I read an article this week about the rise of Generation Z. I was very interested to see the contrasting characteristics presented between this rising generation and their Millennial predecessors.
Where Millennials are typically characterized as over-confident, demanding individuals with unrealistically high expectations, Generation Z is being touted as a realistic, cautiously confident, and work-for-what-you-have group. Of course, general stereotypes don’t always play out, but I think many are hopeful the stereotypes will ring true in the workforce.
Although we don’t know exactly what is coming with Generation Z, I do think some of their patterns can help us understand how they will handle creativity. After reading the article, I came up with three creativity characteristics I think you can expect from this next generation.
Generation Z is expected to grow up too fast. They have immediate access to more information than any generation before them. They are also a digital learning generation. They have been trained to find answers using the media at their fingertips. Ask them a question they don’t have an answer to, and they will shove an iPhone in your face with a perfectly reasonable explanation from YouTube. They may not have all the answers, but they know how to get the answers.
The access to immediate learning gives Generation Z an incredibly broad knowledge base. As I talked about in my post on Pressure and Creativity, a knowledge base around your topic is essential to creativity. Based on digital portals to endless amounts of information and a well-honed sense of curiosity, Generation Z will likely advance their ability to make logical connections between ideas.
One interesting observation as it relates to Generation Z is their reliance on technology and social media connections to build relationships. Where Millennials adapted to a social media driven world, Generation Z will be native to it. Children in this generation grow up FaceTiming grandparents and friends. Virtual connection is as natural to them as face-to-face would have been for Boomers. This is important because they have an innate ability to form virtual relationships.
One likely result of a generation so bent on building digital connection is virtual collaboration. With instant access to friends who run the gambit of expertise, Generation Z has the ability to collaborate faster and with more efficiency than previously experienced. If, as expected, they have a lowered sense of self-confidence, they are also more likely to reach out for help than their generational predecessors. From a innovation standpoint, we could be looking at one of the most creatively collaborative generations our world has known.
I love using paradox to describe common situations. I think this paradox is appropriate for describing how Generation Z will understand creativity and design. Previous generations lived in a world where well designed images just appeared in front of them. The rising generation is well versed with the technology used to create those same images. Most of Generation Z has been tapping and swiping design based technology since they were kids. And in a world where photo editor apps and Instagram are king, they have a new understanding of just how much effort goes into making something as simple as a posted picture.
A generation that knows how much effort it takes to create the perfect #nofilter image also knows how much effort it takes to turn a decent picture into something beautiful. They have experienced the complexity involved in creating something simple. This knowledge culminates in an increased work ethic. Generation Z will likely walk through the doors willing to work harder to create simplicity in their design and organizations than previous generations.
These are just three characteristics I have identified with respect to Generation Z and creativity. Are they definites? Of course not, but I think they are probable.
What about you? What do you think Generation Z will bring to the creativity table?