The Organisational Impact of Generation Y?

An interesting debate, here, on the thoughts and potential impact of Generation Y upon organisations, sparked by this post from Vineet Nayar

Nayar asserts that the passionate, questioning, social-media enabled millennial generation has the potential to radically alter how organisations operate.  Many of the comments question, effectively, why this generation should be so very different from the generations before: were we not all passionate and questioning, fresh-faced from our educational burnishing?

I tend to agree that terms like “Generation Y” (or Millennials or Facebook Generation) tend to over-simplify a complex situation but I also believe that there is a difference.  The difference is that this generation are the first true digital natives, citizens by birth of the information age who have grown up fearless of technology and with little tolerance of technical limitations and shortcomings.  As a consequence of this, and also – let’s not forget – having been educated (for better or worse) by the once anti-establishment baby-boomer generation, Generation Y does have a different approach to collaborating, to communicating and to thinking.

The more interesting question is how will these characteristics mature in the face of the “real world of work”?  Will these ideals stand the test of the demands of work, or will they be tempered, crushed even, by the wheels of information age industry?  The potential for change, when coupled by the confluence of other factors – economic, environmental, demographic and technological – is enormous. 

Some of these issues were addressed in the Hybrid Organisation thinking which Microsoft published last year, especially in this paper written by Professor Michael Hulme.

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