1. The legacy of Boomers
For 35 years the Boomers were the watershed generation. They dominated what happened in business and in the world. They came of age just as man walked on the moon. Disco came in and gratefully died during their tenure. The Soviets and Americans came to détente, only to see a new threats to a peaceful world arise. Television evolved from snowy, colorless things into sleek, elegant digital devices. Anvil-heavy phones were compacted into handy multi-tasking pocket-sized devices.
The workplace was changed dramatically during the Boomer’s tenure. The tools of their fathers--typewriters, adding machines, Mimeographs and Addressographs were all pushed off the desktop and into the Goodwill box. Even the great information exchanging oasis of yore, the water cooler was replaced in most places by plastic botels of the fluid.
In the marketplace, the change was equally pervasive. Big companies got bigger as small ones disappeared. Brands became ubiquitous all over the world. Marketing campaigns, backed by enormous budgets boomed. They had to, in order to be heard above all the other marketing campaigns.
But time passes. Paunch happens. Hair thins. The Boomers aren’t kids anymore. These days, a great many of them are focused more on retirement condominiums than on the revolution many of them talked about in their youth.
There were disappointments. World Peace was not attained during their tenure. The Chicago Cubs never won the World Series. In the end, like so many generations before them, much of what they will be remembered for is in the tools they brought into everyday use. Much, but not all.
As they start to pack up their boxes and yield their desks to a next generation, there are three valuable legacies the Boomers leave that will shape the next watershed generation as it comes of age.
1.The personal computer. At first, they were outlaw objects. Boomers smuggled them into work to bypass the keepers of the mainframe in the basement. Over time, the PC would devour up all the other office machines. But it wouldn’t stop there. These machines started talking to the other machines in the office and then to other machines all over the world.
2.The Internet. Between all these PCs, a new, vast shapeless space formed. This was a place where nothing was tangible, but people came to meet there, came to share, shop, inform, learn shout and be amused. The Internet would emerge because of the personal computer, but it would become even more significant to the way people of the world connect to each other.
2. Daughters and sons. More than the PCs and the Internet, the children of Boomers are now coming of age. They are as different from their Boomer parents as their parents were from the generation they replaced. For one thing they grew up in the company of computers and immersed in the Internet. They will improve these tools further and they will change the world more than even the Boomers who gave you Star Trek can imagine.
What happens when one watershed generation replaces another in the work and marketplace? This next generation is about to become your employee, your customer or maybe even your new competitor. How do you adapt to the change which is coming in the next 5, 10 and 30 years. Where do you look for answers?
You might start by looking in your own kid’s room. The recreational habits of young people age 12-24 today are the social habits that businesses will need to adjust to in the very close future.