If this is the age of conversation, it is also an age in which the study of generational habits and demographics for marketing purposes has increased.
Yet, many studies fail to recognize two main factors that are impacting business:
(1) size matters - populations trends have not been taken into consideration when looking at scaling businesses.
There are considerably less Gen-X people than Boomers. There will be many more Gen-Y even than Boomers. What does this mean? The infrastructure and mind-set of many organizations are not ready to deal with this reality.
As Boomers retire, there will not be enough Gen-X people to fill their SUVs. And as we experience the dip in services and products needed to satisfy a smaller generation, the following one, Gen-Y is coming up with its own set of requirements for what it wants and needs. If you'd like to do a deeper dive into specific case studies and examples, you might consider taking a look at The Age Curve by Ken Gronbach.
If the majority of Gen-X (my generation) is undergoing a period of reexamination of the web of relationships that comprise the social whole - with a rejection of those that do not fit the individual identity - every generation is experiencing a return to its core values at the moment.
This is due to the major forces of conservation - the need of which is becoming apparent after more than 10 years spent on conversation - and change. Conservation is not a trend anymore, it has become a necessity. As Joel Makeower reports, the deteriorating ecosystems, burst asset bubbles, burdensome debt, infrastructure bottlenecks, and billions of people with unmet needs, or who were left behind during the growth years have brought about change.
This change is becoming a business imperative. If you're still not convinced that your context has changed, think about the implications of the intent and purpose that have inspired the support for a new government. No company is prepared for the changes that need to be made. Are we prepared?
As Geoff Livingston noted, Gen-X is making some strides in influencing online (and off line) conversations - many of the professionals I learn with belong to this generation. In addition to Geoff, Brian Clark, Lee Odden, Chris Brogan, David Armano, Brian Solis, and many more are helping transform the way we think about business in this new age. We have embraced technology, on our terms.
While Gartner and Forrester are busy with their own definitions and ladders of participation, the rest of us is well on its way to asking more fundamental questions. When Dan Pink wrote A Whole New Mind, he presented six aptitudes that are highly subjective, socially- and culturally-dependent. In his view:
- Design is an asset above function.
- Story is an asset above argument.
- Symphony is an asset above focus.
- Empathy is an asset above logic.
- Play is an asset above seriousness, and
- Meaning is an asset above accumulation.
In the age of conversation, the main focus of our work and interactions may well boil down to one fundamental question - "why?"
[mind map courtesy of Steve Richards]