deals (e.g. Groupon) would take the world by storm, Zynga would become a billion dollar business built on social media games, AirBnB would become a credible option for vacationers to locate their next stop, or that Twitter would launch revolutions.
Safian noted that the seeds for this transformation were planted during the dot.com cycle of the late 90’s that went from boom to bubble rapidly. Fast Company was but one of dozens of magazines launched to cover this period in time.
In fact, Fast Company launched with the headline, “Work Is Personal. Computing Is Social. Knowledge Is Power.”
Some wrote off that cover—and sentiment—as a symptom of dot.com hysteria. What is clear today, however, is that they were right… about ten years too soon.
It would be easy to say that we are in just another bubble as social networking startups become large, publicly-traded companies. But, as Safian made clear, unlike last time these companies are producing billions in revenue.
And, as he indicated, the success, or failure, of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and others is irrelevant to the change that the world is going through.
Generation Flux isn’t going away, regardless of what happens to the companies that drive it. The entire world is being disrupted at a greater rate than ever before and organizations must adapt to thrive in an environment of continuous reinvention and rapid change.
Fortunately the future work force, the one comprised of Generation Z, is prepared to thrive in this environment.
The question that remains is whether or not the rest of us can thrive in it. Safian said that Generation Flux isn’t an age, but an attitude. Those organizations who can rise to the challenge in the midst of chaos, change, and disruption will win the day.
Is your organization one that can win the day in Generation Flux? We would love to hear about it.