Are we about to witness a ‘generation gap’ that’s just too big to bridge?
There’s a generation in the workplace that’s been there for quite a while. Let’s call it the Over 40’s club, or maybe the ‘Over 45’s Club’, whichever is right, the group are around that age. Now this large group of people has an awful lot of experience of business, they have gained a huge depth of knowledge about business and developed high skill levels.
They’ve all been trained, conditioned or educated (I’m not sure which and maybe it’s a mix of all 3) to do things in a certain way. This has come from the fact that the vast majority of this group of people have been through the corporate mill. The older they are (45+, 50+, 60+) then the higher their degree of formality in business (maybe life) and the stronger their belief in ‘the right way’. They’ve all picked up the ‘right way to do things’, the right language to use. Now, time to reveal, that I am in this club (Even if you chose to call it the ‘0ver 45 Club!) and I too went through corporate life experience.
However, in my view, business methodologies & processes haven’t really changed since the 1970′s. Technology has made everything faster, go to a few more decimal places, and facilitate deeper analysis. I guess, doing more efficiently and to a higher degree of complexity all the things that were done in the 70’s and 80’s, but not significantly different; not much genuinely new. Whenever I read yet another business book on ‘How to…..’ it’s nearly always possible to say “good luck to the author I hope they make some money from this, but you know, putting aside the fancy words, we used to do that at (in my case Mars) back in the ‘whatevers‘ but we called it xyz!”
Recently I came across a discussion, on a social network for business, that in one guise or another, I’ve seen on there a number of times in different discussion groups. But, always started by someone who is a member of the above club! It’s usually about spelling, grammar, planning etc.
Do you believe that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’ or do you think spontaneity creates more opportunity?
Now my first response was gentle enough I merely wanted to point out that the UK has become a nation of micro-business owners. Primarily driven by the fact that many people have lost their work and many young people haven’t ever been able to find any. So starting up your own and finding your own way has to a large degree been forced upon thousands. I contributed this to the discussion……
I believe that there are times when ‘getting on with things’ is best and times when a detailed activity plan assessing risks and result projections is necessary.
For many micro-business owners, it’s best to just get going, get a little experience, and get a customer or two before you plan too much. After all, if you don’t have a customer, surely you don’t yet have a business? Unfortunately, our tired, traditional and out-dated Banks still think they know best (if it ever did) and forces ‘start-ups’ to produce a detail business plan (that most will never refer to again) in order to gain financial support. One issue with this, is that if nothing else, they drive out of the people they think they’re helping, a lot of respect for the benefits of producing a plan.
Of course, I understand and agree that if we’d been talking about Small to Medium Enterprises and/or larger companies, planning is essential; it ensures good communication, along with a common understanding & purpose in the company.
The first response to my comment was this…..
I see the government start-up loan scheme for young people attracting budding entrepreneurs in to business who have not thought beyond ‘I set out my stall and I will make lots of money’. Even for start-ups there are some benefits to business plan if only to get them to think about cash flow, resource planning, costing, etc. They don’t listen or bother.
Can you see how, whilst being correct as a statement looking through the eyes of the group we’ve been discussing; it may not be correct if looking through the eyes of ‘young people’?
There is a change coming. Not an evolvement, not ‘a development of’ and not a shift.
There is a significant change coming.
It’s taking longer than we trend forecasters thought it might, because the ‘over 45 club’, the banks, the corporate world is resisting it well and more strongly than we expected them to. This club is insisting on trying to re-educate, re-shape ‘the change’ into the way it should be, has always been and even the ‘right way’.
That change is being driven by the under 25′s, in fact it is the under 25’s. Things will change even more rapidly and more radical when the current under 18′s come through. You see they think differently, I mean, radically differently. Their values are very different to anything we’ve experienced before; for the first time we have a generation coming through that is REALLY something new. They won’t be forced to do things ‘the right way’, they will do things their way because it fits their ethics, values and desires.
This group of young people value ‘owning things’ very little; they share and support each other significantly more than we ever did, or do. They consider the virtual world as real as the offline world. They ‘do’ things, review things, change and then ‘do’. Their style of communication frustrates the hell out of the ‘over 45′s club’ I’ve watched this happen in discussion groups time and time again. They speak, write & spell differently and don’t worry about things they don’t consider important.
I won’t go on; but ‘Business Planning’ as we know it is on its way out because …….. so is that ‘older persons club’! Business financing, ideas sharing/protection, work methods are all being completely re-invented. We just haven’t seen enough of it yet to realise it. But it’s happening and the over 30′s need to be aware of it and adapt to it – otherwise the market of the near future (the under 25′s now) won’t be trading with us, they’ll simply trade with each other………………….
Please leave me a comment, let me know your thoughts on this subject, your experiences and how your business is handling the prospect… or nnot! If you have any specific questions you can email me directly and now.