Strategy & Generational Gaps

“So, how might a member of Generation Y think about “strategy” that would be different from the way it’s “always” been done? Here are four things he may be wondering about:

  1. The underlying philosophy: Do others have to lose for us to win? Boomers, themselves competitive and driven, are conditioned to ask “how can we win?” But as the cost of communication decreases, businesses are becoming part of a complex network. And, the rule of network economics is that open systems — systems that allow others to play — are the ones that win. Could our strategy be based on the principle of allowing all participants to benefit from the transaction? Should we?”


“Generation X’ers, already part of most strategy discussions, should also be encouraged to bring their personal perspectives to the table, rather than conform to the established ways of shaping strategy. Given their mistrust of institutions and desire for self-reliance, Gen X’ers are natural options thinkers — in their personal lives, most have back up plans, carefully considered if something bad were to happen. In corporate strategy, X’ers may wonder about:

  1. The process for setting direction: Is forecasting a viable approach? Many organizations still invest significant resources trying to determine the most-likely single point forecast. But, in an uncertain environment, understanding the range of plausible outcomes can be far more valuable. Have we pushed to understand the extremes? Is our strategy viable under a broad range of possible scenarios?”

-Tammy Erickson, HBR Blog Network


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