“ Gen Edge? Another name for Millennials? ”
“Wait. I have to adjust to another generation? I was just getting to know the Millennials!” Yep.
In 2005, I began speaking on the generations. At first, much of my research and findings centered on the Millennials (aka Gen Y). My original presentation was titled The Perfect Storm (for the 2000 film starring George Clooney) because we were seeing signs of a dramatic shift: in technologies, personal drivers, and globalization. This shift, I believed, would require leaders to adapt their management approaches and styles to leverage this transformation. As I shared extensive research on the generations, I sought to dispel inaccurate stereotypes and to convey a deeper understanding of each. I wanted to give real applications to address these changes, beyond just the definitions.
But, the Millennials were just the warning sign. Generational researchers William Strauss and Neil Howe (see The Fourth Turning) note that generations come in sets of four, with the Millennials being the 4th in that set (Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials). We are at a “turning”, and that new generation is Gen Edge. Also known as Gen Z (which I find to be a boring title) and “Digital Natives” (due to being the first generation raised on social media and smartphones), the Gen Edge moniker appears to be the most popular. It denotes their end of the alphabet (Z), the new turning, and as some have proclaimed either the “edge of the new world” (glass half full) or the “edge of the end of the world” (glass half empty). I prefer the optimistic view. And I happen to find Gen Edge of even more interest because I am a Dad to three of them.
Born in 1995 and after, Gen Edge members are beginning to enter the workplace. And as I watch my three sons, all born in this time, grow and evolve, I am filled with much hope and wonder. To me, this generation will tip us into the new world—one, I imagine, filled with teleporters, renewable energy sources, and space travel. Star Trek, essentially, a new frontier.
[bctt tweet=”Gen Edge will tip us into the new world. @billfournet #GenEdge” username=”@persimmongroup”]
Over the course of my next posts, I will share some of the initial perceptions and findings regarding Gen Edge. To kick us off, here are 3 quick things to know about them:
- Gen Edge views technology (and social media) not to define who they are, but rather to enable who they are. They leverage YouTube to solve problems, crowdfunding to support their ideas, apps to improve efficiency, and social networking to expand their network of problem solvers. They are little MacGyvers. And they are fast at solving challenges.
- Gen Edge doesn’t want to talk about change, they want to implement change. Similar to their Gen X parents, they perceive Millennials as talking about changing the future, but not affecting it. This generation seeks scientific and social innovation—leveraging 3-D printing, sensors, and other new technologies to remake the world. They are politically disaffected with current politics because they believe things such as providing clean water to the 3rd world will generate more impact that the “archaic”, slow moving political systems.
- While Millennials grew up during the prosperous 90’s and the dot-com boom of the internet, Gen Edge came of age during the post-9/11 age of heightened security and the Great Recession. Again, like their Gen X parents who grew up in the post-Vietnam/Watergate cynicism and 80’s stagflation, Gen Edge rejects that the world is “rainbows and unicorns”, and accept that the world has some darkness. They don’t dwell on this, however—they accept it. In a by Millennial Branding and Randstad US, the #1 quality Gen Edge seeks in their leaders is: honesty.
To riff off of one of my favorite Gen-X prophets: “The world moves fast. And this generation is ready to move with it. The rest of us need to buckle up.”