by Bruce Tulgan
Originally published: February 21, 2017
Throughout most of history, in most societies, every new generation has come along with new attitudes and expectations that differ – at least in part – from those of previous generations. That’s why every new generation prompts a “generation gap” of sorts.
Today’s generation gap, in contrast, is about much more than a clash of styles and preferences; much more than the creative energy of youth challenging the cautious wisdom of experience; more than the new butting up against the old. The “Generational Shift” unfolding today is of historic significance, defined by the confluence of macro forces driving change at an extraordinary magnitude and pace. The Second Wave Millennials coming of age today have been shaped by those same forces of change. As such, the current generation gap is not only an important diversity issue, but also coincides with a qualitative transformation in the norms of life and work and society – at every level. Everything is changing so much and so fast that the youngest, least experienced people bring to the table a unique wisdom that comes from being in sync – much more so than older, more experienced people – with the immediate and intermediate future, like so many “canaries in the coal mine.” That’s why generational differences evident in today’s youth can serve as a powerful lens through which to understand the trajectory of today’s changing world.