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Why don’t we always understand people younger or older than ourselves?


That was the question addressed by ‘futurologist and thought provocateur’ Dean van Leeuwen of TomorrowToday at IoIC Live 2015.

Rather than show stats and bar graphs he used humorous videos from Ali G interviewing Sir Rhodes Boyson about “being caned” to Monty Python’s four Yorkshiremen talking about “growing up in a shoebox in middle of t’ road”.

“Psychologists say your values system is largely in place by the age of 12,” warned Dean (pictured right), adding: “Teenagers then challenge those values but by the 20s we take our values system with us as a road map to live our lives by.”

He said TomorrowToday’s research showed that there was huge cultural change every 80 years with four ‘seasons’ of 20 years along the way, which explained the current generations.


Silent Generation


Born in the 1930s and 1940s and two defining moments in their lives are the Great depression and World War II.

Values: sacrifice, hard work, sticking to the task, duty before pleasure, waste not want not, averse to debt.

Baby Boomers


Born in the 1950s and 1960s and influenced by rock n’roll, television and the moon landing, giving them an attitutde of ‘If we can do that, we can do anything’.

Values: self-expression, media savvy, big talkers, workaholics, live life on credit. They invented the ‘corporate away day’ and are the only generation who pretend to understand the difference between an organisations ‘vision’ and ‘mission’.

“This generation aren’t going away, they run our businesses and they control 75% of the world’s wealth,” said Dean.

“But they need to know that to younger generations man has always walked on the moon, ‘You sound like a broken record’ means nothing, they’ve never known a time without AIDS, they don’t know what a miner is let alone the miners’ strike and for them Michael Jackson was always white…”

Generation X


Born in the 1970s and 1980s

Values: change, global awareness, techno literacy, immediate gratification.

“If change means chaos to other generations, they don’t mind, they’ll create chaos,” said Dean.

“They learnt at a very young age that the system will not provide. If you want loyalty…get a dog, because this generation saw their parents made redundant by corporations they had served all their lives.

“They recognise that the world is constantly changing and will mve from one concept to the next so they don’t get left behind.”

Generation Y


Born in the 1990s and 2000s.

They bulk of the future workforce are ‘digital natives’.

“This generation is so confident they come across as arrogant and that comes from being the ‘chief technical officers’ in their homes – it’s the first generation where they teach their elders rather than the other way round,” explained Dean.

“They’ve also seen people form their own generation create hugely successful companies – they think if you’re good enough, you should run the company.”

Values: optimism, confidence, diversity, ethical consideration, networking.

Five tips for communicating with Generation Y


1) Purpose – what is your company’s purpose? What do you stand for? It’s not a vision or a mission, it’s the difference you’re making to society. They want to get out of bed every morning and feel they’re making a difference.

2) Get technology right – they’ve grown up with every single piece of information they need available to them at any time. They want to know that communication goes across all mediums

3) Access to senior leaders – they want to know what leaders are thinking, but it’s not about being communicated to, they want two-way dialogue.

4) Why? You can’t just tell them what has happened, you need to explain why.

5) Fun – have some fun. This generation’s greatest criticism of older generations is that we’re too serious in the workplace.

“We may have been living in the same house or working in the same office as these people, but we have been living in different worlds,” he concluded.
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