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Generation C is the newest generation to soon enter the workplace. First dubbed Generation C by Booz & Co., its members are born after 1997 and called Generation C for their focus on connectivity, communication and collaboration. They have grown up under the influence of Facebook, phone apps and iEverything. Technology is so seamlessly woven into their lives that the lines between work, school and life are all blurred and woven into one. Interestingly, some pundits have referred to members of Generation C as the new “Silent Generation,” since digital communication has all but replaced in-person interactions.
Generation C is growing up in a primarily digital world that easily moves between computers, media tablets and smartphones. In fact, according to the Pew Internet American Life Project, 60 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds download apps to their smartphone and 40 percent of those use six or more apps each week.
By 2020, Generation C will make up 40 percent of the population in the USA, Europe and BRIC countries and they will constitute the largest group of consumers worldwide. Generation C will transform how we live, work and consume – driven by the way they live in a web of hundreds of contacts maintained daily through a variety of channels.
The following video suggests that for a one-year-old baby today, a magazine is really just an iPad that doesn’t work. This is not mere hyperbole. The video reflects what many adults already know: the use of iPhones, Droids, iPads and similar gadgets is making those devices an extension of our brain.
If we don’t know something, we can look it up and continue our conversation with new information. We don’t need to pre-check a map before we leave because our phones can guide us where we are going while we are going.
We are all shaped and changed by our experience with new technologies, which are literally changing our brains.
Oxford neuroscientist Susan Greenfield says that the brain is:
substantially shaped by what we do to it and by the experience of daily life. [...] At a microcellular level, the infinitely complex network of nerve cells that make up the constituent parts of the brain actually change in response to certain experiences and stimuli. The brain, in other words, is malleable – not just in early childhood but right up to early adulthood and, in certain instances, beyond. The surrounding environment has a huge impact both on the way our brains develop and how that brain is transformed into a unique human mind.
For some, this can be a clunky process. We are slow to realize how widely we can adapt and use this technology for supporting our lives and work. Babies, though, are surrounded by technology from before Day 1. The way they play and learn and speak and interact are shaped and changed by that technology.
Watch the video, then ask yourself: If millennials and Generation C think differently, how will your organization design and engage learning and communication in profoundly new ways for when Generation C joins the workforce in 2030? What will your company have to do today to prepare for members of Generation C around:
- Talent sourcing: Will recruiting always start online in social networks, such as Facebook, and on a company’s social game site?
- Talent development: Will training and career development be personalized to each individual and be available on mobile apps and smartphones with virtual facilitators, such as Siri, guiding us through the latest knowledge we need to be successful in our jobs?
- Talent skill development: Will personal communication skills be even more important to be developed in new hires as members of Generation C spend more than 20 hours a week online?
- Talent feedback: Will annual performance reviews go the way of calculators and desktops? Will feedback and mentoring constantly be delivered on demand via a smartphone?
Share your comments here and enjoy the video with your family.
Jeanne Meister and Steve Dahlberg
Jeanne C. Meister is co-author of The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today (Harper Business, 2010) and co-host of the Social Learning Boot Camp. Jeanne is an internationally recognized workplace-learning consultant dedicated to delivering competitive advantage, innovation and improved business results for organizations. She was most recently vice president of Accenture Learning. Steven Dahlberg is partner and vice president of innovation for Future Workplace and co-host of the Social Learning Boot Camp. He collaborates across sectors to assist organizations in developing and applying creativity, innovation and learning. He co-hosts the Creativity in Play radio show, authored the foreword to Education is Everybody’s Business, and has written for Training magazine. Steven serves on the board of the National Creativity Network and has taught "Creativity + Social Change" at the University of Connecticut.
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