Generation Y

Here are a few thoughts generated by encounters I had with Gen-Y members of the workforce.

By and large, upon learning about their careers, it seems that only unemployment beats the professional life of your typical Gen-Y person--workplace dynamics being so different from a life centered on education, so neatly divided, and timely shuttled between activities.

I follow up with the question: Since your company seems interested neither in your aspirations nor in optimizing your professional potential, what do you plan to do about it? To go back to grad/B-school, learn [about] business and then do something on my own, comes the answer. I figured then that s/he didn't know what exact knowledge s/he was supposed to pick up from the school, and school was a mere detour to answering the question of what you want to do in life. Then s/he goes on to the second line of defense: I have an idea about what I want to do but I don't have a business plan; I need to do a business plan and don't know how to do it. My next question is: Why do you need a business plan? Hm, you may be right, I don't think I need one either, but that's what everybody seems to say.

To the extent the above situation is not unique, please consider the following:

The main idea behind most B-schools is to keep their staff employed while imparting some information about how businesses run. With few exceptions, people don't get that much better jobs after the B-school than what they had before. In other words, there is an inflation of degrees out there while meaningful work-experience is scarce commodity. "Meaningful" as in taking initiatives, having increased responsibility, or contributing directly to the bottom line. Plus, one would do well to also consider the cost of opportunity against whatever better job prospects a business degree brings.

Secondly, the thinking has been that any idea, in its way from concept to profit, needs a business plan/model--a blueprint for a process to make money--in order to succeed. That may be the case in some instances--let us say, when you have a very well defined idea, have some professional reputation, and go to raise money--but brings little to those entrepreneurs who have already been able to match a need with a product/service offering. Those entrepreneurs would be better off by thinking of ways to bootstrap their business, ideally until profitable, and only then think of scale and business plan. On an historical note, have a look at the Intel's business plan here.

In other words, try to make the most out of your day-job, identify and co-opt the least amount of resources to take you from concept to anything people may want to consume/access, and only then worry about business plans/models and such. I have a strong feeling that the founders of Yahoo, Google, Skype and any other number of great business did just this. As a matter of fact, Skype, being so successful at what it's been doing, passed along the problem of finding a business model/plan to E-Bay.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you hit the mail in its head mr. fch because patience is a hard learnt lesson and no generation could get there through a shortcut. very enjoyable reading your stuff.