Somebody once told me to avoid the bleeding edge and instead, focus on the leading edge. It’s sound advice and actually my age probably precludes me from doing anything bleeding edge anyways. But I sometimes can’t help but think I live between two different generations. The differences between those two generations create some interesting challenges and of course opportunities. Industry Week has a post on its site written by a Generation Y’er explaining how that generation thinks and works. It’s interesting because it helps explain where and how the future of the metals industry may look.
The author, Jason Ryan Dorsey outlines five basic characteristics of the Generation Y crowd (defined as having been born between 1977-1995). Some of these characteristics appear rather obvious such as “no expectation of lifetime employment. I’m Generation X and I think nearly all of my friends (they might not be metal peers) share similar views. But the point remains valid the Gen Y crowd thinks nothing of making a job change if the current role doesn’t offer sufficient challenges or opportunities (or as the author stated, “no longer fits our sleep schedule.) The second characteristic involves a sense of entitlement with big expectations. You know that one an employee does something great for three months and expects a big bonus! The third characteristic, “hunger for instant gratification and tangible outcomes, also has interesting ramifications. The author suggests this personality trait makes a Gen Y crowd more suited to project work, rather than the tasks of a particular job description. The final two involve, “a new relationship with technology and communication and a need for ongoing feedback. It’s a fascinating article and I would encourage all of you to take a read.
From a metals industry perspective, the Gen Y perspective provides so much context and understanding as to where the industry needs to be and where it will eventually go. Our MetalMiner audience spans multiple ages. Whereas the stereotypical purchasing manager is a 55-year old white guy (I say that with all due respect), the field of sourcing in general has rapidly become far more diverse. Every day, new and younger and more technologically dependent individuals are entering the workforce and rapidly displacing some of the old ways of doing things. As we look at how certain industries have embraced Twitter, moved toward video blogging and have created all new ways of interacting with their audiences, we find ourselves in the metals industry twisting around our virtual periscope hoping to bridge that transition among the generations.
To understand that the future of metals markets intelligence involves web-based tools, instant tweets on pricing, video/whiteboard price trend webinars, virtual conferences sharing the latest cost savings ideas, and open source capabilities for individuals to build their own tools makes our job so exciting. And though some of the characteristics of Gen Y make me a little uneasy, I welcome their contributions and feedback. No, we’ll never make it to the bleeding edge, you Generation Y’ers but knowing you are out there and growing in ranks keeps us and this industry, evolving.
And to borrow a page from the Gen Y handbook, this Gen X’er welcomes your feedback. Lreisman (at) aptiumglobal (dot) com.