Spice caught up with international futurist (and optimist) Anni Macbeth, or Annimac, about the immense power of the world’s most connected generation, Gen Z.
Annimac is a futurist and trend forecaster, formerly a teacher, psychologist and communicator, who has spent her whole life describing the future with astonishing accuracy. What she has to say about the upcoming generation is heartening to hear – she believes that this morally sound group will make the changes necessary to create a fairer, safer and more sustainable world.
Annimac, who is speaking at the upcoming Associations Clubs WA Conference in May, will deliver a keynote on the importance of Gens Z and Y and how not-for-profit (NFP) organisations need to engage with them in order to harness their influence.
The status quo
The current state of NFPs is that they are typically hierarchical organisations with Baby Boomers – who are increasingly reluctant to retire – at the head, Gen Xs aged between 40 – 55 years champing at the bit to get into more senior roles that need to be vacated by Baby Boomers, Gen Y’s organising and leading change from the lower ranks and Gen Zs taking the lead and to make big improvements and changes that suit their hyper-connected world.
There is Physical Reality, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. Baby Boomers live primarily in the real, physical world and subsequently enjoy face-to-face meetings and printed documents. Gen X, to some extent, span both online and physical worlds but generally without the effortless finesse that Gen Ys possess being the first generation born into the internet-enabled world. Gen Zs are highly skilled in the online and augmented worlds and increasingly frustrated in the physical world, especially when it wastes time and resources. Why have a face-to-face meeting when you can Skype? Why print a brochure when you can update a website or send an email?
The upside of Gen Z
Gen Z is incredibly morally conscious. They are the most ethically sound generation to emerge, post WWII. They take a global view and have an immense sense of global social and moral justice. They are efficient when it comes to resources and, above all, insist they spend their time doing something useful.
Gen Zs are the people who have the ability to completely revolutionise the way things are done because they have raised themselves in the limitless virtual world and reject the limited experience of the old, pre-internet way of doing business. Gen Zs have a finely honed bullsh*t detector and can smell scams, spin and greed a nanosecond away. They will ruthlessly delete people from their feed if they don’t respect the integrity of the person speaking (even if it’s the CEO).
Gen Zs are the people who will wholeheartedly crowd fund a worthwhile cause, circumventing the usual grant application and loan processes, making them a force to be reckoned with in the start-up world. The old fashioned concepts of charity are not necessary with this group – the market will rapidly decide if it’s a worthwhile cause.
Working with Gen Z
Respect their concept of time by not requiring face to face meetings and give them something useful to do that has a moral foundation. Let them advise on and lead digital projects that encompass marketing and social media, especially when it’s directed at Gen Zs and Ys. Listen to them and ensure they have plenty of ways to communicate online. If they can do the job, let them, or they will leave and do it better elsewhere or start their own business to meet the market need.