We live in a complex world, the days of black and white decision-making are over. And while there is little doubt as to whether or not that complexity exists, the real question is how do we deal with it. The answer to that question, as we will explore in this post, will depend on who you ask, Gen Ys or CEOs.

Back in 2010, IBM conducted a survey ‘Inheriting a Complex World: Future Leaders Envision Sharing the Planet.’ It was a global study that compared the insights from IBM’s annual CEO survey with its first ever survey of Students, over 3,600 Gen Y respondents from over 40 countries. What the study showed was that there exists significant discrepancy between Gen Y’s views and values on the world of business, and those of CEOs.

A large part of the study was dedicated to trying to understand how the different Generations will use data to aid in decision making, but a significant amount of research was also done to analyze the values and viewpoints of each group. Many intriguing insights that were shared in the three-year-old survey illustrate how there is a large Generational Gap between Gen Y and the Boomer/GenX-led CEO cohort:

  • in a question that asked what they thought would be the top three factors that impacted organizations:

Gen Y placed a much higher weight on ‘Globalization’ and ‘Environmental Factors’ than the CEOs

  • in a question that asked what they thought would be the top three leadership qualities:

While both placed creativity at the top of the list, Gen Ys placed much greater importance on ‘Global Thinking’ and ‘Sustainability.’

Fundamentally, the biggest difference between the two groups is that Gen Ys are born with a natural understanding that the world is interconnected:

Thus they recognize that the decisions made by a company cannot be calculated in a vacuum and measured only against shareholder wealth creation. The externalities (social, environmental and cultural) must also be taken into account and calculated.

What makes this report so interesting is that the qualities described by those in Gen Y are much more conducive to the #NewEraBiz. At the top end, this means creating global companies that generate profits for all stakeholders, act in the best interests of society, and focus on creating genuine relationships with customers rather than viewing them exclusively as profit centres.

To reach this level will require a new methodology of leadership, one that fosters creativity, harnesses collaboration and empowers employees.

The kicker in this situation is that both groups do not have equal opportunity. The CEOs are the ones with the power, who make the decisions and control the companies that drive our respective economies. Very little has actually changed in the world of business over the last three years at the top level, despite the new ethos that Gen Y brings to the table.

Furthermore, it’s been a pretty great last few years for Banks and Fortune 500 Companies. Profits are up, market share is increasing, and governments have given them access to ‘free’ money.

Gen Y’s, on the other hand, have seen their fortunes heading in the opposite direction. Youth Unemployment is skyrocketing past historic levels in countries all over the world, while many youth who are employed work for organizations that run counter to their beliefs. This generation has even been labeled by some as the ‘Lost Generation’ to reflect the loss of hope and disparity being seen by young graduates.

The real problem is that many Gen Ys are beginning to come to the realization that they will be the ones who are forced to resolve and clean up these problems being created by reckless businesses. One on side, this can be viewed as a great opportunity, but on the other side it is infuriating to witness the destruction from the sidelines.

Thus as Gen Y gets ready to ‘Inherit a Complex World,’ the question becomes when will ‘Future Leaders’ get the opportunity to put their talents to the test?

At a moment in history when many businesses are beginning to face an existential crisis, and reaching the crossroads where they realize their path is no longer sustainable, it’s time to focus on interconnectivity and sustainability as the drivers of future commerce. For the young Generation, who are born with an inherent understanding of these concepts, the golden opportunity to step up and grab the reins has arrived.

And while an awareness and inherent understanding of these concepts may not generate results in the next quarter, they can be used to drive long-term strategies that will enable businesses to survive the transition and thrive in a complex world. It’s part of the move to the #NewEraBiz and will open up a new array of paths for global business in our interconnected world.

How do you think we can bridge the Generational Gap between Gen Ys and CEOS?

+ BMBreakdown: ETSY
+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

In times of crisis, the answer is entrepreneurship. As youth unemployment and underemployment rates continue to rise to historic levels in countries across the planet, the time has come for the young generation to take destiny into its own hands and start building its own businesses. With the advent of social media, video chat technology, and most recently crowdfunding, the environment for youth entrepreneurship has never been more favorable.

Last weekend, One Young World (OYW), a global summit for future youth leaders, congregated in Pittsburgh, USA. One of the major plenary sessions at the summit, Global Business (embedded below), was focused on brainstorming solutions to youth unemployment. Five young delegates started by delivering speeches, sharing their unique perspective on the issue, which was followed up by a Q & A from other young delegates in the audience, and then wrapped up with the counselors sharing their opinions.

The first speaker, the founder of a non-profit organization called Information Door in the UK, wasted no time in putting the issue in context:

“youth unemployment is the biggest systemic threat to our generation”

Several other strong points were made during the course of the session, but ultimately it was Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups in the UK, who summed up the solution in one sentence:

“the end of youth unemployment will come at the beginning youth self-employment”

In other words, its not going to be big business or the government who ultimately solve this problem, nor will it be a few members of the older generation coming out of semi-retirement to start companies – it will be our own generation, creating the businesses of the future, today.

Richard cited a study conducted in the US a few years ago that showed 100% of sustainable jobs created in the country were developed by new firms, or startups, not from big business. It’s not magic, or miracles, that will help us reverse this trend, its entrepreneurship; it always has been and it always will be. During the Great Depression, people who lost their jobs were left with no choice but to become entrepreneurs and create their own work, and it led to one of the greatest periods of innovation in human history.

We know the problem, we know the solution, the question is how?

#1 The first step is to find a problem to solve. Let’s focus on real problems here, not cosmetic iPhone-app problems;

#2 The second step is to have some knowledge about the market surrounding the problem and the ability to access the communities it affects. The deeper the knowledge of the market, the simpler it is to see the solutions;

#3 The third step is to have a solution. It has to be an innovative solution and something that can be communicated simply to people regardless of their level of sophistication in the market.

Then it’s all action. There’s no need to wait for someone to give you permission to launch a company, with the tools we have available you can move towards the market immediately and start experimenting.

During the Opening Ceremonies of the OYW Conference, Muhammad Yunus (speech starts at 2:09:30), the father of microfinance and a great inspiration for entrepreneurs around the world, made two timely statements:

  • “Older you are, wiser you are. No longer true. Younger you are, the wiser you are”
  • “Don’t worry about the money it will come with the right idea. Creativity, technology, and ideas are the power”

Bold, but true. What these two statements go to show is that it’s not necessary to wait to have years of experience, nor to have an investor validate your idea, before you start experimenting.

We advocate doing some planning, which is why we created the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business. By going through the strategy kit, business model canvas and/or financial model, anyone, regardless of experience, can be in a position where they can effectively evaluate the merits of an idea. Bad ideas can be discarded, and good ideas can be collaborated around.

+ Building Blocks for a New-Era Business

Then there comes the issue of funding.

At the end of the Global Business plenary session, counselor Michael Hastings from KPMG made the recommendation that youth should each contribute small amounts of money to each other’s ideas. This is the whole concept behind crowdfunding. By having a lot of people each contribute a small amount of money to fund a project, new ideas and concepts can get off the ground.

The first step in the crowdfunding process is to build a community around the idea. If an idea has traction in a community and there is evidence that the solution can momentum amongst those it is meant to serve, then crowdfunding is a great way to get the idea off the ground and raise the initial chunk of capital. Community is the key building block in a successful crowdfunding campaign.

+ Strategies for a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Of course crowdfunding is not perfect for all types of ideas, but for basic products and services, social businesses and creative projects, crowdfunding is ideal. The whole driver of crowdfunding is social capital, which is why ideas that take root within a certain community can become self-sustainable with a well-executed crowdfunding campaign, both because of the money raised and the new connections made.

+ Crowdfunding and the Principle of Social Capital

In some cases, it may be a good idea to use crowdfunding platforms to simply test demand for a new product or service in the market. Crowdfunding platforms can be thought of in certain circumstances as reverse markets, allowing entrepreneurs to determine demand based on live feedback rather than spreadsheet forecasts. In this context, certain new ideas can be experimented with simply by running a crowdfunding campaign to test demand:

+ Building Blocks – TEST – demand via crowdfunding

No matter what type of idea you have, every entrepreneur needs a method to finance their idea and crowdfunding provides an excellent mechanism for social-media savvy Gen Ys to make this happen. While not everyone is going to have the skills and confidence to go out and start experimenting with their own ideas right away, crowdfunding platforms function as central hubs for participation and collaboration, allowing people to get involved in projects they care most about no matter what their skill level. Over time, individuals can learn from others’ experiments and progressively gain the prerequisites to try their own.

Once an idea has been crowdfunded, the company can expand and develop in accordance with the natural growth rates of the market. Building from the bottom up is after all the most powerful way to build a business in today’s connected world. If investors are needed, then the leverage will be much higher than if you were to just try and get an idea funded in concept stage.

+ Strategy Sessions: Crowdinvesting + Entrepreneurs

In fact, in certain countries, entrepreneurs can use crowdinvestment platforms to raise equity capital for their company. Crowdinvestment allows ‘micro-investors’ to take real equity stakes in new companies, rather than simply receiving rewards for donations as in the donation-based crowdfunding model. Right now, entrepreneurs can raise up to £150,000 in the UK via crowdinvestment (www.seedrs.com), and many more countries will be legalizing crowdinvestment next year (ex. USA, Italy, etc.)

+ London + Crowd Finance – the emergence of a new financial ecosystem

Overall, the time has come for the young generation to start paving its own path and developing the ideas that the world needs – today. Patience is a virtue, but only to a point, and our world demands solutions from young leaders – now. Experience and the backing of investors is no longer needed to get an idea off the ground, new businesses can be built with a little creativity, a robust community and network of collaborators. It’s time for Generation Collaboration to take control …

+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

Wake up, wake up : One Young World (OYW) is here. The young guns arrive on the global stage and congregate under one roof to brainstorm solutions to the world’s biggest problems – the annual event commences today in Pittsburgh, PA for the third time in its history.

‘Junior Davos’ : what is OYW ?

It is a one-of-a-kind global forum where Gen Ys gather from countries all over the world to collaborate with high-level political, environmental and business leaders on prominent global issues. The event has been branded a ‘Junior Davos,’ as a group of up-and-comers discuss key issues and develop new ideas related to topics like global health, education, business and leadership. The event runs over an action-packed four days, and the US was selected at the host country this year because of the impending US election.

According to Founder David Jones the whole idea is to give brilliant minds a platform to drive and create positive change.

in the face of global disarray : OYW’s beginnings

Kate Robertson and David Jones, two executives from marketing powerhouse Havas Media, realized that action needed to be taken in the face of such a deep global crisis. Decades of experience, a worldwide brand and a network of key global decision makers wasn’t enough though, what they needed was the energy and idealism that only youth can provide. Thus they came up with the idea to launch a global event for young leaders and bring together a group with the level of diversity that rivals the Olympics; they registered OYW as a charity in 2009 and threw the inaugural event in London in 2010, followed up by last years event in Zurich (pictured below).

the faces of the future? : who attends

The official criteria for applications is youth with leadership potential between 18 and 30. Applications are submitted to OYW several months before the event and potential candidates are then told whether they are eligible for sponsorship.

Essentially, if you want to go to the event you need to be (or at least believe that you are) a young gun with the potential to shake things up. Then you need to find a sponsor, or group of sponsors, to back you and foot the $5,200 bill (same for all participants regardless of geography) to make the trip. The majority of participants from the developed world are sponsored by large corporations.

+ OYW – Could you be a Delegate?

Looking at this years field of attendees (1,500 attendees projected), it seems that most countries are quite well represented.

‘you’re the pilots now guys’ : event format

High-level counsellors and global leaders are brought in to lead the plenary sessions and deliver speeches. Counsellors and speaders at this year’s event include Bill Clinton, Jamie Oliver, Muhammed Yunus, Arianna Huffington, and many more prominent names. The diversity and depth of expertise at the event is impressive.

+ OYW – 2012 Counsellor List=

Last year, Bob Geldof gave a rousing speech (clip above) that blasted global leaders and told youth at the summit, “you’re the pilots now guys.” Mr. Geldof and other leaders of the plenary sessions will focus on the following major topics:

  • Health
    Focus: Why do we allow the physically disabled to be socially disabled?
  • Education
    Focus: Why can’t every child read?
  • Global Business
    Focus: What is the new CSR?
  • Human Rights
    Focus: Who is responsible for upholding human rights?
  • Leadership and Governance
    Focus: Why will this generation will do a better job?
  • Sustainable Development
    Focus: What is the new green?
  • Transparency and Integrity
    Focus: Why is corruption so hard to fight?

Counsellors and industry leaders provide insights and perspectives about the specific topics, OYW delegates are then given an opportunity to ask specific questions about the topic in a public forum. Following these sessions, ambassadors come up with calls to action and delegates sign a pledge to show their commitment.

More information about the impact from previous years’ initiatives can be found at the link below:

+ http://www.oneyoungworld.com/impacts

Our two cents : props and critiques of OYW

Props to Kate and David for organizing the event ; judging by the energy in room and the looks on peoples’ faces, it’s a memorable moment for many. One 2011 attendee who we talked to called it a truly inspiring experience.

It does have a certain marketing polish to it that breeds skepticism, at least in us. Putting high-profile market players, some with companies who have questionable histories on ethical issues, on the podium to inspire idealistic up-and-comers is fine to a point, as long as the promotion is tapered with the backstory on the company or individual. For example, last year a Shell executive lead a session on the future of energy – is sending a representative from Shell really the best way to open a conversation about renewable energy and a non-fossil-fuel based economy?

We’ll let you answer that question for yourself.

What we love, is the way the whole event is put together and broadcast. The coverage is amazing, allowing people from all over the world to participate in these important discussions. Twitter is buzzing (look for trending topics) and the conversation goes global as soon as the debates begin – it really does feel like open, borderless collaboration. And beyond the feeling is the look ; they make it look really sexy to save the world : it is sexy to save the world : )

If you want to follow the action, the event will be streamed live (check the website for details) or use the hashtag #OYW to participate in the conversation on Twitter.

+ oneyoungworld.com

+ OYW 2012 – Event Agenda

beyond the event : takeaways

It is a very interesting model to explore for future collaboration ; adults bring the wisdom and experience, youth come in with the energy and ideas. Put them in the same room and what happens? We wouldn’t know unless we tried, but the idea to inspire us Gen Ys with stories and perspectives from the older generation is worthy enough to experiment with as long as it is framed in the right context (ie. equal footing). One Young World has done a brilliant job executing the event and testing this model.

But : we don’t need to wave flags around and fork out big cash to facilitate this type of collaboration. It can happen here and now – we have the technology, enough pressing global issues and the energy – so let’s open up our own debates and collaborate. The beauty of the event is that it should inspire everyone to take action, regardless of age, race, gender or creed. So let’s get started!

Let us know what you think about OYW

+ BMBreakdown: ETSY
+ Time For BMi

PLAN – the Business Model

The up and comers are at the gate – Gen Y is getting set to blow the doors open. While generations of the past have been a moderate evolution of their predecessors in the workplace, this generation is different. Young, committed and connected, Gen Y is getting set to transform the world as we know it and reinvent the way business is done. With that in mind, we wanted to show you a glimpse of a future driven by Generation Collaboration.

For the last several years, much has been made, written and discussed when it comes to Gen Y. Several themes have emerged, stereotypes have been formed and studies conducted. Through it all, the ‘experts’ have sought to form a consensus about what drives us, how to manage us and why we do what we do. Many theories have operated under the assumption that we will adapt to the traditional ways of doing things and fall into line with generations before us. Unfortunately, this assumption is way off.

This generation – collectively referred to as Gen Y, Gen Me, etc.- is driven by a need to congregate, collaborate and create. Are these needs being met in the current economy? No! For this reason, Gen Y is preparing to step into the driver’s seat and start a new era of business like the world has never seen.

While it has been disappointing to see a lot of what has been written in the media in relation to Gen Y, there have been a few standout studies in the recent past. A couple of weeks ago, we stumbled across a new video by a Brazilian research agency called ‘All Work, All Play’ (embedded below). The video attempts to take a stab at what makes Gen Y tick and parallels how our generation works in comparison to Gen X and the Baby Boomers.

All work and all play from Box1824 on Vimeo.

While we think that the video falls into a few clichés, we were also impressed that they hit on a bunch of key points. Here’s where the video really nails it:

  • All Work, All Play – the title perfectly captures what the majority of us endeavor to achieve. If we are doing what we love, is it work or play?

The lines continue to become blurred, as the workaholic (Baby Boomers) / work-hard-play-hard (Gen X) ways give way to the new way of working. And work-life balance … come on.

  • The Creative Economy – ‘the creative economy … is painting a brilliant and never before seen scenario.’

Many of us are upset (to put it mildly) with the working world we are coming into, which means one thing – we are going to reinvent everything. Entrepreneurship and social movements led by Gen Y will unleash a wave of creativity like you have never seen.

  • Pure Collaboration – we thrive when we take on new tasks in new environments with new people.

But it has to be on equal footing, meaning it won’t work when older people try to impose their expertise and ego onto the project – for us, it’s all about what you bring to the table today. Given that we are tech savvy and inherently flexible, it means we can work on anything, anywhere, anytime with anyone.

Given these trends, what does that mean in today’s working world?

A new organizational model is emerging:

The new organizational model empowers the Gen Y worker to do what he/she loves where they want to do it. The new-era organization is mobile, it’s geographically dispersed and the decision-making power is decentralized.

The best example of this type of company is the youth-driven Brazilian crowdfunding company Catarse. Catarse was profiled in the report for My Crowdfunding Study (see post – My Crowdfunding Study), get in touch if you are interested in learning more about how this type of organization functions.

Collaboration is replacing competition

Rather than a cutthroat, I-win-you-lose way of business, we believe that everyone should win. We want to work collectively to make an impact in new markets and build communities around the companies we create. We are driven to unify, not divide, which means we are not going to partake in underhanded tactics to become a market leader.

As an example, look at the crowdfunding movement. Sure, certain companies will become the leaders in given regions, and there is some healthy competition, but everyone in the industry is working together to reinvent the funding landscape.

Gen Y is starting to drive the conversation

As business leaders and politicians continue to cling to power and try and drive in their specific agendas, Gen Y continues to get savvier and more assertive in their pushback. The channels of conversation in today’s world continue to move online, and nobody is more effective at getting a message out there than our generation.

There are countless examples, but specifically the recent social movement in Mexico #yosoy132 shows how swift Gen Y can mobilize around a specific cause. As another example, F! Cancer based out of Vancouver has built its brand by appealing to Gen Y.

So what does it all mean?


Get connected with this young generation – hire Gen Y’s, work with Gen Y-drive organizations, listen to their ideas. And if you are a Gen Y yourself, it’s time to start exploring your inner entrepreneurship guru.

People from Gen Y are hungry to get into the world of business and start making their mark. The hallmark of this generation is collective thinking, collaboration and creativity. While many organizations continue to look for people with ‘experience,’ no amount of experience can replace natural ability, and nobody is better equipped to succeed in the new global business landscape than Gen Y. Get ready to open up and hold on, as Generation Collaboration is coming to a town near you.

+ Building Blocks for the New-Era Business
+ Finance 2.0 – Wall Street Meets the Web

Crowdfunding Strategy – Summary

Trends and Research – Summary

Read about our collaborative Process

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