What do the “Millennials” think about the future? | WEF Global Shapers Survey

Each year the World Economic Forum surveys young people, targeting those aged 18 to 34, for their views on five areas:

  • Economy and global outlook
  • Governance and civic engagement
  • Technology and innovation
  • Values and society
  • Business and the workplace

This year over 31,000 people took part globally.

50% of the world’s population is under the age of 30. While they have a powerful voice, they are not being listened to by decision-makers. Here is what they have to say.

As with previous years, this year’s survey shows some interesting results:

I’m primarily interested in the technology and innovation and the business and the workplace answers, but before I dive into them I need to point out:

For the third year in a row, “climate change/destruction of nature” is ranked as the most serious global issue with 48.8% of votes.

I’ll leave that hanging there, it doesn’t need any more comment.

Moving on to technology and innovation:

An overwhelming number of young people think technology is “creating jobs” (78.6%) as opposed to “destroying jobs” (21.4%). This is consistent with the results of the 2016 survey for the same question.

I hope they are right, time will tell. My personal leaning is also towards that view, but I am concerned that those jobs will primarily benefit the rich and educated leaving behind whole sections of society.

The survey also shows that young people have a sophisticated approach to information sharing and also the quality of information that is being shared:

Although for young people the internet and free media are essential to feeling empowered, they value it to the extent that the content and information they are exposed to is factual and trustworthy. In times when fake news lends itself to being shared on social media, it is reassuring that youths feel responsible for changing such practices and ensuring factual information is circulated.

It’s not surprising that an age group that has grown up with the internet have built up a healthy caution about the content that is being pushed at them.

The rapid changes in technical capability are having a massive impact on business and the workplace:

I personally don’t like the term millennial, even though I used it in the title of this post, it carries too much baggage and stereotyping to be of much use (I’m not sure that I would class someone who is 34 as a young person either, as this report does). One of the stereotypes that the millennial term has propagated is tackled in the survey:

Young people feel that they are perceived as lazy, impatient and entitled and, as they are known as the “job-hopping generation”, are perceived as caring little for work. Our data, however, has so far drawn quite a different picture of who this young generation is.

The report goes on to explain that young people regard work as a key part of life, that they care about corporate responsibility and that they want to work on something that has a purpose amongst other insights. All attributes that are not too different to previous generations.

When I see surveys like this one I have a lot of hope for the future.

The survey report is below:

I could spend hours doing this… 2017 edition.

Over 8 years ago I wrote a piece entitled I could spend hours doing this… which outlined 14 steps to fritter away a few unproductive hours in the day. There’s been a lot of technical change since then, so I figured it was time to provide an updated guide.

The range of options have exploded, so where to start?

  1. Pick up your smartphone and check the notifications on there. Let them take you wherever they want to lead you. Mine first interesting notification for today happens to be an article on Medium so that’s where I go. Feel free to go wherever your’s takes you.
  2. At the bottom of the Medium article there is a range of more stories begging for my attention, but I choose to click on the arrow at the top of the screen which takes me to the list of articles that Medium has decided may be of interest to me.
  3. Ironically the second set of Medium articles are all within the Productivity section – 43 Bluepoints on productivity followed by 12 Productivity Hacks to Get Stuff Done are today’s favourite diversions. Lists are easy to consume and just as easy to forget. Bulletpoint 42 was a highlight: “Fac, si facis. That’s Latin for “Do it, if you’re going to do it.””
  4. From Medium it’s time to switch over to Flipboard, I’m not sure what the trigger was for this switch, but I’m freewheeling so anywhere is acceptable. Flipboard has an endless stream of articles so there’s little chance of running out of things to read. You can even read about the same thing from multiple sources if you want to get the same perspective from different people.
  5. Having spent some time on my smartphone it’s probably about the right time to switch devices particularly as that small screen and poor posture aren’t very good for me. Switching devices is another way of simulating that feeling of getting things done without having to actually do anything. Using multiple devices makes me feel busier, especially if I set up notifications on each of them.
  6. The switch to a different device need not precipitate a change of diversion, but there are plenty to choose from, so why not. Time to make the move to LinkedIn.
  7. LinkedIn is chocked full of distraction, you don’t need to venture very far from the home page, but if you do have some notifications that increases the goodness. Where are all those people I used to work with now? Who’s got a work anniversary? Who’s started a new position? Who’s posting corporately defined marketing material? Who’s liking corporate marketing material? Who’s commenting on an article? Not many of them. Who’s posted something from Medium? I could return to the top of the list at any time but decide, instead to move on.
  8. What’s up next? Twitter? You need to check both LinkedIn and Twitter because they are different constituencies. The stream of updates from Twitter can take me practically anywhere as long as I am following enough people and don’t set up any form of filtering. Following some news accounts and I’ll have fresh content all day, no need to get something done when you can live in the flow. But eventually, I get bored of Twitter and need to move onto another source.
  9. Blog posts are still, for me, the main source of information and for that I use Feedly. Feedly nicely goes around the internet and collects all of the blog posts, from all of the feeds that you’ve asked it to browse. Pick the right set of feeds and I’ve got a fresh crop of material every day and throughout the day. I can even point Feedly at Medium feeds and keep going around that circle as often as I like.
  10. I don’t know whether you’ve noticed, but I’m avoiding email. No need to worry though, there are still plenty of sources to go to. Slack is your next distraction for me. It’s time to look through the various communities and channels for more sources of distraction. Hopefully there’s a discussion ongoing somewhere that I can read through. If I’m fortunate someone in the organisation has set up a bot to scrape data from somewhere else into Slack, even more information to read through.
  11. In the modern workplace Slack isn’t the only port for collaboration distractions, if you are fortunate you’ve also got Yammer. There’s likely to be a discussion somewhere on Yammer that’s getting everyone heated about something wonderfully trivial.
  12. In the modern workplace Slack and Yammer aren’t the only ports for collaboration distractions, if you are fortunate you’ve also got Workplace by Facebook. Someone will have helpfully cross posted some of the content from each of the alternatives into each of the other alternatives. There are a nice collection of notifications waiting for my attention.
  13. In the modern workplace Slack, Yammer and Workplace by Facebook aren’t the only ports for collaboration distractions, if you are fortunate you’ve also got Microsoft Teams. I need to check all of the sources, because I don’t want to miss out on something important.
  14. To get another view of the work that others are doing there’s also Microsoft Office Delve. Delve will shows me a view of all of the important interactions going on in my network.
  15. I suppose that it’s time to check some email, but perhaps I should start with my personal email. If you are looking for further distraction the best way is to read personal emails on your smartphone. Hopefully you will receive a notification from one of the other apps on your smartphone to take you off exploring somewhere else.
  16. While I’m on my smartphone perhaps I should check one of the news apps that’s on there, I wouldn’t want to miss out on anything important.
  17. Hopefully, by this time, I’ve received a number of messages via the numerous messaging platforms that I’m subscribed to. I need to check each one because I never know what I may have missed.
  18. But then I really should check my work email. If you want to be really distracted don’t use any of the capabilities within your chosen email product and wade through each and every email, including the emails which are notifications from Twitter, Yammer, Workplace, etc.
  19. Randomly return to a step and restart the cycle from there.

Have I missed anything?

Outsourcing our Brain and the impact of SatNav

On Tuesday this week the Guardian wrote an article with the title: “All mapped out? Using satnav ‘switches off’ parts of the brain, study suggests”

This article was reporting on a study that was investigating the processes that the brain uses when mapping our environment and planning routes. The headlines emphasises that when we are receiving instructions our brain turns off many of these processes:

The study found that characteristic brain activity linked to simulating the different possible routes for a journey appears to be entirely absent when a person is following directions rather than independently planning a route.

The brain is quite good at not doing things it doesn’t need to do, but that has consequences.

Having read through the article I thought to myself that this would make a really interesting extension to an article that I had previously written on outsourcing our brain functions.

The basic idea of the post was that we use tools to outsource our brain functions and in so doing we risk reducing our brain function. By not exercising the brain capabilities we find ourselves in the place where we are dependent upon the tools and struggle to function without them. A basic example of this is the ability to do mental maths which, on my own unscientific assessment, is completely missing from the younger generation that has always had a machine to do this arithmetic for them. Another example is the memory of phone numbers which people no longer need to do; if you’ve given me your phone number in the last 5 years I probably don’t know it, I still know numbers prior to that time. This time coincides with increased use of mobile phones and no longer needing to know the number to call someone.

So where is the link to the post that I wrote?

I searched this blog for the post.

I searched Google for the post.

I searched my Evernote for this post.

I couldn’t find the post.

Without one of these tools telling me where this post is I’m stuck. Having outsourced that part of my memory I’m completely dependent upon them.

The irony wasn’t lost on me.

Do you have a wandering mind? It’s probably making you unhappy.

The other day we revisited the subject of multi-tasking and I talked about a few ways I try to remain focused. Focus isn’t just important for productivity, it’s also a core competency for happiness.

Back in 2010 Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert published a scientific paper titled: A Wandering Mind Is an Unhappy Mind.

We developed a smartphone technology to sample people’s ongoing thoughts, feelings, and actions and found (i) that people are thinking about what is not happening almost as often as they are thinking about what is and (ii) found that doing so typically makes them unhappy.

Let me say that a different way: spending your life thinking about things that aren’t happening is making you unhappy. You would be happier if you focused on the here and now.

So much of the multi-tasking that we do is an attempt to switch between multiple things that aren’t happening, it’s a type of active mind-wandering. How many times do we check our social media to see if something is happening only to be reminded that nothing is happening. How many times have you refreshed your social media site only to refresh it again, and then again without even thinking. The research tells us that this is making us unhappy.

Below is Matt Killingworth talking through his work at TEDx:

Matt also talked through his findings on the TED Radio Hour in 2014.

Productivity and Laziness: Is it time to cultivate laziness as a skill?

There’s a hugely popular mantra in all productivity schemes:

Work smarter not harder

Every time I hear this phrase I want to replace it with a different phrase:

What’s the lazy way of doing this?

Smart working is really, let’s face it, lazy working.

Laziness may not be the first word that springs to mind when you think about productivity, but you should embrace it as your friend.

Think about it, we do all sorts of lazy things to make us more productive.

Whenever you ride a bike rather than walking somewhere you are being lazy. It might not feel like it, but the bike gets you there quicker and takes you further than you could go without it. It’s lazy to ride the bike.

If you are using a phone to talk to someone you are being lazy. It’s easier than travelling to where that person is to talk to them (unless they are sat next to you).

Lazy people are constantly asking “why should I bother?” That’s a great productivity question, remember:

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Peter Drucker

I’ve seen countless business processes that add no value and were best ignored. Lazy people ignore these processes.

Lazy people experiment with doing things in different ways to see if they take more, or less, effort – they stick with the one that takes less effort.

We are surrounded by an increasing number of automation techniques, particularly in IT, yet I see people endlessly doing the same repetitive tasks. Lazy people let the machines do it for them.

I think that more of us should cultivate laziness as a skill.

"Tech is the new perk" according to Adobe Future of Work Survey 2016

Eighty-one percent of U.S. office workers say state of the art technology is important at work, outranking food and beverages (72%), a beautiful office design (61%) and on-site amenities (56).

Only one in four (26%) of U.S. office workers believes that their company’s technology is “ahead of the curve.” Indians are slightly more bullish (30%) while the U.K. is especially pessimistic (15%).

In the U.S., those who said their company’s technology is “ahead of the curve” love their work about twice as much and feel about twice as creative, motivated and valued compared to those at “behind the times” companies.

These are some of the findings from Adobe’s Future of Work Survey for 2016. The survey results were published in May 2016 under the title: Work in Progress encapsulating contributions from over 2000 workers from U.S., U.K. and India who use a computer daily for work.

One of the significant conclusions of this report, in Adobe’s words, is that “Tech is the new perk”. People would rather have good technology than access to food and beverage, lounge and relaxation areas, personalised workstations, beautiful office design and access to on-site amenities. This isn’t quite true across the three nations surveyed – in the U.K. we regard access to food and beverage as highly as we do technology.

These figures aren’t surprising in a world were we increasingly rely on technology to do our work. Personally I wouldn’t rank tech alongside perks at all, for many jobs that would be like classifying a van as a perk for a delivery person. Having the right level of technology is essential to doing a good job and doing a good job is a significant factor in most people’s job satisfaction. The problem is, we often expect people to do a good job without the right technology which is a bit like expecting a delivery person to carry a 3 tonne load in a 1 tonne truck. It’s not surprising that people in organisations with “ahead of the curve” technology feel more creative, motivated and valued – they probably are.