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Generation WE

November 19, 2008
by Drex DeFord
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Hope you’ve had a great week. The weather looks awesome for the weekend here in Seattle. No matter where you’re at, get out there if you can and have some fun!

Once in a while I stumble across a book that, as I read it, makes me shake my head north-south and say, “yea…that makes sense to me now.”

The most recent was a free on-line book called Generation-WE ( by a guy named Eric Greenberg. In it, he talks about citizens born between 1978 and 2000. There’s 93 million of them. They out-number baby-boomers (only 74 million of us). And based on Eric’s extensive survey and conversations/observation, he comes to some pretty interesting conclusions:

They are willing to follow, but will lead when necessary. They volunteer quite a bit, and they’re very community-service oriented. They’re focused on environmental issues. Technology is natural for them. They often have broad groups of friends, many of them that they only know through social networking websites. They want to save the world. They have an overwhelming belief that healthcare is broken.

…and they’re always plugged in. They text message, instant message, facebook, myspace, and twitter. And they’re significantly responsible for the results of the most recent election (even those who couldn’t yet vote). They expect it (“everything”) to be available online…as consumers, and as members of a work team. A pretty remarkable group, really. My daughter is one of them…and Eric’s findings are very consistent with what I see in her everyday.

They are today’s healthcare consumers. They are tomorrow’s healthcare consumers. They are some of Children’s (and your organization’s) employees today, and there will be more of them on our (your) staff next week/month/year.

Think about that as you work with your leadership and teammates to plan and implement new systems, processes, and capabilities.

It’s a fun time to be in healthcare…


Comments it! And with the generation in question, there's so many more cool things you can bribe them with. :)

Let's call it rewards, shall we, since bribery is an art! :) Often too I do have to bribe my child for that extra chores or better yet just say "I will take you to the toy store or Movies"

Thanks and welcome Drex, I have added "Generation-WE" to my reading collection.


Thanks for a great post. I downloaded Generation We, based on your recommendation. Although I haven't finished it, I agree with your assessment. It's beautifully put together, has several very authoritative sections, and is important to the readership here.

I would encourage those interested to watch this video, a CNN 4 minute interview with the author.

During my commute, I'm listening to Tom Friedman's new book, "Hot, Flat and Crowded."  In it, Friedman describes some of the behaviors that the Generation We'ers are responding to as "dumb-as-we-want-to-be."  Your post juxtapose's that with the book's topic heading on page 8, "Denial is no longer an option."  To your point, it is a fun time to be in healthcare, given these new appetites, and focus on healthcare.

If there are any Tom Friedman fans reading this, you might get a special kick out of this recent parody.

Drex, welcome and thanks for a provocative post.

Funny story. Last night, I went to a lecture by noted author Edward Hallowell. The topic? How to raise your kids... Answer: Five easy steps, starting with "Connection." He made that point that, as long as they're throwing challenges at you, you're okay.

Here's the funny part. The program was part of a larger program of Parent Encouragement seminars, one of which titled "How to develop your kids without bribery." Hallowell remarked with a smile, "I really don't know how to do that." The audience agreed.

To all of you out there who aren't parents or aren't parents yet, bribery is a core staple of connecting with your child.

Very interesting posting, Drex.
I agree completely about "Generation We." If it weren't for my 20-year-old brother, I wouldn't know the joys of ringtones and Facebook, and my iPod would be empty.

I think it's very wise to pay close attention to this emerging generation.

Thanks for the nice comments (and the additional references...good stuff). I promise I'll update you from time to time on the "challenges" all my kids throw at me! d