Posted by: gregistheanswer | June 13, 2008

“Insights Into Cultural Understanding” by Joel Martin

Joel Martin, featured in The Answer, is a trainer, coach, and consultant. See her bio here. Fascinating and passionate insights will now begin…

“Back in the day” the transformational trainer would float or charge confidently to the front of the room with the elevation that knowledge, dedication, and vision brings. Then he or she and would stand and with utmost seriousness, let us know that it was time for a new way of thinking. Of course we all knew who’s way of thinking was not working or not working as well as we wanted it to. It wasn’t that we were broken, we wanted to have the glow, the elan, the spirtednesss that the person who told us about this journey had. We were the folks called today Boomers, and we walked out believing that YES we could make a difference. The references that resonated within us were J F Kennedy’s declaration that we could send a man to the moon and back “by the end of the decade” that the way to live the training was to share it with others…

Today, things are vastly different. Many of those born in the eighties and later, Generations X and Y, are not participating in transformational trainings. What are we looking at in terms of evidence? Lower registrations. As we say, “rocks are hard and water’s wet” and a fact is a fact. Maybe not everywhere but it’s not like the good old days. What’s going on? Why? Is it skepticism? Because it is not measurable in the short run? Because it isn’t specific or it’s too personal or too “in your face”? Or because technology and familiarity have breed contempt? Or because ‘we’ haven’t reached them in media or language that they respond to? Or is it some other reason? (I would love to hear what you think about this.)

These are young people who have grown up with the importance of sports statistics, acting as coaches and General Managers with fantasy football, baseball and basketball teams. With video and computer games that provide immediately feedback and escalating personalized challenges. The games get more difficult as in life as you go along.

Another change is the use of language and the expansion of the meaning of words. For example being in a “community” (a social group of any size whose members reside in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage) “(a close, familiar, and usually affectionate or loving personal relationship with another person or group) encompassed more back in the day than what we have become used to. We Boomers thought of community as family, friends, neighbors, or intimates of school and work. The way newer generations define communities include movies they like, food they cook , places they want to visit , youtube, Linkedin, myspace, and a variety of other groupings. Hey you can even find your significant other online. Who’d have thunk it.

Intimacy is another example. It’s still about who do I trust to know what is important to me, but you don’t need to know them. Blogs, Social Networks and Text Messages, which has allowed for intimacy with people or groups that have never met personally and in truth may only know each other by your gravatar (globally recognized avatar ) or on-screen persona.

These communities, unlike 1950 fan clubs, provide for “immediate” sharing feedback But what is different is the “web”. The web provides for immediate sharing, feedback, evaluation and creating new personal objectives.

Placing 300 people in a room to watch transformation happen, does not happen as often now.

Today, the newer generations are leery of all things costly that claim a secret intellectual value. With their laptops and cell phones, they compare notes within their various communities, they ascertain value quickly and ask the question “is there an Open Source ?” alternative that allows them to participate in a deeper way. Has anyone in my social network written a review on Digg or Stumbleupon – everyone is and can be an authority.

Privacy is another concern. They are used to learning in groups and sometimes anonymously using nicknames, avatar, gravatar etc. and creating their own communities to help facilitate their learning. Don’t try to share their information or take them for granted or they will turn on you. (Facebook)

Life is a Dress Rehearsal, in “ Second Life “. They can split their interest and personality and not feel conflicted.

Open Source is most often related to software but can also be thought of the opposite of sole source, as in “Sole Source Contracts” proprietary knowledge. In part because of OpenSoure, intricate games that simulate life like situations have been developed that provide the player with clues on how it is to be a race car driver, air plane pilot, an urban development planner and much more. In the process with groups playing within groups, they learn about leadership, developing strategy, building teams, making mistakes and experiencing success.

In one of their HBR posts John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas use the term “Gamers Deposition” in which they point to “five key attribute”of the gamer, which in my view is the same as saying post-1970 generation.

  1. They are bottom-line oriented.
  2. They understand the power of diversity.
  3. They thrive on change.
  4. They see learning as fun.
  5. They marinate on the “edge.”

Examining these five attributes, it becomes apparent that this new generation(s) are learning and applying the same principals we used to spend weeks doing in both business and personal trainings. This is how we did and may still phrase our work.

  1. Have a good relationship with your results.
  2. Everyone has a purpose and can contribute
  3. Embrace change, change is good.
  4. Discover and maximize your potential
  5. Push the envelope with outside the box thinking.
  6. Be personally responsible
  7. Be first then do to have

If I use the words “out of the box ” in one of my workshops, I could easily be asked by one of my participants, what box? If so, I’d probably be a little embarrassed, knowing that for this new generation their is no box and that “edge” for them is totally about a “Way of Being”. (Yes, some contextual distinctions continue to reign supreme.)

We don’t need to know it all, just be interested in learning.

The Internet is enabling a democratic learning process that for pre-1970 generations looks like anarchy. Who is in control here and who has the last word? The web has made it possible for us all to stumble upon new knowledge together. It’s good not to have experts, they can always in time proven wrong, then right, then wrong again. It’s a lot more interesting this way.

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