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Today’s youth: cleaner living, wholesome hobbies, socially conservative… Research

September 26, 2014 Graeme Codrington Future Trends, Generation X and Y, Generations, Parenting No Comments
Today’s youth: cleaner living, wholesome hobbies, socially conservative… Research

For over a decade now, we have been using our understanding of generational cycles to predict that today’s youth and young adults were likely to respond to social change by becoming more socially conservative. This would include reductions in hard drug use, reductions in anti-social behaviour, a more caring attitude towards to environment and generally more wholesome living.

The drug, sex and rock n roll fuelled young adulthood that many Boomers remember from the 1960s and 70s, and that Xers re-enacted in the 1990s, would be replaced by a very different looking generation.

Well, all around the world social science is showing that this is in fact happening. A recent article in The Telegraph went so far as to call them “Generation Yawn”. It’s actually an excellent article with great research to back it up. And I think you’ll be both amazed and uplifted by the information. Read it here.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. And all of life lives on normalised bell curves. So I am sure you know of a few very anti-social youths. But, in general, what is your experience of today’s young people? Does The Telegraph’s research ring true for you?

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Meet Gen Y: Five videos, ten minutes and a lot of insight

Meet Gen Y: Five videos, ten minutes and a lot of insight

Raymond de Villiers is TomorrowToday’s Gen Y guru. He works hard to understand today’s young people, and then make sense of them for you and me and our businesses. He’s packaged some of his insights into short “thought bullet” videos that I am sure will be valuable to you. Here are a few of my favourites (if you can’t see the videos embedded, just click the titles for a link to YouTube):

Meet Gen Y, and the two key forces that have shaped their world, and them:

Here’s a slightly longer extract of an hour long talk Raymond did recently on generations, in which he introduced Gen Y:

My favourite label for this generation actually helps to make sense of them: Digital Natives:

… Continue Reading

The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

March 24, 2014 Graeme Codrington Generation X and Y, Generations, Talent, Video No Comments
The Potential – and Problems – of Being Generation X

Generation Xers are becoming middle aged. And some of them are not doing it in style. They’re also causing some chaos in their workplaces with their emphasis on family, flexibility and their own goals above those of their companies. In this brief video, I outline some of the potential – and problems – of being a Gen Xer:

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Five secrets for engaging and retaining Gen Y talent

February 5, 2014 Dean van Leeuwen Generation X and Y, Generations, Talent, The workplace No Comments
Five secrets for engaging and retaining Gen Y talent

Studies show that the current crop of Gen Y talent,  will have had up to 12 different jobs and the majority of Gen Y professional graduates  (doctors, engineers, architects lawyers etc.) will no longer be working in their chosen career of study having had up to three career changes. Overall ninety-one percent of Gen Y’s expect to stay in a job for less than three years

All this job hopping madness means big headaches for talent managers and heads of HR after all  losing an employee after a year or two, means wasting precious time and resources on training and development,  before that investment pays off. Our research at TomorrowToday has identified five things your company can do to attract and retain top Gen Y talent. Our work around the world and engagement with thousands of senior leaders every years enables us to gain an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of this job-hopping “slacker” generation and we always dive deep when we discover a company that is keeping both Gen Y and Gen X talent for seven years or more. Here are the secrets to keeping and engaging Gen Y talent:

1) Forget vision and mission. What is your quest? Story-telling is increasingly important leadership skill and Gen Y want to know the story behind what your company really stands for.  If they are going to spend the majority of their waking lives working for you, what they do and what the company does has to be meaningful in a broader more societal context.

Now most businesses have a vision or mission that looks something like this:

To be the leader…selling the best…delivering  outstanding service… commitment to profit maximisation to our shareholders…being the most efficient in everyth… blah blah blah blah blah  YAWN!

At which stage you have bored every Gen Y employee to death and they have already redeployed their curriculum vitae. However, If you want to capture the mind, heart and engagement of talented Gen Y you need to appeal to their sense of spirit, their sense of adventure and most importantly their cohort’s driving sense of contributing to causes that have meaning in the world.

As the French adventurer and novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupery said:

“If you want to build a flotilla of ships, you don’t sit around talking about carpentry. No, you need to set people’s souls ablaze with visions of exploring distant shores.”

… Continue Reading

Learning is changing – and businesses will need to change too

Education chalkboardThere is a pattern to the disruption of industries – change happens slowly, with a few early-adopters taking a technology and innovating, but not always in the optimum way.  Then it happens quickly – and a whole industry can come tumbling down.  Take digital music, which had been around a few years before Apple took the technology, reached the masses and brought the music industry to its knees. The same happened with digital photography – which gained an early foothold, but not until the smartphone came along did consumer behaviour completely change in a way that the photographic industry failed to predict.

Massive open online courses (MOOCS) will disrupt university education. Distance learning courses have been around for years, and have a particularly strong history in the UK, with the Open University founded back in 1969. But only now is there a convergence of trends that will cause an explosion in online education and change our university system forever.  The recession has hit middle-class parents hard and low income families harder, right at a time when university fees are rising. Technology has raced on, to the point where institutions can deliver a sophisticated degree programme at a fraction of the cost of a traditional degree.

Coursera partners with 62 Universities from 14 countries to deliver free online education to anyone who wants it. In only a year it has attracted 3.2 million global users and, earlier this year, has had 5 of its courses given college degree status.

Udacity has a similar mission to deliver high quality, low cost education. Founded by Google X founder Sebastian Thrun, it is a heavy-hitting entrant to the educational space and has recently collaborated with the Georgia Institute of Technology to launch an Online Master of Computer Science degree that is making US Universities twitchy.  As Time Magazine says “Georgia Tech’s announcement….is a game changer that will have other top-tier universities that offer degrees in computer science scrambling to compete.”

In the next few years, universities will have to demonstrate that their on-campus offer really delivers an education and experience beyond that which online courses can deliver. The danger will be that only the wealthy can afford them. An earlier, bigger, danger is a massive negative economic impact for those universities who are behind the curve or don’t have the ‘name’ or financial backing as high end degrees become more accessible through online learning. We will surely see many smaller and less prestigious universities disappear within the next 20 years.

The combination of this disruption to the education system with the increasing automation of knowledge careers and the influence of the value system of Generation X mean that the traditional campus-based university degree may return to a position where only the very academic or wealthy few will make the investment.

Generation X parents have been hit hard by the recession.  They are relatively happy with risk and will be seeing and living the changing nature of education and work. They won’t the feel the need to encourage their children to go make a huge investment in a campus degree if there is no clear benefit.  Even if their family is wealthy enough to afford it, Generation Z may well agree with their parents that the money is better used to fund online learning, a deposit for a flat, or invest in a business idea.  Entrepreunership will become a career-choice in itself.

The impact on business will be that employers will have to look harder for talent.  Or at least, the relatively straightforward ‘milk round’ will no longer be a viable source of candidates, as graduates will be not be gathered in number in central locations.  On the other hand, there will be more graduates from prestigious universities as they reach a larger online student body, so employers will need to find new ways of differentiating between them.  Many of the brightest young people may not even be graduates. The whole landscape will change and businesses will have to reshape around it in order to manage diverse streams of candidates. The “one size fits all” graduate programme is likely to become a thing of the past as businesses are forced to integrate new young employees from many different attainment backgrounds – and those employees expect an individualised career path tailored to their talents and objectives.

It’s a lot of change and it will be a challenging transition.  But businesses and employees alike will gain a huge amount from the better recognition and understanding of the diversity of talents, backgrounds and life goals that are the reality of human existence, and not always fully represented by a college degree.


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Generation Jobless: A warning to us all

The April 27th Economist ran a cover story about the ‘generation jobless’ – the global rise of youth unemployment. It is a serious concern for a number of reasons and one that could have long-lasting implications for both the global economy and political stability.

Generation Jobless coverGen Y was the hardest hit by the recession that began in 2008 and kicked up a gear in the following years. The ‘last in – first out’ hiring / firing principle meant that the ‘new kids on the block’ had to go when things became tough and belts were either tightened or taken away altogether. This was a generation that had only just arrived bright eyed and bushy tailed in the work environment only to be told there was no place for them. It was a generation determined to make their mark, to make a real difference and they were more than up for the challenge of restoring some sort of global and environmental equilibrium. In this regard they were unlike their predecessors – Gen X and although these are sweeping generational generalisations, the difference between Gen X and Gen Y in this regard is marked. Armed with such enthusiasm – and some would say naivety, meeting in a head-on collision with the recession and its subsequent job cuts, and general economic meltdown has put this generation into an economic tailspin. It will have a devastating impact on their overall perspective and long-term view. The depression that accompanies being without work will impact on this generation more than most. Exactly how this will play out – a greater distrust for the ‘institution’ and for national politics to name but two things, is hard to predict. But put yourself in their shoes and ask how can it not have enormous consequences?

The other concern is that an unhappy, disempowered populace – especially one with youth and energy on their side, fuels social revolutions. Add into that volatile mix the connectivity this generation enjoy through social media and you have all the raw ingredients of social upheaval. The Arab Spring and London riots being recent examples of what can happen when these forces converge into a ‘perfect storm’.

South Africa’s biggest risk is a future of large numbers of unemployed youth. This is a slight twist on what has taken place in Europe but the inherent risks remain the same with the similarity in both context and conditions. We will save our future in South Africa through sound education today – and this assumes an education specifically shaped to ensure that the youth emerging from the educational system are employable. Currently we are failing in meeting this challenge.

These broad concerns speak to demographic issues that are like rising damp in a wall: easy to ignore and gloss over, until it is too late. And like any demographic issues that take time to reach their boiling point, so it takes time for any viable solution to be felt.

‘Generation Jobless’…it is a headline that is chilling in it’s implications and one that serves as a stark warning to us all. Exactly what to do about it is less simple, but ignoring it, certainly isn’t an option.

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Building innovative companies using the powerful disruptive force of the Connected Generation (Part 1)

Building innovative companies using the powerful disruptive force of the Connected Generation (Part 1)

Competitive dynamics are shifting and the rules for success and failure are being rewritten across almost every industry and every business function. Exciting new innovative business models are emerging every day and you don’t have to be a fresh upstart to be a leading innovator. A recent study by Fast Company on the most innovative companies for 2013 shows that established companies Nike, Amazon, Safaricom and Target (the latter was founded over 110 years ago!), make up part of the Top 10 most innovative companies. However, the study also reveals that being legacy free helps as six relative newbies: Square; Splunk, Fab, Uber, Sproxil and Pinterest; capture the other top ten places and in doing so lay claim to the accolades that go with being a leading and successfully disruptive company.

These top ten innovative companies have two things in common; an overwhelming desire to disrupt their competitors by re-imagining the ways things are done and, they are also guided and driven by leaders who come from what we at TomorrowToday call the Connection Generation.

The Connection Generation is a cohort of innovation vanguards and change agents. As a rule of thumb, they were born sometime from the mid to late 1980’s until the early 2000’s and subsequently lived their adolescent years after 1995 growing up just as personal computers started to become ubiquitous in everyday life. This generation has been connected, communicating, content-centric, computerised, community-oriented, and continually clicking since they can remember. However, being a member of the Connection Generation is attitudinal factor rather than entirely age related, as we shall see later.

Astute companies are recognising the importance of creating a workplace that attracts and inspires talented members of the Connection Generation. By 2020, across the United States, Europe and the BRIC countries, this generation will make up 40 percent of the population and by then, they will constitute the largest single cohort of consumers and employees worldwide.

Business leaders take note, this generation is already rewriting the rules for success and failure and will be one of the greatest forces for disruption and empowerment the world of work has ever known. They are unhindered by preconceived notions of how things should be done, and their digitised view of the world ensures that they can imagine entirely new ways of doing things. We predict that this generation will drive changes in the world of work that will have as far reaching an impact as the industrial revolution had 200 years ago.

To support this claim we share with you, in Part 1 of this two series article, how the rules for competitive advantage have changed and why. In Part 2 we show why these changes in competitive advantage play naturally into the hands of the Connection Generation and in doing so we also provide you with a framework and new business script for building a competitive advantage in an era of turbulent change.

… Continue Reading

Podcast: The Customer Experience Show – Secrets of Successful Multi-Generational Work Cultures

Podcast: The Customer Experience Show – Secrets of Successful Multi-Generational Work Cultures

Dean and myself were interviewed by Michelle Romanica on the Customer Experience Show on Blogtalk Radio. It was a great show, with some fascinating insights into multi-generational workplaces.

The blurb of the show says:

In their work, Graeme Codrington and Dean van Leeuwen have conducted extensive research, working to address the emerging issue of generational differences that can cause problems in the workplace today. Graeme and Dean have worked to bridge this gap in theory, implementing it in practice in many companies. Anna Elwood, Director of Operations, was one of ZocDoc’s early employees who helped shape this company. ZocDoc has seen a work model emerge naturally; one that focused on the uniqueness of generational needs rather than focusing on differences to “divide and conquer”. It works on principles that demonstrate Graeme and Dean are not talking about “pie in the sky”. Here is a company that is practicing what it takes to “bridge the gap” and succeed together.

Listen to internet radio with Customer Experience on Blog Talk Radio
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The Kids Aren’t Playing Around Anymore

The Kids Aren’t Playing Around Anymore

For a few years now, our researchers at TomorrowToday have been predicting what Generation Y might do when they grow up. This generation was first dubbed “The Millennials” by Neil Howe and William Strauss (see this book, for example), and were defined as the generation who would graduate High School in the new millennium (born from 1984 to 2000). Our team, who look more globally rather than simply at American culture, suggest that they are best defined as the generation born after 1989. We’ve also called them the “Digital Natives” as they have lived their whole lives with text messages, emails and the world wide web.

However you define them, the oldest of them is now in their mid twenties. With an education behind them, and those character defining young adult years in full swing, we’re finally seeing what we’ve been predicting for some time: this generation is going to be a generation that is civic minded, activist, take-no-nonsense and will work together to activate their communities for causes they believe in.

All around the world, we’re seeing evidence of this. The #occupy movements that started in New York, spread across the US and into Europe were a start. Yes, they might not have had their goals and aims sorted out clearly at the start, and didn’t have the Boomer-savvy to make a huge impact, but they nevertheless got a generation onto the streets and chanting about something. Secretly, I believe, most Baby Boomers were actually quite happy to see this. For most of the last two decades, Generation X (born in the 1970s and early 80s) have been a “whatever” generation, too pragmatic to get too worked up about anything, and certainly not idealistic enough to hit the streets in protest. The great protests of the 1960s were becoming a distant memory, especially for American Boomers. But now the kids have started it up again.

In some parts of the world has been more than just a mild nuisance. The Arab Spring last year saw revolutionary change sweep across North Africa and the Middle East. The youth in Iran are bubbling and waiting for an opportunity to make more of their “Green” revolution. We see this all over the world, actually. Young people rioted in London last August. There have been almost constant marches in Spain by young people desperate to find employment. These are not games these kids are playing now.

… Continue Reading

Video: Digital natives of 1989 entering the world of work

November 17, 2012 Graeme Codrington Future Trends, Generation X and Y, Generations, Video No Comments

One of the biggest causes of disruptive change in the world right now is the combination of a radical increase in computing power and the arrival of the digital natives in the workplace.


This video of Graeme Codrington was recorded by our good friends at Your Business Channel as part of their ongoing work to capture the best business insights in video format. See more video at our TomorrowToday TV channel.

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‘Mind the Gap’ is now available in Kindle

‘Mind the Gap’ is now available in Kindle

My award winning and best selling book, “Mind the Gap” has just been released in electronic format and is now available in Kindle and other e-pub formats.

My publisher, Penguin, has finally completed a worldwide deal with Amazon to release all Penguin titles on Kindle and is also now releasing its full back catalogue in e-format. This has taken too long, but it’s brilliant news now that it’s finally happened. The process will probably take a few months to complete.

It’s great news for me, as my books are now available in 21st century formats.

‘Mind the Gap’ is my best selling book about understanding different generations. I completed a major update and revision in November 2011, and this is the book now available in Kindle. Penguin have also priced it very well at half the price of the paperback. You can now buy it from Amazon.co.uk.

My other books are also available.

‘Future-Proof Your Child’ is for parents of pre-teen children, to help them parent a wired generation of kids into a bright future. Buy it on Amazon.co.uk Kindle here.

‘Navigating Your Career’ is for anyone still working or about to start working, and presents five steps to building a career in a new world of work. Buy it at Amazon.co.uk Kindle here.

At last, I can feel part of the 21st century as an author.

If you’ve been waiting for the e-versions of my books, I hope you enjoy them. Looking forward to your feedback and comments.

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Podcast: Introducing the generations and an Updated ‘Mind the Gap’

Podcast: Introducing the generations and an Updated ‘Mind the Gap’

I have spent the last two weeks in South Africa, promoting my new book, ‘Navigating Your Career’ and the updated edition of my best selling book, “Mind the Gap” (see details and purchasing options here).

As part of this tour, I did a number of media interviews. One of them was a half hour with my original co-author of ‘Mind the Gap’, Sue Grant-Marshall, who now hosts a book show on Radio Today. This is now available as a podcast here.

You’ll hear an overview of the different generations, and a discussion on why understanding the value systems of those older and younger than yourself is so important in every aspect of your life.


I’d love to hear your feedback here.

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Primary Blog contributors

The main contributors to this blog are:

Dr Graeme Codrington, co-founder of TomorrowToday, author, speaker and expert on the changing world of work
Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventurer
Keith Coats, co-founder of TomorrowToday South Africa, leadership development guru, speaker and author
Professor Nick Barker, director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program at the East-West Center in Hawaii, leadership development expert
Markus Kramer, marketing director for Aston Martin and brand building expert
Keith Holdt, Visionary Enabler of business growth and change, currently works for LDC as an investment executive.
Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School; Executive education specialist.
Dawna MacLean, expert on fostering meaningful change and creating authentic experiences through transparent and trusted partnerships.

Click here for a full list of contributors

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