Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Generation 4.0

Margaret Lourie's presentation is focusing on the interactions between the four active generations currently working in libraries:
Traditionalists/Silent Generation
Baby Boomers (sometimes split into early and late Boomers)
Generation X
Generation Y/Millenials
A generation is defined as a group of people of roughly the same age.  Their shared experienced tend to both bond them with one another, and distance them from those of other generations.  Research has shown that each generation tends to have its own worldview, and that these views do not get outgrown.

Sociologist have traditionally marked generations about 20 years apart, but this standard is no longer of value.  On one side of the equation the length of time between when one generation gives birth to the next has increased, while on the other the time between shifting world views has decreased.

For older generations organizations had a top-down, very hierarchical structure with elders filling the top positions.  This has largely been done away with, with many people having supervisors younger than them.

There are many cuspers, those born on the dividing line between generations.  These people tend to have characterists of both generations and tend to be more capable of bridging the generation gap than others.

It must be noted that many characteristics from one generation will shape those of the next.

Traditionalists: 1925-1942; products of WWII, fiscally conservative, have faith in institutions, patriotic.  At work they like order and well defined rules, and may be uncomfortable around new technology and improper language.  They are accustomed to people working their way up the organizational ladder over time, and thus tended to stay with a single job over their careers.  They want to feel valued and appreciated at work.

Baby Boomers: In late 40's to mid 60's; products of age of political turmoil.  The act of work is an anchor and source of satisfaction.  They have a distrust of authority and tend to be competitive, status is critical.  They prefer a structured environment that they have input into. 

Generation X: 1961-1981; Eclectic, skeptical, high adaptive, independent, multi-taskers (or as some in the audience said just people with short attention spans).  Think work ought to be fun.

Generation Y: 1982-; work well with teams, enjoy challenges, want work to be worthwhile, impatient, comfortable with the speed of change, expect respect.  At work they want responsibility and to be noticed by their bosses.

Some quick points as the time begins to run out:

There is a perception that the younger generations are weaker than their elders because they have not been tested under situations as dire as those their elders found themselves in.

The toys people use are generational, but the need to have them crosses all generations.

The growth of e-mail has stagnated.

"Anything invented after the age of 35 is against the natural order"--Douglas Adams

Generation Y is currently the largest group of library users.

Margaret can be contacted for a copy of the presentation slides.

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