The following are broad generalizations. No doubt anyone reading this can come up with a dozen examples of individuals, organizations or examples that do not fit these stereotypes. I will separate the two groups into the categories pre-CD and post-CD. There is actually a third group which needs further thought; post-iPod.
Those born pre-CD (compact disk) generally;
· resist change, definitely don’t like fast change
· believe reports are critical
· gut feelings are sometimes followed, but usually suppressed
· communication and marketing equates to printed materials, booths at conferences, commercials, advertisement on other websites, mass email (spam), and usually an attempt at a high-quality website for their organization
· Work begins at 8am ends at 5pm with an hour lunch; please don’t bother me after hours
A big difference is numerous hours will be spent building a plan. Usually the plan is developed by a small group of people (highly trusted by the boss). Once complete, the plan (book, document, vision, insert traditional concepts here) will be executed or published. Here is the big difference. Any comments that are provided (even by constituents or customers) are viewed as attacks that must be defended. Furthermore, the attack is ignored, combated, or squashed. The plan must be fully executed, sometimes even to the demise of the organization. This effort requires time and money. Often times the plan is out of date before its implementation begins. Remember, change is happening daily.
---Remember, these are generalizations---
Those born post-CD generally;
· embrace change, look for change, wait in lines to get change, and most importantly expect change
· do not rely on reports, but do like to perform quick analysis
· quick to follow gut feeling, and quick to drop ideas that don’t show success
· communication and marketing equates to interacting with people online via numerous mechanisms, resist the commercial feeling, relationship first, service if needed
· Work doesn’t really begin or end, but can be done anywhere anytime and did I mention they really enjoy working
In contrast to those born pre-CD this group will spend little time on a plan. They will execute a half baked idea (this effort is a perfect example) and see if people comment or provide input. Commenting on the idea is viewed as a positive thing. Lack of comments equates to the post-CD crowd a lack of interest. So, if no one comments on this site I will surmise this was not useful and I will abandon it. The difference is I will have invested little time and no money to see if this is useful. Paraphrasing from Jeff Jarvis book, What Would Google Do- it is ok to fail because you learn something when you fail, but fail fast. Side note- because Mr. Jarvis understands the change, he will not be upset if I didn’t get the above right. He won’t sue me; he or someone who has read his literature will just correct me below. In fact, I imagine Mr. Jarvis would be glad I mentioned the book and appreciate the link.
Did you catch the subtle difference? Change is good, comments are good, failing is ok, fail fast. Why are comments and interaction on any of the numerous social media tools, blogs or wikis enable a dialogue and encourage collaboration. It would be an honor if 20 folks commented on this site and it was all integrated. No doubt many could expand on the ideas and make it better. I would view this as a very good thing.
Also worth mentioning, the 8-5 job is not too attractive to post-CDers. That one really freaks out the pre-CDers. The best way to explain this one is with a story. Jim generally works in an office (or home) 8am-5pm, but there are a number of days when he might run errands throughout the day, attend his kids events, or not be physically in the office. How? The mobile device enables him to leave the desk. Because Jim enjoys his work and is friends with those he works with; he is generally interacting with them after 5pm. This leads to more dialogue and relationship building. Jim even responds to work email, visits blogs, checks his tweets , or Facebook after 5pm. Jim does these things on the weekends as well. Does Jim have a life? Yes, he just has the flexibility to work from anywhere anytime. Obviously this type of work schedule cannot be maintained by everyone in an organization. Maybe not today, but it will be interesting to see what the future holds. Jim makes a good employee. 1) he is happy, 2) he is available (also known as connected), 3) he is trustworthy. Yes trust is everything in this environment.
I just lost a few of you so let me back up a second. Think of all the various government services you can do on-line after hours (after 4:30 and on weekends). Many of those services only became available in the last five years. The old phrase was digital vs. brick and mortar. Now imagine you could actually interact with a government (or business) employee anytime you wanted. You have read this far, don’t stop now.
It is unclear how the post-iPod era will fit into this whole mix. One thing is for sure; change won’t be expected change, it will just be part of life. My nine year old does not understand dial-up and often questions why I have to fly somewhere for a meeting. “Why can’t you just video conference? Then you could be home for dinner.” My nine year old doesn’t think about social media, web 2.0 or other “new” things being new. They just are, they don’t need a word or a term or even a session at a conference. My nine year old is not interacting with the government much and has little impact on the economy right now so there’s still time, maybe.