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Gen Z Will Make Life Better for All of Us
The PreparedU Project has been and will continue to focus on issues affecting the millennial generation. At the same time, forces that have shaped Gen Yers are now having a profound effect, not just on the Generation Z cohort that follows, but on people of all ages, in all walks of life. This is the seventh in an eight-part series that will examine this rapidly encompassing phenomenon.
Welcome to the era of global connectivity. Embrace it as a member of Generation Z — a generation that transcends age and geography.
This is the invitation extended by Thomas Koulopoulos and Dan Keldsen in “The Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business.” The authors describe a world in which we work and play together on a common technological social platform.
The promise of the Gen Z Effect, they say, is that people across all demographics will have the opportunity to be involved in creating the future.
Gen Z is a destination, a mile marker for humankind, say Koulopoulos and Keldsen, a new world in which the work to be done as individuals and organizations and even nations is approached in a spirit of collaboration not divisiveness.
It demands we shake off old ways of thinking about the world. Let go of the outdated idea of distinct generations. Refuse to let such labels drive a wedge between people.
We met with Koulopoulos, Bentley University alumnus, former Bentley faculty member, and current president of the Delphi Group, to consider what we’ve learned about Gen Z:
I. Gen Z is simple.
Technology will unite us. Our cars, homes, toothbrushes and medicines will be talking to one another. The explosion of interconnected devices is at its early stages but eventually technology and communication will be integrated into our very beings as if we possess a sixth sense.
Koulopoulos: Our ability to connect with people and with things is going to be so incredibly different than it is today. Our behaviors and attitudes will change drastically. We’ll learn to be connected in ways that we cannot begin to imagine.
II. Gen Z is hyperconnected.
We’ll use online worlds to join communities that draw us into a global network. We’ll connect across traditional boundaries and redefine our cultural reality. Power will shift in society as people use digital realms to influence commerce and politics and popular opinion.
Koulopoulos: Every decade, the number of computing devices increases by one order of magnitude. By 2100, we’ll have as many computing devices as grains of sand on all the beaches of the world.
What will we do with all that connectivity? I think that even the most brilliant and expansive minds cannot answer that question right now.
III. Gen Z is educated.
Gen Z will be the first generation to see people everywhere gain access to education and the power that comes with it. The spread of online learning will draw huge populations in the developing world into the global economy.
Koulopoulos: We’re creating a whole new way to bring people into the economy and that to me is the most exciting aspects of education. So it’s very different type of workforce, a different type of economic model, a much richer one and also a very disruptive one.
IV. Gen Z is unified.
Different generations will learn from each other. Hyperconnectivity will increase engagement and trust, say the authors. People can come together to address seemingly insurmountable challenges such as escalating terrorism, climate change, income disparity, climbing energy costs.
Technological advances will create a disruption of the balance of power in nearly every existing institution — social, business, government — but join us in global community unlike any seen before.
Koulopoulos: We’ll be connecting minds across the globe. One of the things I’m passionate about is the fact that an economically engaged population is a population that is much less likely to continue to do the stupid things that devastate mankind. We become inter-reliant on each other. Our economies are intimately connected and so are our personal livelihoods.
A world where everyone is online and everyone is educated is one that is more capable of dealing with some of the big challenges that we face. It is a more positive future.
Ultimately, say the authors, “Gen Z Effect” is a book about hope, the hope that connecting humanity will transform our world for the good.
A final word from Koulopoulos and Keldsen: “We hope you will never again look at generational divides and accept them as a law of nature, and, through that lens of understanding you will decide to become part of Gen Z, the last generation of the information age and the first generation of the age of hyperconnectivity; a simple shift that we believe will change the world more profoundly than any revolution has.”
Are you ready for Gen Z? Here’s a last set of questions from Koulopoulos as we move toward a post-generational world.
- Do I attach myself so closely to a specific generation that I limit my ability to challenge outdated beliefs and behaviors?
- Do I quickly label others as belonging to a generation, biasing my opinions of their beliefs and behaviors?
- Am I holding onto technologies that I’ve become accustomed to — while others slingshot past me — only because they are technologies I’ve come to know?
Meg Murphy is a freelance writer.
The Gen Z Effect Series
Read all of the installments in this series:
|Ride the Technology Wave or Drown|
|Are You Ready for the Gen Z Slingshot?|
|You're Powerful and They Know It|
|How Online Learning Will Change the World|
|Lifehacking: A Playbook for Gen Z|
|Gen Z Will Make Life Better for All of Us|
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.