Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Peter Sheahan: Flip to know the mindset of Gen Y


March 26, 2008
By Syed Akbar
Gen Y is not a group that's all the same, but it's an emerging mindset," - is how the international management consultant guru, Peter Sheahan, describes the present generation.
Sheahan, who is not yet 30, is already a consultant to powerful multinationals like Google, L'Oreal, Ernst & Young and Coca Cola. His recent publication, Flip - How to Succeed by Turning Everything You Know on its Head, has received international acclaim for his powerful tips and anecdotes on how to be a leader.
The author describes how counter-intuition is changing the rules of business faster than any other trend. Peter also talks about how one can learn from the flipstars (leaders) whose new approaches are leaving the old conventions to dust.
In a tête-à-tête with this correspondent, the management guru explains the meaning of the commonly used terms like Gen X and Gen Y.
"Anyone born between 1978 and 1994 is technically a member of Generation Y (and those born after 1965, and before 1978 are technically Generation X). But generational analysis using this model is, of course, flawed. To think that millions of Australians or Indians, born in that period will perfectly fit the Generation Y mould is stretching the model beyond its intent!" Peter argues.
He also says there are distinct and real trends in this age group, and understanding why and how Gen Y comes to think and act can give you a vital competitive edge in attracting, retaining and selling to this big-spending generation.
One of the fundamental differences between Gen Y and previous generations, as Peter would like to put it, is their connection to technology. Generation Y is the most connected generation in history. They are connected to each other, the "system", and the market. "The evidence is all around you - the saturation of the Internet and mobile phones, the power of viral marketing and the proliferation of consumer blogs."
"Your fundamental beliefs are formed in the first 20 years of your life. As you age, the elasticity level of the brain drops and with it your capacity to lay new neural pathways," Sheahan further explains.
This gets harder as the brain gets older. For Generation Y, these basic beliefs were being laid down during one of the rapid periods of technological advancement since the industrial revolution.
These technological advancements were primarily communicative, and have given rise to what many theorists call the Information Age.
This is the only world Gen Y has ever known.
"Older, experienced Generation X managers have a wealth of experience from which younger staff can learn, and to pass that on they obviously must do the talking for a significant portion of time. But whilst they know a lot, they don't know everything." And what he thinks of the present-day Indian businessmen? Peter says the new generation of Indian business people and entrepreneurs are a force to reckon with. They are smart, understand their local market and, in his experience, very kind and generous.
"I think India will be the source of some of the world's great entrepreneurs of this century and, no doubt, the next too. Bring on India I say. I think you have to commend them as they are operating in a market with a less sophisticated financial system, making capital raising more challenging and dealing with, what I understand, a significant bureaucracy. Again testament to the quality of Indian entrepreneurs."
He suggests that we celebrate our entrepreneurs and teach entrepreneurship to kids in school. The continual explosion of innovation and entrepreneurship will drive India to the top of world economy.
Peter has also given a new meaning to the term intrapeneur. "He is someone who operates like an entrepreneur - within someone else's business structure," he says.
A traditional entrepreneur goes into business for themselves - and sets up their own business structure. An intrapeneur is given licence by his employer to introduce entrepreneurial values and principles to their area of employment. "There could be a reward and recognition programme for them as well as some autonomy in return." says Peter
Peter, who received the 2003 MBN Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and in 2006, was voted the leading keynote speaker in Australia, wants more students to study science and technology.
He believes businesses are lot more competitive now and runs a number of employer branding programmes, helping organisations understand brand building as an employer and not focus their branding efforts entirely on an external audience.

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