Looking Through the Generational Lens

One of the consistent lenses I use to view life through is that of generations.

It comes as a natural part of my curiosity of life, as I am interacting with 5 generational cohorts in my family: my parents and in-laws are from the GI Generation; I am a Baby Boomer; my oldest son and one daughter-in-law are Gen Xers; my other three children, two daughters-in-law and one son-in-law are Millennials; and my 6 grandchildren are Gen Zers. Even though we are spread out across three states (and occasionally, around the world) and do not get to interact as much as we would like, the personal level of generational differences is obvious.

Take the same dynamics as above – 5 generations – and move them into the institutional world, say a church setting, and it won’t be long till you have a generational collision.

If you are a leader in ChurchWorld, how do you deal with the fact that, for the first time in our history, we can have five separate and distinct generations working alongside each other in our churches? The 5th generation, born since the mid-2000’s, is not far behind in taking up a leadership role.

Generational differences are important, but it is all too easy to stereotype these differences. The only way we’ll ever build bridges between generations is to stop stereotyping and get to know who these generations really are and why they are that way.

An interesting book on the subject: Sticking Points – How to Get 4 Generations Working Together in the 12 Places They Come Apart, by Haydn Shaw. Here’s a teaser:

For the first time in history, we have four different generations in the workplace (and five in families). These generations might as well be from different countries, so different are their cultural styles and preferences. Of the four approaches organizations can take to blending the generations, only one of them works today. Focusing on the “what” escalates tensions, while focusing on the “why” pulls teams together. Knowing the twelve sticking points can allow teams to label tension points and work through them—even anticipate and preempt them. Implementing the five steps to cross-generational leadership can lead to empowering, not losing, key people.

How many different generations do you regularly interact with?

How’s that going?

The Class of 2024 Arrives (Online) at Campus This Fall

An annual tradition, starting at Beloit College in 1998 and now residing at Marist College, is the mindset list of the incoming freshman class – the graduating class of 2024.

They were born in the aftermath of 9/11 and have entered college during the COVID-19 pandemic. For this year’s incoming group of first-year college students, going to college might even require staying home for remote classes; some may simply be taking a gap year.

While the class of 2024 might be questioning what the future holds, one thing is certain: this group of students is living through an unprecedented start to their college careers and their first 18 years have been bookended by key world events.

For a taste, here’s a couple to think about:

  • The necessity of personal protection equipment (PPE) will drive fashion trends for the next couple of seasons as young designers in the class of 2024 adapt face masks and other PPE into functional objects of personal expression.
  • The class of 2024 (and, often, their teachers) expect and embrace a richer diversity of voices in the books they read, and their enthusiasm for young adult (YA) literature has led to the emergence of vibrant new voices such as Angie Thomas (The Hate U Give), Marie Lu (Legend), and Tomi Adeyemi (Children of Blood and Bone). In addition, these students are shaping American literary culture like never before, by contributing commentary and adaptations in online forums such as GoodReads, Reddit, Twitter, and fanfic sites.

Here’s the full press release.

 

About the Mindset List

The Mindset List was created at Beloit College in 1998 to reflect the world view of entering first year students. Developed by Ron Nief, Director Emeritus of Public Affairs at Beloit College, and Beloit Professor Tom McBride, who later collaborated with Beloit Professor of Sociology Charles Westerberg, the list has garnered national and international media attention. In 2019, the list moved to Marist and became the Marist Mindset List. Read more here.

My 5 Generation Family is a Microcosm of Society

The legions of ancient Rome were composed of ten cohorts each: cohesive units of 300-600 men who trained, ate, slept, fought, won, lost, lived, and died together. The strength was their ability to think, act, and react as a unit. Though composed of individuals, training and socialization equipped them to behave as if of a single mind when called to battle. Social demographers, students of the effects of population on society, use the term cohort to refer to people born in the same general time span who share key life experiences – from setting out for school for the first time together through reaching puberty at the same time, to entering the workforce or university or marriage or middle age or their dotage at the same time.

The five primary generations of today’s American lifestyle span a remarkable slice of American and world history. Three major wars, countless minor (?) ones, economic booms and busts, social upheavals, rocketing technological achievement, and even stepping beyond our planet are among the milestones that have directly and indirectly shaped the times.

I count myself fortunate to have a direct connection to all five generations. To me, understanding more about how each of them think, feel, and act is not just a mental exercise – it’s necessary part of life.

  • Veterans (1922-1945) My father and mother were born into the early part of this cohort. He entered military service just as WWII was ending; she was in college and then taught school; they were part of what some call “The Greatest Generation”. Think “American values” and you’ve got their number: civic pride, loyalty, respect for authority, and apple pie. My father passed away in 2012, and my mother in 2018. They may not be physically present with me, but who I am was shaped by their influence, and they impact me every day. My mother-in-law, aged 99, still lives at her home of 65+years (with a caretaker). Additionally, this cohort, as their generation moves into their twilight years, still controls a significant part of the economy and will continue to be influential in the years ahead outside of their numbers.
  • Baby Boomers (1946-1964) My wife and I are late Baby Boomers. Born in the latter 50s, we are a part of what was until recently the largest cohort in US history. For over thirty years, the sheer size of the Boomer generation defined the organization’s social landscape in a majority-rules cultural takeover. We were the civil rights, empowerment, and diversity generation. Never content with the status quo, we are always redefining what it means to be old and cool and important and successful.
  • Generation X (1965-1981) My oldest son and one of my daughters-in-law are Xers, even though they sometimes exhibit characteristics of the next cohort as well. Technologically adept, clever, and resourceful, the Xers are a deeply segmented, fragmented cohort. Their need for feed back and flexibility, coupled with the dislike of close supervision is but one of the many complex nuances of this generation. They are all about change- they’ve changed cities, homes, and even parents all their lives. Often seen as pessimistic with an edgy skepticism, many Xers are more positive about their personal future than the group as a whole.
  • Millennials (1982-2000) My other three children, two daughters-in-law, and a son-in-law all fall into this cohort. They are the children of the soccer moms and little League dads, and endless rounds of swim meets, karate classes, dancing lessons, computer camp and … you get the picture. They consider themselves the smartest, cleverest, healthiest and most-wanted group to have ever lived. Born into the technology boom times, barriers of time and space have little absolute meaning to them. They are willing to work and learn. By sheer numbers (their total births eclipsed the Boomers by several million) they are going to dominate history in new ways. They are the hyper-connected: constantly connected to multiple devices in order to know what and whom they need to know.
  • Generation Z (born after 2001) Just now entering teenage years and early adulthood, sociologists have little hard data yet. But it is the generation of my six grandchildren, and it is important to me! So far, technology is the hallmark of this group, which is the first generation to be raised in the era of smartphones and social media as a daily part of life. They’re growing up amid the promise of technological innovation – but also in the environment of economic uncertainty, a sharp decrease in well-defined and reliable career paths, increasing political divides, and the effect of decades of repressed racial tensions. Consequently, when compared to their predecessors, this group is both more cautious and more anxious.

There are some indications that generational cohorts repeat every four generations, so we’ll just have to see. Led by the thoughts of William Strauss and Neil Howe published in the late 1990s, this idea of “cycles” is getting more attention now that their predictions of today’s Millennial cohort are proving to be on target more often than not. That will definitely be my radar in the future!

An interesting fact, and the origin of the title of this website: there are 27 years between each of the first born in the above generations of my family, thus 27gen.

The next five years are going to be very interesting as each of these five generations exert influence on each other. I will be actively watching my own microcosm of society.

The last time we were all together in one place – Walt Disney World, September 2016.

Remembering My Father, Celebrating Book Lover’s Day

August 9 is birthdate of my father, who was born in 1927.

It’s also Book Lover’s Day.

Those two seemingly incongruent circumstances actually have a powerful connection for me.

After suffering a major stroke on February 10, 2012, my father passed away on February 25. By the time I was able to get back to Tennessee to see him, he had lost motor functions and speech capacity. Over the few days I was there, the slow but steady decline continued.

I had last seen him during the Christmas holidays. While there, I spent some time alone at home with him. After suffering a series of strokes over the past several years, he could no longer read – but the legacy of his reading lines the bookshelves all over my boyhood home. In the quiet hours when everyone was asleep, I scanned the shelves and remembered hearing him talk about this book or that one. I pulled a few off the shelf, and opening them, was instantly transported back in time to a conversation about the subject, or to memories of the event itself.

I’ve been a reader of books since, well, before I can remember. My father was an avid reader, and he passed that passion along to me at an early age. Even though he worked 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, he often spent several hours reading at night. He insisted my mother take my brother and me to the library in the next town and check out books – every two weeks. I would get the maximum number of books, take them home, and read them – usually in the first day or two. Then it would be an impatient wait till the next library trip.

Reading is a passion I treasure, and one that I am thankful my father instilled in me.

Sunday 8/9 will be Book Lover’s Day – not an official holiday but one I eagerly celebrate. Book reading is a great hobby. It’s an important one, too. Employers look for it on resumes. Reading is educational, informative, and relaxing. It makes us both smarter and happier people.

Book Lovers Day is a great day to celebrate. Just grab an interesting book, find a quiet, cozy place, and crack open the cover. Celebrating Book Lovers Day in August is pleasurable on the deck, under a shady tree, poolside, or in a cozy hammock. If you fall asleep while reading, that’s okay. It’s all part of the relaxing benefits of being a book lover.

I’m also celebrating this Book Lover’s Day as a part of my vocation – Vision Room Curator and Digital Engagement Leader at Auxano. My role requires me to read – a lot – and then write book excerpts, Tweets, Facebook posts, and blogs about what I’m reading. During a recent conversation with a teammate, I was able to pull a half-dozen book titles off the top of my head when asked for recommendations on books about a specific topic that helped him work with a client. That’s part of the benefit of reading!

I love my job!

Here’s an example:

I love (and practice) the 4 different levels of reading as espoused by Mortimer Adler in his great book, How to Read a Book, but I really like to latch onto a topic and practice Syntopical Reading. Also known as comparative reading, it is where many books are read, and placed in relation to one another and to a subject about which they all revolve.

For the last several months, that topic has been accelerating a three-year-old project: “Hospitality in the Home.” My current tower shelves of syntopical reading in the topic is at just under 200 books – and I’ve still actively researching the subject, and discovering new authors and books!

In addition to the pure enjoyment of reading on the subject, these books formed the basis of a month-long emphasis at Auxano entitled “Building Bridges to Your Neighbors.” The content produced by this reading includes two emails, two feature articles, a webinar, an eBook, and countless social media posts – PLUS launching a new website, First Place Hospitality.

Here’s a partial view of those books; this is one of two towers; another couple of dozen or so books are on a nearby file cabinet:

In addition to this special project, another ongoing syntopical project of sorts is SUMS Remix.

Issue #161, shipping next week, is the most recent one, published every two weeks over the last six years. Those 161 issues represent 482 books. The format of SUMS Remix is simple: one problem statement faced by church leaders, 3 brief excepts from books that provide a solution to the problem, and 3 ready-to-use applications for leaders to try out immediately. You can find out more and purchase an annual subscription to SUMS Remix here.

With an issue published every two weeks, a two-week production cycle, and a two-week preparation phase, at any given time I’m working on at least 4 SUMS Remix issues, which means there are at least 12 books on my front burner.

And that’s just for SUMS Remix reading…

Then there’s current reading for Auxano social media (Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook posts), preparation for Guest Experience development and consultations, other writing projects, and believe it or not, reading just for the pleasure of reading – a nightly occurrence. Currently a few topics I’m reading in include restaurants, food, and related areas; the psychology behind our bias; the development of U.S. culture from the 1600s through today; and of course, there’s always some Disney history in the mix!

So, on Book Lover’s Day, and in memory of my father, I’m trying to emulate Thomas Edison, who believed that voracious reading was the key to self-improvement. He read books on a remarkable range of subjects to address his endless queries. As Edison noted, “I didn’t read a few books, I read the library.”


If you want to know more about my dad, here is the eulogy I gave at his funeral. After the funeral, while my sons and I were moving some things around his gas station, I discovered one reason I am so passionate about guest experiences. And read this post to find out why readers are leaders.

How are you celebrating Book Lover’s Day?

What’s Shaping the Minds of This Year’s Freshman Class, the Class of 2021

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.

Today, the Mindset List of the Class of 2021 was released.

The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, authors of The Mindset Lists of American History: From Typewriters to Text Messages, What Ten Generations of Americans Think Is Normal, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.

Leaders – of all ages – need to understand what has shaped the lives of today’s entering college freshman class, those 18 year olds who:

  • Are the last class to be born in the 1900s, making them the last of the Millennials.
  • Are the first generation for whom a “phone” has been primarily a video game, direction finder, electronic telegraph, or a research library.
  • Have always had emojis to cheer them up.

For those who cannot comprehend that it has been 18 years since this year’s entering college students were born, they should recognize that the next four years will go even faster, confirming the authors’ belief that “generation gaps have always needed glue.”

Here are a few nuggets from this year’s Mindset Class for the Class of 2021. You must read the entire list here!

  • They are the first generation to grow up with Watson outperforming Sherlock.
  • Amazon has always invited consumers to follow the arrow from A to Z.
  • They have always been searching for Pokemon.
  • By the time they entered school, laptops were outselling desktops.
  • Whatever the subject, there’s always been a blog for it.
  • Ketchup has always come in green.
  • The BBC has always had a network in the U.S. where they speak American.
  • Family Guy is the successor to the Father Knows Best they never knew.

You can find the rest of the list here.

Read it now.

Generosity for Everyone

a guest post from Todd McMichen, Auxano’s Chief Campaign Officer

It has been an exciting summer around my house. I have had the privilege of watching my college daughter volunteer at the local children’s hospital as a patient pal. My wife has taken time out of her busy realty business to serve a family that has been through a pretty big crisis. My son, who is about to graduate college, is dreaming of how he can impact the future lives of others and benefit his local church. I’ve texted our family giving to our local church, helped another family meet a need, and touched a few buttons on an APP donating to a local charity. It is just pretty normal stuff, nothing exceptional, just moments of generosity from everyone.

No matter how old we are or how much we earn, everyone can live generously. Let’s look at a few examples in the Bible for inspiration. I am first drawn to the boy with the fishes and loaves. While I am not sure how old he is, he appears to be old enough to travel to town and take care of a chore for his family. He probably knows the value of money and certainly of food. Then Jesus and His disciples come along asking if they can use his resources to help others. I don’t think the boy was wrestled to the ground and had his groceries taken. I think he gave them willingly, but had no clue what was about to happen. I wonder if it turned out to be the best day of his life. He probably got home late, couldn’t wait to tell mom, and bragged to all his friends. I bet it left him pretty eager to go to town again looking forward to his next giving adventure.

Then I want to jump to the other end of the spectrum. It’s the poor widow who gave all she had. I would imagine in the modern church if a poor widow showed up at her pastor’s office wanting to give all she had, her gift may very well be declined. Her pastor wouldn’t want to hurt her feelings, but she needs her resources more than the church does. Actually, the church has a Benevolence Fund she could benefit from. I love that neither Jesus nor the poor widow were concerned about what the future holds regarding her financial needs. Jesus was more than willing to accept her gift and she was more than willing to give it.

Of course, there was the rich young ruler who had more than enough. Jesus asked him to do as the poor widow did and give everything, but he refused. Pretty interesting that a young boy gives all he had one day and a poor widow gives all she has on another day. Evidently generosity is for everyone and it has nothing to do with the amount of resources you possess or how old you are.

Now I am thinking of Zaccheus and Barnabas, two very successful men in the prime of their earning careers. While I am not sure how long Barnabas has been a believer, I do know that he is way ahead of Zaccheus. Zaccheus isn’t even a believer when his story begins, but by the end of it he is living extravagant generosity. Barnabas actually surrenders an entire piece of property he owns, and gives it to the church to distribute the resources no strings attached.

Here are some things we can learn from a few ordinary people from the Bible who on random days decided to be giving:

  1. Giving is for everyone regardless of your age.
  2. Giving is for everyone regardless of your net worth.
  3. Giving is for everyone regardless of how strong your faith is.
  4. Giving is for everyone regardless of what has been previously planned in your life.
  5. Giving is indeed for everyone.

Now, I do know giving can be hard at times. It is not always top of mind. I think everyone would agree that giving is good both personally and for the world at large. Just imagine what life would be like if everyone lived just a little bit more generously everyday?

The Bible also contains real stories of our struggles with being a giving person. You actually do not have to travel very far in the Bible to be captured by the story of Cain and Abel. Both gave. One got it right and the other had some learning to do. We have already mentioned the rich young ruler who just couldn’t do it. Then when I shared about Barnabas, you may have been inclined to think of Annanias and Sapphira. So while giving is for everyone we all struggle with how to be both willing and joyful givers at times. So maybe we should add a few more principles.

  1. Giving is for everyone even though we all fail at it at times.
  2. Everyone can learn to be better at living generously.
  3. The more generous we all are the better our world is.

As you may have already guessed, I am pretty passionate about generosity. If you are interested in learning more then you may want to check out our latest resource. I had the privilege of partnering with the highly skilled curriculum team at LifeWay and we put together Generous Life resources. We took 10 Bible heroes and unpacked five different types of givers helping all ages develop their own growth plan. It contains five sermon outlines, with accompanying small group leader guides for all ages. Yes, all ages are included. There is even a weekly family devotion to do in the home.

GenerousLifelogo

The Generous Life is not the stuff of super heroes or mega saints. It is a great way to live for normal people. Generosity is indeed for everyone, so let’s all join the journey of getting a little better at it each day.

 

Ready or Not, the Class of 2018 is Here!

It’s August, and most kids are back in school.

At our house, our youngest (of four) is a senior at Johnson and Wales University, where he will finish classwork a semester early. When he graduates next spring, it will be the culmination of a lot of years of school – our oldest started kindergarten in 1986. With four kids, born four years apart, that’s 29 straight years of some form of education: elementary, middle, and high school; undergraduate and graduate school.

Wow – have things changed a lot in those 29 years!

Which brings me to one of my favorite days – and topics – of the year: the release of Beloit College’s Mindset List for this year’s incoming college freshman class, the graduating class of 2018.

courtesy of warningsignshirts.com

courtesy of warningsignshirts.com

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall. The creation of Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, it was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references, and quickly became a catalog of the rapidly changing worldview of each new generation.

Mindset List websites at Beloit College, themindsetlist.com, and their Facebook page receive more than a million hits annually.

Leaders – of all ages – need to understand what has shaped the lives of today’s entering college freshman class, those 18 year olds who:

arrive on campuses in the coming weeks, coming with a view of the world quite distinct from their mentors.  Most born in 1996, they have always had The Daily Show to set them straight, always been able to secure immediate approval and endorsement for their ideas through “likes” on their Facebook pages, and have rarely heard the term “bi-partisan agreement.

Please read the whole list here, but these are my Top Ten:

  1. During their initial weeks of kindergarten, they were upset by endlessly repeated images of planes blasting into the World Trade Center.
  2. Since they binge-watch their favorite TV shows, they might like to binge-watch the video portions of their courses too.
  3. “Press pound” on the phone is now translated as “hit hashtag.”
  4. Celebrity “selfies” are far cooler than autographs.
  5. FOX News and MSNBC have always been duking it out for the hearts and minds of American viewers.
  6. There has always been “TV” designed to be watched exclusively on the web.
  7. While the number of Americans living with HIV has always been going up, American deaths from AIDS have always been going down.
  8. Two-term presidents are routine, but none of them ever won in a landslide.
  9. “Good feedback” means getting 30 likes on your last Facebook post in a single afternoon.
  10. Since Toys R Us created a toy registry for kids, visits to Santa are just a formality.

Behind the light humor of the Mindset List there are always some serious issues about the future of the class and their role in the future of the nation,” notes the List’s editors Ron Nief and Tom McBride. “The digital technology that affords them privacy from their parents robs them of their privacy amid the “big data” of the NSA and Google. How will the absence of instant online approval impact their performance in the classroom and work-place?

If you’re more visually-minded, here is a brief interview with the authors.

Enjoy!

 

What’s Shaped the Mindset of Today’s College Freshmen?

It’s August, and school is back in session for most students.

That means it’s time for my annual encouragement for leaders to take a look at the mindset of this year’s entering college freshmen, the class of 2017 – courtesy of Beloit College.

courtesy of warningsignshirts.com

courtesy of warningsignshirts.com

Each August since 1998, Beloit College has released the Beloit College Mindset List, providing a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college this fall.

Prepared by Beloit’s former Public Affairs Director Ron Nief and Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride, the list was originally created as a reminder to faculty to be aware of dated references. It quickly became an internationally monitored catalog of the changing worldview of each new college generation.

Leaders – of all ages – need to understand what has shaped the lives of today’s entering college freshman class, those 18 year olds who:

  • Use smart phones in class to indicate they are reading the assignment they should have read last night, or they may be recording every minute of their college experience…or they may be texting the person next to them.
  • Though they have never had the chicken pox, they are glad to have access to health insurance for a few more years.
  • Will search for the academic majors reported to lead to good-paying jobs, and most of them will take a few courses taught at a distant university by a professor they will never meet.

When the Class of 2017 arrives on campus this fall, these digital natives will already be well-connected to each other. They are more likely to have borrowed money for college than their Boomer parents were, and while their parents foresee four years of school, the students are pretty sure it will be longer than that.  If they are admirers of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, they may wonder whether a college degree is all it’s cracked up to be, even as their dreams are tempered by the reality that tech geniuses come along about as often as Halley’s Comet, which they will not glimpse until they reach what we currently consider “retirement age.”

They will study hard, learn a good deal more, teach their professors quite a lot, and realize eventually that they will soon be in power. After all, by the time they hit their thirties, four out of ten voters will be of their generation. Whatever their employers may think of them, politicians will be paying close attention.

You need to read the whole list here, but these are my Top Ten:

  • They are the sharing generation, having shown tendencies to share everything, including possessions, no matter how personal.
  • Having a chat has seldom involved talking.
  • Their TV screens keep getting smaller as their parents’ screens grow ever larger.
  • With GPS, they have never needed directions to get someplace, just an address.
  • Their favorite feature films have always been largely, if not totally, computer generated.
  • Their parents’ car CD player is soooooo ancient and embarrassing.
  • They could always get rid of their outdated toys on eBay.
  • Plasma has never been just a bodily fluid.
  • Olympic fever has always erupted every two years.
  • They have known only two presidents.

The List was compiled to identify both the common ground that teachers and students share, and the mine fields of misunderstanding that seem to grow wider with every forgotten reference to the Berlin Wall or Monica Lewinsky.

Enjoy!

Bridging the Digital Divide, Part 3

Our leadership brains are dealing with a digital divide in organizations today: team members of different generations think differently. First, there’s the digital natives; then come the digital immigrants. Bringing up the rear (literally) are the digital dinosaurs.

Author Marilee Sprenger, writing in “The Leadership Brain for Dummies,” makes these observations about the digital dinosaur:

courtesy gerbenvanerlelens.com

courtesy gerbenvanerlelens.com

 

Natives speak the language of their birth; immigrants are learning to translate the digital language of the natives, and then there are those individuals or organizations who are hopelessly out of date – the digital dinosaur.

You may think that Traditionalists (born before WW II) fall into this category, and many do. But anyone or any organization can be a dinosaur.

Digital media is transforming organizations everywhere. If your organization appears to be incapable of change, those who embrace digital technology won’t find it appealing. If your clients are changing their minds and getting plugged into the latest technology, you don’t won’t to present yourself as stuck in an analog world.

Take a close look at what your competition is doing digitally. If they are still dinosaurs, make some changes so your organization can be the first to enter the global age. Rather than feeling safe because they aren’t doing anything that you’re not doing, get out of that reptile brain and use your thinking brain to take some risks to get updated.

Note to church leaders: if my use of the words “client” and “competition” bother you, sorry – you have a whole different set of problems! The people who come to your church are your clients, and you do have competition – but it’s not the church down the street from you.

 

A closing thought on this series: leadership is all in your head – literally. When your brain is at its best, you will be at your best as a leader. Understanding how your brain works is just the first step. Put your leadership brain to work today!

 
inspired by The Leadership Brain for Dummies, by Marilee Sprenger
Leadership Brain for Dummies

Bridging the Digital Divide, Part 2

The brains of those who are digitally connected are different from those who are not. Here’s how Marilee Sprenger, author of “The Leadership Brain for Dummies,” sees this divide:

courtesy facebook.com

courtesy facebook.com

 

Some Traditionalists (born before WW II), many Baby Boomers (born 1945-1964), and the early Gen Xers (born 1965-through the 70s) fall into the category of digital immigrants. They didn’t grow up learning the second language of the digital world and speak it with varying degrees of fluency.

Many digital immigrants:

  • Insist on paper bills even though receiving copies via email
  • Print out emails and attachments
  • Rely on printed newspapers, books, and so on
  • Are somewhat leery of paying bills online
  • Believe that methods taught years ago should work for everyone
  • Don’t understand the informal language used in emails and texts
  • Believe a social network consists of people he meets with for parties

Digital immigrants have much to offer to your organization. Wisdom derived from years of storing patterns in the brain gives them the ability to see the big picture, predict accurately, foresee future consequences, and draw on mental templates to help store new information.

Challenging tasks activate more areas in the frontal lobes of the brains of digital immigrants than in the brain of digital natives. The immigrants have little choice because their brains change as they increase their skills with technology. The natives may need to practice more skills that their brains haven’t used very much, like building rapport face to face.

How do you lead digital natives and immigrants to work together?

Next: Bridging the Digital Divide, Part 3

inspired by The Leadership Brain for Dummies, by Marilee Sprenger

Leadership Brain for Dummies