Monday, 8 September 2014

First day at school? How did that happen?

My eldest daughter started school today. 
Ridiculous, I know.  She’s still just a baby etc.
All things being equal, she will be receiving her ‘A’-level results on Thursday 16 August 2029.
What will change in the world of work between those two dates?
What sort of student will she be?  What sort of employee?  What sort of customer?
To compare, let’s go back a few (ahem) years, to my childhood.
I have always been a James Bond fan.  I read the books as a child, collected the toy cars and watched the films.
Back in the 1980s, there were 3 terrestrial TV channels in the UK, then 4.  You only had a week’s notice of the TV schedules and then only if you bought the ‘Radio Times’ for BBC 1 and 2, or the ‘TV Times’ for ITV and Channel 4.
Bond movies were always shown on ITV, usually twice a year and in a random order.  This didn’t matter regarding the plots but made little sense in terms of the actors playing Bond – one Easter I might catch the first 20 minutes of a Roger Moore movie and 5 months later I’d see the opening sequence to a Sean Connery one.  And so on.
So it was a big deal for me to be able to buy DVDs and watch what I wanted, when I wanted.  At work, I have been increasingly impressed by the ways in which we can summon up the people, documents, information and knowledge that we want, when we want them.  I have got used to this way of working but will always retain a frisson of amazement and glee at being able to do so.
Back to my daughter.
She likes the Ice Age animation films.  We have cable TV and can pay for movies, to watch what we want, when we want.  So, before I bought the DVD box-set, my daughter would think nothing of asking to watch ‘Ice Age 1’, or ‘Ice Age 3’ or perhaps the ‘Christmas Special’.  Moreover, being an indulgent Father who refuses his daughters’ requests less often that he should, she has already become used to getting what she wants, when she wants.
Now, let’s fast-forward again to 2029 and beyond and imagine she is considering employment or university.
What sort of student will she be?  What sort of employee?  What sort of customer?
As a student, will she settle for anything other than an educational environment when she can summon up textbooks, quotes, insights and feedback instantaneously?
As an employee, will she tolerate anything other than instant connection with the people whose knowledge and inputs she needs to help her with her work?
As a customer, will she buy from any company that doesn’t give her what she wants, when she wants it?
No chance. 
My indulgences have hard-wired into her from the earliest age an expectation that she can find information, knowledge, people and products with almost no effort at all.  Companies are going to have to up their game to get her commitment as an employee and win her business as a customer.
And it’s all my fault.  Sorry about that.
For a conversation about sharing knowledge and using it to win business from high-maintenance little madams like my 4yr-old, or just to hear how well she is doing at school, please contact me direct or via the Knoco web-site.

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