Seismic generation shifts

generationsbiz

AdAge.com reports on an auto-industry trade event in China and who from local firms went to speak:

[...] Most domestic automakers sent middle-level managers to speak at the event. These people are in their 30s or early 40s, and they represent a new generation that is open and pragmatic. By contrast, their bosses generally are more than 50 years old. These senior executives carefully toe the line of China’s policies because their state-owned companies have close ties to the government. That’s why their public speeches often are tedious.

Old-school Chinese executives also tend to be media-shy and evasive with the press. But the younger generation is more candid. They dare to speak up their mind and care less about political correctness.

Bold text my emphasis.

When I think of business execs in the 50+ group who I know – I’m in that group myself – many do act their age with logical precision in how they view their worlds, often with a big risk-aversion perspective.

Whether you’re in China and live and work under that country’s restrictive political system, or free-wheel in the democratic West, business reality is always about risk calculation. Today, it’s also a great deal about what feels right rather than only depth analysis. And that, largely, illustrates a generational difference where the younger you are, the more your risk calculation considers what feels right.

I’m always saying that age is just a number (a variation on ‘you’re as old as you feel’), and your outlook should also include what you think and feel, not only be tied to a stereotypical expectation.

Hasn’t it always been so? I remember when desktop publishing and cc:Mail first hit the business world in the 1980s, and thinking two seismic thoughts:

  1. These will change the world, and
  2. Those guys in their 50s just don’t get it.

Plus ça change today, and then some.

[Photo courtesy Interpersonal Communication Blog.]

About Neville Hobson

Entrepreneurial business communicator with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Co-host of the weekly business podcast For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report. Also an occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Follow me on Twitter and Google+.