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Publisher's Summary

Learn how generation gaps are actually just part of a historical pattern - a pattern we can use to forecast market, workplace, and social trends for decades.

From the July 2007 issue of Harvard Business Review.

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©2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, All Rights Reserved; (P)2007 Audible Inc.

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  • Gail
  • Seattle, WA, United States
  • 11-25-12

They Missed The Foundation Trilogy Lesson

I respectfully request the authors and their targeted Corporate Strategic Planners and Grand Positioning Gurus read the above then consider carefully the concept of the MULE. I will do my best to "Just stick to the facts, M'am..." This is a well written description of common attributes and the prime factors influencing the behavior of the six generations currently living/inhabiting our nation (GI, Silent, Boomer, Gen-X, Millennial and Homeland). The paper focuses on these six generations out of the 19 generations who have inhabited the US since the landing of the Mayflower in 1620. The paper contends that each generation is distinct due to how they were raised as children, public events witnessed in adolescence and social missions taken on as young adults. The authors contend that generations developed by similar life experiences develop similar personae and that historical precedent proves their actions can be measured thus predicted for decades in the future. To me the unique and interesting (even brilliant) analysis begins as the authors define four major kinds of generations: Prophet, Nomad, Hero and Artist...and place each of our six current generations into a slot. So far so good. But then they start predicting the future 20 years to help the corporate planners but they totally miss the defining horror, the elephant in the room the media, and our leaders want us to ignore: In 1974 our national debt was $484 billion…it is now approaching an unprecedented $16 trillion! One might say each of the current six generations suffered MULE event but that is not true. These generations endured The Great Depression, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam War – but accrued only $484 billion debt, only to have it skyrocket to 16 trillion in less than a decade. (The national debt is the sum of all the money the government has borrowed plus the interest it must pay to the lenders. The 'national deficit' is the shortfall for one year only). With Global GDP's hovering around 1.6% or less for the past five years or so, these poor Homeland kids will not be able to even pay the interest on the US debt even if they took in many multiples the entire Global GDP. It isn't rocket science, just arithmetic. It is true that our country is and will continue to be unable to repay its debt and no magic pill or solution can save the day and while we can keep printing $$ and kick the can down the road and keep eternally bailing out the investment bankers and banks, there will reset of sorts which in my opinion will impact not only the Homeland generation and their predecessors, but as far ahead as I am able to I do the math, certainly the remaining generations of the century. Yet, also in my opinion, this reset while hugely painful will reveal undreamed of possibilities to these same generations...just not those surmised by this paper. Also, a Prophet could show up...I hope sooner than later.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful