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Roundtable: Exploring the Generation Gap

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 09-15-2003 Print
In late July CIO Insight convened a roundtable on youth and the future of the workplace to discuss how the Net Generation is starting to reshape the workplace—and the challenge to CIOs.

The digital generation— the largest in history—is just starting to step into the workplace, bringing with it dramatically new demands, ideas and attitudes. Are you ready for the revolution?

Just as the post-World war II Baby Boomers of the TV generation dictated the economic, political and business agenda of its time, today's Net generation—the first to be born into an all-digital world—is developing its own culture and is just starting to impose it on the workplace.

Some 80 million strong in the U.S. alone, the N-generation is the offspring of the children of the boomers. They're the Baby Boom "echo." Yet what makes them formidable is not so much their sheer numbers or technology acumen as much as their attitude toward authority. This generation, now between the ages of 6 and 26, thinks differently, behaves differently and is already starting to demand, aggressively, big changes in the way society, business and individuals interact. Is your workplace prepared for the changes?

To discuss the coming revolution, CIO Insight Executive Editor Marcia Stepanek convened a roundtable on youth and the future of the workplace at the magazine's editorial offices in Manhattan on July 24. The ten participants included a Silicon Valley high school teacher, a couple of child techno-prodigies and a father-son CIO duo in middle-age and retirement. Most agreed the N-generation will alter the power balance between managers and workers, forcing today's leaders to forge new partnerships with employees in which authority will be based less on seniority than on the negotiated abilities of people or teams, regardless of age, to execute change, promote new skills and harness emerging technologies in the service of business goals.

Fred Crawford

Age 40

Executive Vice President, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young

Michael Furdyk

Age 21

Cofounder and Director of Technology, TakingITGlobal.org

Darwin A. John

Age 65

Special Advisor to the Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation and former CIO, FBI

Steven John

Age 42

CIO, Agriliance LLC

Glenn Kelman

Age 32

Vice President of Product Management and Marketing, Plumtree Software Inc.

Jory J. Marino

Age 53

Managing Partner, Global CIO Practice, Heidrick & Struggles

John Patrick

Age 58

Former IBM Vice President of Internet Technology

Michael Roberts

Age 29

Executive Project Manager, Cap Gemini Ernst & Young

Don Tapscott

Age 56

President, New Paradigm Learning Corp. and Adjunct Professor of Management

Felicia Webb

Age 29

Teacher, Director, Cisco Systems Networking Academy Program, Gunderson High School, Silicon Valley

The good news? CIOs will be at the center of the changes, given fresh opportunities to integrate new ideas and technologies into the business fabric of their organizations. Those who resist? They'll be forced out, or banished to the sidelines. What follows is an edited version of the roundtable. For a complete transcript, click here.


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