In a Nutshell: Millennials are entitled. Gen X are cynics. Boomers aged out of idealism. These kinds of stereotypes aren’t just limiting, they obscure deeper truths about the differences between generations and the cyclical trends that can help us understand what’s coming next. Bobby Duffy says many of today’s popular ideas around generational differences are superficial stereotypes that miss the majority of what’s actually happening among generations.
My Key Takeaways:
- Take in the whole person. Generational labels reduce age groups to one identifiable — and often marketable — characteristic rather than considering how societies really evolve over time.
- Aging is a constant. Growing older tends to have similar effects on people regardless of their generational label. For example, millennials aren’t any more idealistic than earlier groups of 20-somethings; and history tells us they’ll probably become a bit more conservative as they age, just like their boomer parents did.
- How generations relate and react to each other can be more impactful than the values we assign to those generations.
- How the Period Effect, Life Cycle Effect, and Cohort Effect combine to shape generations.
- The limits to the popular “Fourth Turning” generational theory that COVID, the Great Recession, and rapid technological change may have exposed.
- Prof. Duffy’s advice to companies that are struggling to align multiple generations of workers to a single culture.
Complementary podcast: Rohit Bhargava has built a media empire around the “non-obvious” trends that shape how we live and work. Our most recent conversation was about moving past diversity to true inclusivity. Listen/read here.