“You are all a lost generation” – Gertrude Stein as quoted by Ernest Hemingway
“Generation X is being skipped over” –session attendee at Great Ideas as paraphrased here.
The session attendee’s idea was one I had not really heard before, but which rang eerily true once spoken. Generation X had its brief moment in the spotlight—mostly for purposes of being called lazy—but attention has since moved to the Millenials (aka Generation Y). The point of the person who spoke up at Great Ideas is that organizations are pandering to the perceived needs of the Millenials, and are not making sufficient efforts to groom GenX’ers for leadership. Succession problems are sure to follow as Boomer’s retire.
Rationally, I know it cannot be true that an entire generation is being overlooked, but the thought did prompt me to do the math. Here are some typical date ranges applied to the generations. (I know people disagree–sometimes vehemently– about the ranges, but these are solid enough for my purposes here.)
So, assuming an average retirement age of 62 (likely low for true retirement), the youngest Boomers will exit the workforce in 2026, at which point the oldest Millenials will be 45—a ripe age for moving into the top levels of organizations.
Well, like I said, I know it’s not rational to think that an entire generation—my generation, I should add—could be effectively skipped over. Then again, I may just need to find a good café in Paris where I can think it over some more.
Postscript, Dec. 13, 2007
This probably belongs in the comments area, in response to Lisa Junker’s comment, but knowing that a lot of people don’t read comments, I’ve decided to update the main post. Lisa points to an excellent posting by Tammy Erickson at Harvard Business. I had not been familiar with Tammy’s blog before Lisa’s comment and was struck by the fact that her (admittedly much more knowledgeable) posting appeared on the same day as mine. Just another instance of the serendipity or collective consciousness I continually see in the blogosphere and have commented on before in Connections and Comparisons: The Wealth of Blogs and Benkler and Hawken Reunited.