The Synthetic Generation: Post-materialistic

The task of making something of the world rests on the shoulders of every new generation. They must set their course in this rapidly changing and confusing world. Their mission and expertise are the synthesis. This is not a punk rock generation that wants to destroy things. It is a generation that introduces new values: post-materialistic, focused on self-expression and self-actualization.

Post-materialistic does not mean that material things no longer matter. “Pecunia non olet” is the Latin saying: “Money does not stink”. But sometimes it does stink, and then it soon goes wrong. Young people disengage when it is not related to “higher” matters. Choosing one side in an ethical debate, for example as Nike did this year with its new campaign? Turnover rose because of the slogan “Believe in something”. Colin Kaepernick, the man in the picture, believed in something but it cost him his American football career. Not kneeling before the American anthem and flag at the start of the competition, drawing attention to the poor living conditions, racism and the violation of civil rights of black Americans, became expensive for him. The caption to the campaign reads aptly: “Even if it means sacrificing everything”. This step by Nike is generally seen as best practice for companies that want to appeal to the new value system of young people. The shares first went down, but turnover increased and young people joined in. In their eyes, Nike was on the right side of history.

And Nike is not alone in this quest. Gillette recently made a commercial where they made a case against bullying, #metoo and toxic masculinity. They asked themselves is this the best a man can get? During the FIFA World Cup, Bjorn Borg kicked off the Marriage Unblocked campaign, calling out countries which still don’t allow same-sex unions.

Greta Thunberg has become a global phenomenon since she raises awareness with her first school strike for global warming and climate change. Boyan Slat developed advanced technologies to rid the world’s ocean of plastic with his Ocean Clean Up initiative. Dutch historian Rutger Bregman who made an epic rant against the super-rich in front of the super-rich at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. Young people like Thunberg, Slat and Bregman are standing up for their standards and values. They demand action. They are not satisfied with the way things used to work. The system is broken and it needs to change. “We have started to clean up your mess. And we will not stop until we are done” said Greta Thunberg.

Gallup research shows that 88 percent of millennials want to work for a company for more than 5 years if they are “satisfied with the company’s goal”; only 27 percent report that they are satisfied with the values of their current company. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer 71% of the employees are looking for leadership from their CEO’s. It’s critically important for the CEO to respond to these challenging times. The new CEO must not alone lead the company, but they must also address industry issues, political events and national crises. New frameworks must be developed for this purpose, because the current organizational conceptual framework is no longer enough. New values such as wellbeing, happiness, self-actualization and self-expression will be at the forefront in this Synthetic Future. So act, before it is too late!

Want to learn more about the Synthetic Generation? Download the report here.

Image source: Nike. [Photo]. Kaepernick’s Nike ad.

Sander Duivestein

About

Sander Duivestein (1971) is a highly acclaimed and top-rated trendwatcher, an influential author, an acclaimed keynote speaker, a digital business entrepreneur, and a strategic advisor on disruptive innovations. His main focus is the impact of new technologies on people, businesses and society.

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