Why The Next Generation Must Build

Why The Next Generation Must Build

Why the next generation will be builders and not founders.

While reading through a Forbes write up by Theo Priestly, his article postures that this new generation of young people (a person born after December 2000) will have the backbone of technology and new things created, but will need to come alongside the disrupters of the previous generation and establish systems and creations that build upon the disruptions.

For context, here's a quick look at how the previous generation, Millennials, have been described.

Millennial: A person born between the years 1981 and 2000. Millennials are described by MTV Survey as The Founders. 20 year olds and people in their early 30s have an innate desire to be known and to discover:

  • 95% of Millennials want to raise their children in new ways. To them the old ways are out of date.
  • Millennials love to disrupt. The term "disruptive technology" was no doubt created by a Millennial.
  • They can be prone to narcissism. Some say it's a narcissistic thread that might have been introduced in the 90s when pop stars and fame took over the globe with full color music videos and MTV became the babysitter. "I can be famous and I'll try anything new to be so,” says the most self-consumed Millennial.
  • They are driven by the desire to be discoverers. And Millennials don't mind if their discoveries are sustainable or not. As long as their name contributed to it somehow.

Let's take this conversation to Africa.

Africa is and has been tribal in nature—from the Zulus to the Ethiopians. Tribal societies in the past create close bonds, they promote loyalty and a strong sense of family. For example, water was collected for everyone in the community amongst other things.

Tribal: A tribe is a group of distinct people, dependent on their land for their livelihood, who are largely self-sufficient, and not integrated into the national society. The tribal mindset by nature is "we all win." Everyone wins. And if a new discovery is made, the question is asked, how does it benefit the entire community?

The Newer Generation is a little different.

In the same article, Priestly points out that Founders are renown for failing. In fact, it’s the actual meaning of the word.

Time magazine quoted MTV's president saying “…while millennials have disrupted society, it’s this new generation’s job to rebuild it."

Could this generation be less concerned about fame, fortune and followers and more concerned about building something that benefits the entire community? Going back to a more tribal mentality?

  • Smaller intimate chat groups characterize these highly intuitive youngsters.
  • They'd rather have their Instagram accounts on private then on public.
  • The desire to be a part of something bigger seems to dwell deep in their hearts.
  • They ask the deeper questions like "is fame what I really want out of life?” And “aren't there incredible people who've started things that we can build upon?"
  • The article points out that we don't need as many failing founders (or more selfies for that matter).

We need builders.

While working with people in their late teens, I've found them to be long-term problem solvers. Their enthusiasm has a sustainability to it and their desire to contribute something of significance is remarkable.

There is a pendulum shift—it's inevitable. The swing from a founder mentality, a try everything method of disruptive technology, and a selfie post ideology might be on the downward motion.

Time will tell what this new generation brings to the table. But one thing is for sure, they won't be anything like the Millennials as side-by-side generations are most often quite different. What does this mean for Africa? Perhaps, we could see a generation that really wants to build without any desire for recognition, bribes or under the table self-benefits. Wishful thinking maybe.

But the fact is that more gets done when no one cares about who gets the credit. My hope is that we're going to see a lot more done.

As Alan Kay once said, "The only way you can predict the future is to build it."

(photo via unamid)