Monday, May 18, 2009

When Gen X Runs The Show

That's the title of a (very!) brief article on that is part of 12 stories they bunched together as "The Future of Work." The title piqued my interest, of course, but I was a bit disappointed with the content. According to this five paragraph story, in 2019 Gen X will be in charge.


Yep. Magically in that year, we will suddenly be in charge. Though only some of us, because they put Gen X as people born between 1965 and 1978 (Millennials get 21 years for their generation, but we only get 13). Then the article goes on to say that Boomers, in fact, won't retire. They'll just start consulting and job-sharing (so how do we get in charge again?). It also states that we'll have a tough time being in charge because the Millennials are different: they don't want to pay their dues or work their way up the ladder in one job (umm, I think that's Gen X you're talking about).

Now I see why Scott Briscoe is anti-generations. I think articles like this make it worse. They throw around loose terms and generalizations, some of which cut across generations, with no explanation (or even links) to back it up. They found the big-name authors and got pithy quotes. The quotes themselves are fine, but stringing quotes together does not give you wisdom. 

They would have done better to take  each point and turn it into an article. How about an article on what Boomers not retiring is going to do to the workforce? Or another one on the shift in the value of "seniority" in terms of compensation and status in the workforce. And another one on the role of video games in preparing workers to better handle work situations moving into the future. Less hype, please, and better conversations about what matters.


Eric Lanke said...

Jamie, you beat me to this one. When I read this piece in Time I was actually livid.

By my count, this 648-word article titled "When Gen X Runs the Show" has exactly 47 words in it about Generation X. That's 7%. They do come right at the beginning, though, so if the reader isn't paying attention they may not realize that the rest of the article is really guessed it--Millenials and Boomers.

I've addressed this in one of my first posts on this blog ( It's, in fact, one of the reasons we started this blog. It already seems like the only stories written about generational change in the workplace are attempts to answer only one of two questions: (1) Are those passionate Baby Boomers ever going to retire? or (2) How the heck are we going to manage those crazy Millenials? So I'm used to Gen X being the forgotten generation, but in an article titled "When Gen X Runs the Show"? Give me a break.

And what about that picture? If you're Gen X and you manage people, go look at the picture Time chose to accompany their article "about" Gen X being in charge. The person behind the desk is usually perceived as the boss, so are we supposed to think that the kid in Converse All-Stars and playing with the paddle game is the Gen X supervisor "running the show"? In 2019? When Gen X (according to their dates) will be between 41 and 54 years old? I don't know whether I should laugh or cry.

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