Neil Tambe

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I'm a Detroiter who happens to enjoy writing, national parks, orange juice, the performing arts, and fanciful socks. More than anything though, I aspire to be a good husband, father, and citizen.

Fighting Gen Y Short-termism

There's a lot of pop-sci about Gen Y, some of which is probably true and some of which is probably hyperbole. Who really knows whether we Gen Yers are narcissists or not and whether we'll stay that way? Maybe we're exceptionally minded, maybe we're not, and maybe that'll change. Who knows.

Let's assume for a moment that Gen Y, generally speaking, tends to want efforts from their work to make an impact quickly. Let's assume that it's also true that Gen Y will change jobs more quickly, on average, than other generations have.

If that's the case, we Gen Yers are probably more likely to have a short-term frame of mind. After all, anyone who is going to change jobs rapidly probably doesn't want his/her effort to only result inincremental wins that are a small part of a much larger impact (that takes a long time to come to fruition). That person probably wants complete something, from start to finish, with results, in a short amount of time.

The danger is, there are lots of really important projects (like the popular Gen Y ambition to "fix" education) that take longer than a few years to start coming together, let alone complete. So, having a bias toward making an immediate, end-to-end, impact probably makes Gen Yers avoid doing things that generate returns only after a long time. Such Gen Yers would probably opt for doing something that they could see immediate results for and/or complete in short period of time.

So, I think we need to temper our Gen Y short-termism, even if it means focusing less on generating impact of our efforts very quickly. If we don't, we may never choose to work on the projects that are crucially important but require digging into for many years or across the lifetime of more than one generation.

Please do say hello: neil.tambe[at]gmail[dot]com