Any questions that define who someone is and what group he or she may belong to are essential questions.
It was only recently that one of my Physics students asked me about the difference between a physician (a doctor of medicine; word origin: 1175-1225) and a physicist (a scientist who specialises in physics; word origin: 1710-20).
Looking back at the history of physicians we discover that in the 18th century, for example, apothecaries (what we now call pharmacists; word origin: 1325-75) were recognised as GPs (general practitioners, today’s family doctors). The apothecaries were affiliated to a Society of Apothecaries and could ascend to higher positions such as, for example, Masters of the Society of Apothecaries, which granted them a respectable position at the royal court in 18th-century England.
Further back in history, the Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime. The continental custom of guilds of merchants arrived after the Conquest, with incorporated societies of merchants in each town or city holding exclusive rights of doing business there. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (cf. Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose in the 14th century, as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.
The tradition of guilds, based on special knowledge and connections such as the disciple-apprentice relationship has grown less popular in today’s world, where anyone willing to learn may jump at the opportunity of getting a degree in a certain field of knowledge that was restricted to special circles and elites centuries ago.
You are probably familiar with abbreviations like BC or AD. What about a newcomer like BG?
It stands for Before Google (1996).
As Tonya Trappe suggested in a workshop she held in Krakow a few days ago, people over 35 now are considerably younger, BG age considered (your BG age= your real age – 14 years). Leaving the joke aside, what do you see as the characteristics of your generation?
Before considering any answers to this question, let’s look at the definition of a generation, as given by Tammy Erickson in her article “Generational Differences between India and the U.S.”
By definition, a generation is a group a people who, based on their age, share not only a chronological location in history but also the experiences that accompany it. These common experiences, in turn, prompt the formation of shared beliefs and behaviors. Of course, the commonalities are far from the whole story. Even those of you who grew up in the same country also had unique teen experiences, based on your family’s socioeconomic background, your parents’ philosophies, and a host of other factors. But the prominent events you share – particularly during formative teen years – are what give your generation its defining characteristics.
After defining the concept of generation, Tammy Erickson proceeds with a comparison between Indian and American generations. I would like you to consider her observations and add your own thoughts and comments on the generation we (myself and most of you currently contributing to the ELB) belong to, called Generation Y (also known as Generation Next or the Millenials).
Generation Y – Born from 1980 to 1995
Globally, Generation Ys‘ immersion in personal technology enabled this generation to experience many of the same events and, as a result, develop as the most globally similar generation yet. Acts of terrorism and school violence were among this generation’s most significant shared formative events. The random nature of terrorism – in which inexplicable things happen unexpectedly to anyone at any time – left many Y‘s with the view that it is logical to live life fully now. Around the world, this generation has a sense of immediacy that is often misinterpreted by older co-workers as impatience.
In the U.S., Y‘s teen years were marked by an unprecedented bull market and a strong pro-child culture. As a result, they are optimistic, goal-oriented, and very family-centric.
In India, the late 1990’s and 2000’s saw the development of a large middle-class and increased demand for and production of many consumer goods – in many ways, a situation reminiscent of the U.S. Traditionalists‘ experience with a rapidly expanding pie. The Indian economy grew under liberalization and reform policies, the country was stable and prosperous, and political power changed hands without incident. India became a prestigious educational powerhouse and respected source of IT talent. By 2008, 34 Indian companies were listed in Forbes Global 2000 ranking.
Y’s in India share the generation’s global sense of immediacy, coupled with the excitement of being part of the country’s first wave of broad economic opportunity. As a result, young employees in India tend to share the rapid tempo of U.S. Y’s ambitions, but with a greater emphasis on financial reward as a desired outcome. They have come of age in an exciting, dynamic country with significant economic opportunity. Most are entrepreneurial and business savvy, as well as technologically capable and connected. Their mental model is heavily influenced by India’s rich, complex democracy – they easily accept diversity of opinion – as well as by the Western heritage of laws and customs left from the old days of British rule, making them strongly suited for global interaction.
If you like to learn more about Tammy Erickson’s take on various generations, have a look at her two videos you can down-load from the “Leading Across the Ages” site. More articles by the author on career advice for Generation X (the people in their 30s or 40s), on Gen Xers’ dissatisfaction at work and other topics now available online.
Wikipedia lists as the next generation the one referred to as Generation Z, Generation I, Digital Natives, Gen. Tech, or the internet generation.
People from this generation were born between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s. The oldest members of this generation were born during the late-1990s, usually with the start year of 1997, and the youngest of the generation were born during a baby boomlet around the time of the 2008 Global financial crisis.
What is your opinion about Generation Y in Poland, today? What were its greatest influences and how will it influence the generation(s) to come? You may think about the influence of communism on the current Polish mentality in forms you remember from early childhood, your parents or other people, as well as in other forms you may experience today.
Do you believe you are part of a certain generation? Why? Why not? In either case, what do you think makes you (and others like you) different (if at all) from older generations?
Whatever your point of view is in the present, do you believe it might change as you grow “younger and wiser”?
Filed under: ■ Generations, ■ Harvard Business Review