An intriguing article on Management Exchange looking at what the author Gary Hemel sees as the 12 characteristics of the “Facebook Generation“. I’m personally reluctant to adopt a generational breakdown of online activity, not least because the data is patchy and what there is points to corporate culture being more important than the age of users. Nonetheless, I think the following has some salient points:
The experience of growing up online will profoundly shape the workplace expectations of “Generation F” – the Facebook Generation. At a minimum, they’ll expect the social environment of work to reflect the social context of the Web, rather than as is currently the case, a mid-20th-century Weberian bureaucracy.
Hemel’s dozen needs to be read in full to do it justice, not least the last one on hackers, but here it is in truncated as headers:
1. All ideas compete on an equal footing.
2. Contribution counts for more than credentials.
3. Hierarchies are natural, not prescribed.
4. Leaders serve rather than preside.
5. Tasks are chosen, not assigned.
6. Groups are self-defining and self-organizing.
7. Resources get attracted, not allocated.
8. Power comes from sharing information, not hoarding it.
9. Opinions compound and decisions are peer-reviewed.
10. Users can veto most policy decisions.
11. Intrinsic rewards matter most.
12. Hackers are heroes.
If we look at this from a distance, the presiding shift is one of organisational power from the hierarchy to the individual and the team. The traditional structure of the Weberian or Fordist enterprise does not follow that pattern. Indeed, the most successful businesses still of course largely follow that pattern. Is there therefore a tectonic clash emerging between old and new? I personally doubt that, at least in any short terms view of economic structures. There is however a need seen here for organisations to take heed of these trends and to look at ways of adoption that adapt. To some extent this entails a change in culture that really is just that: a change in the very culture of how they operate. And it’s for that reason that introducing Enterprise 2.0 into a corporation is never straightforward or easy….