People under age 30 are better at absorbing information and making decisions quickly than any previous generation says Marc Prensky in the article Capturing the Value of Generation Tech Employees. He goes on to identify these young people as digital natives because they are the first generation to have grown up in a digital environment.
Richard Saul Wurman estimates in his book Information Anxiety 2 that today’s college grads have spent 10,000 hours playing video games and countless hours surfing the Web and using Instant Messenger, chat rooms, and email.
Prensky refers to the rest of us as digital immigrants — an older generation that has migrated into the digital world. According to Prensky, we immigrants will never be as fluent in the new technology as the natives. When it comes to business, he suggests that older executives, even those who have been relatively successful digital immigrants, need to be mentored by the younger digital natives.
Prensky is right. There is no greater business trend than the digitizing of just about everything in the twenty-first century. Jack Welch when he was still at the helm of GE had his top 1,000 managers enter a mentoring relationship with young GE employees.
But those managers were the mentored, not the mentors. They were looking to the youngest among GE’s multitudes for the understanding needed to lead enterprises. There isn’t an organization in the small business marketplace that wouldn’t do well to take a page from Welch’s book.