At last week's Nonprofit Learning Point annual conference, close to two hundred Richmond nonprofit employees and consultants gathered to hear keynote speaker Peter Brinckerhoff address the current round of generational change impacting American society. I wasn't startled by Brinckerhoff's presentation, as I'd been paying pretty close attention for several years to the ways in which the generational shifts have been – and will continue to – impact organizations. But Brinckerhoff's good humor, engaging style and succint approach to six major trends he sees stretching across the Boomer/GenX/Millennial divide made the morning both enjoyable and educational.
He began by giving the audience some deeper clarity on what divided the three primary generations populating our organizations today (he did also speak to the generations that came before Boomers, and who still play a big role in our culture) – essentially:
- Boomers = Television shaped their worldview. They think they saved the world in the 1960s. They're ready to save it again.
- Generation X = Personal computers changed their worldview. They're half the size as Boomers and Millennials, population-wise. They value work/life balance.
- Millennials = (Brinckerhoff calls them Generation@) Technology is invisible to them; it's like air. They like doing things in groups. They're smart, and eager to contribute.
It was Brinckerhoff's overview of six cultural trends connected to the generational shift that I found most interesting – it echoes some of the work I've done with local nonprofits as it relates to changes in demographics, diversity and technology. The six big areas Brinckerhoff explored were:
- Financial Stress
- Technological Acceleration
- Population Diversity
- Redefinition of Family
- Me Branding
- Work/Life Balance