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There are also some potential negatives. What constitutes organizational loyalty? How do you motivate workers? What makes the intergenerational management process effective when the intergenerational behavior and even communications processes are increasingly out of joint? Will we need new forms of automated translation to convert the semantics of business our generation uses to the semantics of task structure our children create on the fly? How will we validate work processes when we can't perform them ourselves? Remember Clarke's Law: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Will we be comfortable when most of our workers become highly accomplished magicians?
Perhaps I'm worrying too much. After all, the education we give our children, particularly in high school and beyond, seeks in part to renormalize their behavior into a model that we (and their teachers) are more comfortable with. By the time they enter the work force, we may have slowed them down to something closer to our level. Every generation tries to do this to its children to some extent, but no generation succeeds entirely; otherwise, we would never make any progress at all. I wonder how successful we will be in maintaining our current model of the workplace and the linear structure of work. I wonder what we, as managers, technologists and leaders will need to do to keep workeven work that is supported by the increasingly sophisticated technologies at our disposalfrom being unbearably dull to the next generation. And finally, I wonder when and where the tipping point will be, when we finally lose the ability to undertake the work of the enterprises we manage and, like every generation, have to trust our children to get it right.
Should be an interesting decade.
John Parkinson is chief technologist for the Americas at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.