Generational Diversity and Communication

Generational Diversity and Communication

Robert W. Wendover, director of the Center for Generational Studies, has written an intriguing article about the challenges of decision-making for digital natives.   Digital natives are persons who grew up with digital technology. In the article titled Decidiphobia: Getting Today’s Digital Natives to Think for Themselves, Wendover explores how technology has shaped the mindset of most digital natives and describes what organizations can do to enhance the decision-making skills of this generation. Wendover clearly qualifies that not all digital natives exhibit “decidiphobia.”

CGSThe Center for Generational Studies conducts generational research and teaches organizations how to “overcome their cross-generational challenges.”  Their website includes a suggested reading list, which can be found at http://www.generationaldiversity.com/index.php?/suggested-reading.html.

An article in the Journal of Association Leadership, “Moving Beyond the Hype about Generational Diversity,” offers a slightly different perspective.  While affirming the need to be knowledgeable about generational diversity, the author asserts that knowledge about such differences oversimplifies the cross-generational challenges an organization faces and often leads to dangerous results.  For example, generational differences are “broad cultural generalizations” which, when applied to individuals, is stereotyping.  Furthermore, an overreliance on generational theory can influence organizations (congregations) to make major investments in new products or services (ministry) to reach a particular generation.  Such decisions may or may not work within a given context. To address the dangers of overreliance on generational diversity studies, the author underscores the value of communication across generations within an organization (congregation).  He advocates the “discipline of conversation” as a responsible way to apply generational knowledge within a given context.

What do you think?

  • In what settings might you “test” generational generalizations in your congregation?
  • Where in your congregation have you seen expressions of generational differences?
  • What challenges have those differences created?
  • How have those challenges been addressed?
  • How might a deeper understanding of generational diversity impact your congregation?
  • What might it look like if your congregation would engage in the “discipline of conversation” across generations?

 

Nancy DeMott
Resource Director