The Evolution of Man?

Well, I survived my first blogging experience! A massive thank you to all who read and contributed to the ‘So I’m Part of the Dumbest Generation?’ discussion, I really appreciate your input. There were some great and incredibly thought-provoking points raised, so I want to take some time now to delve a bit deeper into your comments on the Gen-Y debate- and the wider implications that we as individuals, organisations and a society may face as a result.

Let’s start with an excellent point raised by Howard Rose. Howard’s argument was that anti-Gen-Y thinking is really very straightforward, and fundamentally unchangeable; because it comes down to the inherent desire of any given generation to approach the younger one with a certain level of suspicion and disdain, in order to find validation in themselves and the way they were raised. As Howard so succinctly put it, a negative approach is ‘the only way they can justify their own existence’. This response to generational divides is particularly interesting to me because I read an article on Gen-Y- Inspired Change a couple of days ago which really stuck with me- to the point where I started to exhibit the kind of primal ‘my generation’s better than the one to come’ behaviour which I had previously only ever experienced the opposite side of.

I’m wondering if I’m the only one who is slightly concerned that, ‘Among children 2 to 5 years of age who have internet access at home, more know how to play a computer game and use a smartphone than know how to ride a bike or tie their shoelaces.’ Sounds like pretty scary stuff. Or does it?

Before jumping straight to images of a generation of adults stumbling around with untied laces and heads stuck in smartphones, we need to think a bit more about evolution and remove ourselves from the destructive mind-set whereby every other generation is ‘just doing it all wrong’.

Check out this youtube video for a bit more context:  is this a horrifying concept, or is a change in internal operating system an amazing and positive leap?

Now: we have two options. We could start a proverbial witch hunt against this generation who will grow up knowing far more about technology than us (and this is regardless of whether the ‘us’ in question is Gen-Y or not!) and potentially will also know more about technology than other things that we currently see as integral parts of the growth process. Or, we could recognise that this is going to happen, to some extent or another; and that the energy expended in the futility of the fight is energy that we could invest, today. We have an opportunity to make real changes and play a part in shaping the future ready for Gen-Z to grow into, a future where we are not quite so challenged by their technological skill-set and way of thinking- because even if we don’t understand quite what makes them tick, we do understand that it’s something we have created.

The key to this? In my mind, it’s as simple as integration. And the great news- it’s already happening!

Dan Walker made a really interesting contribution on my last blog that got me thinking about the fact that some employers, his own included, are already doing some amazing things to engage their new employees. This is especially vital because when you think about it, it’s only logical that the exponential growth of technology within every level of education means that a failure to carry this through to the workplace only serves to disenfranchise Gen-Y employees. There is a massively destructive power in negative labelling and stereotyping, and the fact that some Gen-Y-ers encounter this is concerning. Now this might be a bit of a far-left statement, but it’s interesting to at least consider it as food for thought: going back to the whole idea of generational change, is technology actually becoming a step in our evolution? Are we currently at some mid-stage? And at what point do we draw the line between technology being a part of the world around us… and a part of ourselves? 

This inspiring video  demonstrates perfectly the extent to which we can merge the body and technology:

What do you think? I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on the idea of a ‘technological evolution’, as well as the things you have encountered or would like to see happening in your own workplace to integrate technology and bridge the generation gap.

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  • Hi Matthew,

    Apologies it's taken me a while to get back to you, and thanks for this- a VERY valid point! The introduction of technology into an organisation (in any capacity) should be done carefully, and always teamed with training. Those divisions are all too easy to create and near impossible to mend. Once the technology is in place and you have the 'savvy' and the 'not-savvy' - I can only imagine how much this must impact on productivity, morale and the general organisational dynamic.

    Were there provisions and training put in place at all when your technology was introduced? And if so, were the inconsistencies you experienced because these measures failed, or a general feeling of mistrust with the newly introduced technology?

  • Hi, I found the concepts expressed in this blog very interesting and thought provoking. My first thought is that while technology in the work place is, in my opinion, an important step forward, it can also be a step backwards. During the course of the last year my employer has sought to introduce a system where using hand held stock control equipment (Telxon guns) is essential during every phase of our daily routine. The problem is that while the process may work on paper, it fails to take account of the fact that it is being implemented in the real world; as a result numerous small inconsistencies undermine the process making it less reliable than allowing experienced employees to do what they do best. I also think that introducing this process work in an environment with a demographic which is probably not very computer savvy reinforces divisions. My point is, if technology is to be considered a part of our evolution, then it may be worth remembering that many species evolve in ways which result in their extinction, just look at the panda! Technology for technologies sake is not the answer.

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