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Twitch Speed: Reaching Younger Workers Who Think Differently

Every parent, instructor, and manager knows that “Nintendo children”–those born after 1970 and raised on video and computer games, Walkmans, the internet, etc. –are different. Unfortunately, the Gen-X discussion has focused mainly on the youths’ purportedly short attention covers and attention-deficit disorders, ignoring or underemphasizing what is perhaps the main factor–that this under-30 generation thinks, and sees the world, with techniques entirely not the same as their parents.

An example: This generation grew up on video games (“twitch speed”), MTV (more than 100 images a minute), and the ultra-fast speed of action films. Their developing minds learned to adjust to speed and survive on it. Yet when they join our companies, we typically start by putting them in corporate classes twitch error 2000, earning poor speakers to lecture at them, and making them sit via an endless series of corporate videos.

Speedwise, we effectively give them depressants. And then we wonder why they’re bored.

I don’t mean to claim that Sega and Sony have created new intelligent performance in under-30s but, rather, that technology has highlighted and reinforced certain cognitive aspects and de-emphasized others. Most of these changes in cognitive style are positive. But however one feels, it’s important that administrators (as well as educators and parents) observe that these changes exist so that we can deal with the younger generation effectively.

Below are 10 of the main cognitive style changes, which raise a number of important and difficult challenges. We have already initiated to see the development of start up company structures, ideas, and products that take into account under-30 employees’ cognitive changes and preferences. It’s probably that the full impact of these changes will not be felt prior to the younger generation fully comes to power, just as the films were impacted by the coming-of-age of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. That point is not far off.

Twitch Speed versus. Conventional Speed

The under-30 generation has had far more experience at processing information quickly than its predecessors, and is therefore better at it. Humans have invariably been capable of operating at faster-than-“normal” rates of speed (as air pilots, race-car drivers, and speed-reading master Evelyn Wood can attest). The difference is that this ability has now moved into a generation in particular, and during infancy. One problem this generation faces is that, after MTV and video games, they essentially hit a stone wall–short of piloting a jet, little in real life moves that fast. This generation’s “need for speed” manifests itself at work in a number of ways, including a demand for a faster pace of development, less “time-in-grade, inch and shorter lead times to success.

An important challenge for today’s administrators is how to reassess and speed up their assumptions around time, while still keeping view of other key objectives, such as quality and customer relationships. They also need to create experiences that take care of the pace and exploit the facility of “twitch speed” while adding content that is important and useful. Several possible approaches include speeding things up via technology (such as by providing workers with the kinds of real-time data that financial traders use), installing faster infrastructures with fiber-optic cable and T-1 telephone lines, and creating new, MTV-style corporate videos. Re-engineering systems and activities so that things simply move faster is another.

Parallel Processing versus. Linear Processing

A lot of the under-30 generation grew up doing homework as you’re watching TV and doing almost everything while wearing a Walkman. Many of them feel convenient than their predecessors doing more than one thing at once. While some claim that this limits awareness of any one thing, this is not necessarily the case. The mind can actually process many tracks at once and often has quite a bit of “idle time” from its primary task which they can use to handle other things. Today you see young computer artists creating wonderful graphics while listening to music and communicating with co-workers, and young lenders having multiple talks on the phone while reading their computer screens and e-mail.

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