So Who are the Centennials?

With a new U.S. Presidential Administration, I have been thinking a lot about the future of my little nephew, who is just a toddler now. Like other aunties, I worry about the longterm impact of current votes on our Earth, our communities and our economy. My nephew is considered a "Centennial.” I thought I'd take a moment and learn more about the Centennials and what tools they will have to combat some of these "orders" and "choices." 

Centennials, or Generation Z, are kids born in 1997 or after. They are 25% of the population of the United States (about 78 million people). Nearly 48% of them are minorities. They seem to have an excellent grasp on the challenges they face in their generation; those of decreasing environmental resources like water and increasing cultural issues like religious wars. They have learned that being different is okay. They have learned not to be too risky. However, they have also learned to adapt by working around challenges and building their own solutions. Remember, this is the first generation to live entirely with the internet. They have been surfing the web their whole lives. So this makes for a more serious, more open-minded person, albeit with a short attention span.

Jacob Morgan’s article Generation Z and the 6 Forces Shaping the Future of Business, argues that it's time to start "breaking generations," meaning we need to stop labeling and catering to these generational characteristics as a whole, and start individualizing people as well as appreciating their skills. I couldn't agree more. My sister is considered a Millennial and she breaks every negative label of that generation that I have ever read. I work with some Millennials, and they too break those negative labels and are oftentimes offended by them. They are selfless, brilliant, organized self-starters who are well-mannered, assertive and humble.

In addition to "breaking generations," Morgan outlines six forces identified by Dan Keldsen, author of the book Gen Z Effect: The Six Forces Shaping the Future of Business, from this generation that will impact the future of business: hyperconnecting (leveling of the learning playing field); shifting from affluence to influence (information will now be power - I can't wait!); life hacking (think crowdfunding); slingshotting (fast pace of new technology adoption); and the global classroom (open source classes).

Perhaps it's time to get my nephew that superhero cape after all - he certainly began adopting these forces already. He is learning German, Italian and Icelandic at the same time he learns English. He watches cartoons in German on his personal iPad (screen time limited to 30-minutes in the morning and 15-minutes after dinner!) and uses variable laser cards to learn about constellations every night as he goes to sleep. I'm sure in the next year his father will have taught him how to code so they can build their own renewable science projects.

In the future, I predict we will stop defining job descriptions as well as listing necessary practical and concrete skills, and rather will describe our challenges and invite candidates to provide solutions. If Generation Z is accustomed to sharing economy, building workarounds, and educating themselves, they will accept the jobs with the confidence that they can meet the challenge and provide innovative solutions. After all, sourcing professionals are really good at understanding the challenges of their lines of business, building adaptive scopes for work, qualifying providers, managing their performance and keeping their companies competitive. So, they should be very prepared for Generation Z. Probably better prepared than most industries.       

To read more on this topic, I suggest the following articles:

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, SIG

Mary Zampino, Senior Director of Global Sourcing Intelligence, has over 20 years of experience in information technology and over 15 years of experience in sourcing. Prior to joining SIG, Mary worked at Enporion, where she was responsible for the analysis, configuration, execution and award evaluation for over one thousand sourcing events, across a diverse range of direct and indirect categories. Mary is committed to customer service and considers information sharing and usability the top priorities for any project or organization. Mary holds a Bachelor's Degree in Information Science from the Florida State University and has completed certifications in Health Information Technology and Requirements Gathering.