A Response To “Generation Flux” (from Fast Company)

Posted by on Sep 23, 2012 in Life | 4 Comments

Today’s post will require a tiny bit of pre-work.

Earlier this year, Fast Company published a fascinating article called This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New (And Chaotic) Frontier Of Business. Overall, it’s a fantastic piece and I’d highly recommend reading it.

The other reason I want you to read it, however, is because I’m going to be rebutting a couple of points from the article below. (You can read the article online here or download a free PDF of it here.)

Before I get into that, I wanted to highlight a few really poignant quotes from the feature. There are a lot of great ones…

Big Important Points:

  • “The business climate, it turns out, is a lot like the weather. And we’ve entered a next-two-hours era [where we can’t predict anything beyond that.]”
  •  “Any business that ignores these transformations does so at its own peril.”
  •  “We need to systematize change.”
  •  “Most big organizations are… absolutely horrible at solving ambiguous problems–when you don’t know what you don’t know.”
  • “Do we really want to return to a world of just three broadcast channels?”
  • “Flexibility of skills leads to flexibility of options. To see what you can’t see coming, you’ve got to embrace larger principles.”
  • “The key is to be clear about your business mission. In a world of flux, this becomes more important than ever.”

Next, my two rebuttals…

Missing The Mark #1:

The article’s author states that there is no credible long-term picture for what will define the next era, saying: “If there is a pattern to all this, it is that there is no pattern.” I wholeheartedly disagree, and actually find this perspective to be quite unhelpful.

It turns out, people scattered across many disciplines and industries are talking about this shift, and about what humanity can and is becoming. The challenge is that these futurists are often so dispersed that it’s hard to hear the narrative.

This is one of the primary reasons I wrote Igniting the Invisible Tribe in the manner I did: I wanted to capture these scattered visions and pull them together in a single, cohesive, and compelling account that could help everyday folks like me make sense of all the changes. There are patterns — and, frankly, they are incredibly exciting.

Missing The Mark #2: 

There’s a quote in the article that says the work revolution we are experiencing has “come to technology first, but will reach every industry.” The last part of this sentence is very, very true. The first part, though… notsomuch.

We’ve become comfortable with viewing technology as an industry unto itself, but it is not. Technology is simply an extension of mentality, led by early adopters and cultural pioneers. Technology is a tool we use to make whatever we’re really doing easier (hopefully).

This is an important distinction, because what the new economy is actually demanding is work that is more connected, human, and meaningful than it used to be. These are all things that technology can promote… or erode. Technology is value-neutral. Its effects can be very bad or they can be very good. What makes the difference is what we choose to do with it. (I will say this point does get a limited mention towards the end of the report.)

What did you think of the article? Leave a comment below!

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If you liked that post, then try these…

God Is Not Gonna Paint Your Van by Josh Allan Dykstra on May 5th, 2009

Bureaucracy: The Shell As Hard As Steel (& What Comes Next) by Josh Allan Dykstra on December 19th, 2011

What We’re Missing About The Science Of Strengths on ICF by Josh Allan Dykstra on June 26th, 2014

4 Comments

  1. Kent Kirschner
    October 17, 2012

    Josh,

    I picked up this edition of Fast Company prior to heading out for a trip up to Toronto from my Florida home. It’s many months later, but I was finally getting around to reading the January issue. (thank you print editions!) And I agree, an extremely value point of view to consider in this modern era. Thanks to you for taking it a step further and kudos for put yourself into the middle of such an important conversation. I’m now learning more about what you do and seeing how your impact will be felt and potentially benefit me and my community of friends and coworkers.

    Reply
    • Josh Allan Dykstra
      October 17, 2012

      Hey Kent, thanks for your comment! If there’s any way I can help you in your work, just let me know.

      Reply
  2. Simon Robinson
    October 21, 2012

    Hi Josh

    Really interesting post of yours. I tried to look at the article on tribes but it’s password protected. Is it no longer available to read?

    Also, I have written my own response here:

    The Blind Spot of Generation Flux
    http://wp.me/p11Bag-zK

    I had thought about collating other responses such as yours for a new article, but the term hasn’t really taken off yet, not like Generation X. Maybe its because the notion of new patterns doesn’t seem to come into it?

    Reply
    • Josh Allan Dykstra
      October 22, 2012

      Hey Simon,

      Thanks so much for sharing your link — I really enjoyed your thoughts, particularly in regards to the lack of long-term thinking reflected in the article, and about the importance of understanding order in living systems. I really couldn’t agree more with your thoughts here.

      I’m not sure the Gen Flux term will take off, because it’s not really a generation. I’m fairly certain we’re experiencing an evolution of consciousness (and seems like you agree) — if that’s the case, the Flux label is probably flawed from the outset. This transition being “bigger than a generational thing” was one of the things I realized pretty early in the research for my book, and frankly, one of the things that made it so darn difficult to write. ;-)

      That page you tried to access will be back soon — it’s not an article, but a link to buy a signed copy of my new book (where I talk about all this stuff in much more detail). I’m waiting for copies of the book to arrive and as soon as they are, signed copies of the book will be available! If you’d like, the book is now available on Amazon: http://bit.ly/invisible-tribe-amazon.

      Fantastic to meet you!

      Reply

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