The New York Times had an amusing article today entitled, "When Whippersnappers and Geezers Collide," discussing what happens in the business world when "four generations — those who lived through World War II, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y — are together in the workplace." It notes, "the result is something like lost tribes encountering explorers for the first time": Gen Y workers wander around the office with iPod earphones stuck in their ears and while Baby Boomers grouse about the newcomers' laziness.
In the high tech world, these cultural incompatibilities play out in terms of preferred ways of reading, writing, and communicating content. IM-centric Gen Y workers view e-mail as archaic, while Baby Boomers feel it's up-to-date. Based on conversations with clients, enterprises are starting to run into the different generations talking past each other at work: a Gen Y-based IM thread discussing a current project that bypasses e-mail based workers, or younger workers getting their news from blogs and older workers getting their news from TV and magazines. In the content world, whippersnappers and geezers aren't colliding, they're talking past each other.
This is a form of dysfunctional reality that IT departments and business leaders need to acknowledge and conquer: otherwise, as the saying goes, the workers "aren't all on the same page."