Posts Tagged ‘youth’
Youth are our literal future.
I just came back from TED India in Mysore, and I saw examples of how Indian youth, using the array of mobile communications, Internet, social networking tools etc available, have been able to build businesses and also fulfill their social responsibilities. In their own way, they are pushing forward their vision of a new India.
How much does the leading edge of youth tell us about the future? In Singapore’s case, what does the leading edge of youth tell us what to expect of Singapore’s future? Futures Group just completed a study that I’ve posted in greater detail which you can download here.
How can Singapore tap on the leading edge of youth of Asia to help them fulfil both their career and social aspirations? What are their commonalities? I may not have articulated so explicitly before, but I believe that the city/nation that is able to tap on the creative energies of Asia’s leading youth stands in good stead to create a vibrant future.
The Economist has come up with a special on ageing populations. The IMF noted that the fiscal cost of the recent crisis is only 10% on average for ageing-related costs for developed nations. 10%! In previous posts, we’ve talked about the graying of the great powers (a summary posted below).
As Singapore sinks into the low fertility trap, our way out is by topping up via immigration. The other option of encouraging women to have more babies doesn’t seem to work in a Confucian culture where the woman does most of the housework, takes care of old parents and is also expected to have babies and a career to help pay for those babies. Japan couldn’t do it, neither could S Korea. China by central govt edict has accelerated this process. Only in the Nordic countries plus France has the low fertility trap been averted in part due to very generous cash transfers, flexible labor markets for working mothers to enter plus a state system of childcare support. Singapore cannot have its cake and eat it too. From observation, the thinking is that immigration is easier to control than cultural adaptation plus a shift in our social compact to a more Nordic system. But immigration is already throwing up a lot of integration (lack of integration) issues, and we’ve reached the self-imposed one-third foreign component of our population rule. There isn’t that much choice but to look at shifting the social compact. Thankfully Singapore’s built up some fat (reserves) that can help pay for this, not like China etc
Come end July, the Youth study should be completed. We have some senior civil servants saying it is important to meet our youth’s aspirations and match them with our industrial infrastructure. Well, I think it is well meaning but generally it’s easier to just have a diverse economy (depth and breadth) that youth can find a way to start, and to grow their wings in, and to come in and out on local/overseas stints. But that’s for another post end July.
Last year when we were doing the rounds of interviews for the project “Global Cities”, one of the interviewees startled me with something hiding in plain sight “Youth are your literal future. What distinguishes Singapore’s youth and the global youth they will be competing/collaborating/etc with? What is that X factor?”. There is a gap in understanding Singapore youth as human beings and not consumers in the market, at least as far as I’ve asked. So finally, I’ve started the Youth project last Friday to capture the profiles of Singapore youth.
I came across a similar snapshot of China youth in my feeds just now, h/t to China Youthology here.
Rich from All Roads Lead to China did a quick summary here, which I’m reproducing in part below:
Trend 1: From ‘Little Emperors’ to A ‘Bird Nest Generation’: Making Small Differences by Social Participation
For some, there will be a natural reaction that will immediately cause your eyes to role back into your head while uttering “yeah right, yet I encourage you to maintain focus. That whether through volunteering at the Beijing Games, donating to the Sichuan Earthquake, or harnessing the power of the internet, today’s youth are beginning to understand and experiment with a new role.
That of a socially responsible citizen.
It was a role that was traditionally heavily manage and influenced by others, namely the State, but with this change will come a need for firms to also make changes
1) CSR will be come under scrutiny – Corporations must become responsible citizens
2) Small and continuous actions in daily life (Stop talking, Prove it) – NO MORE GREENWASHING
3) Get it Louder through Communities – Localize community efforts
Trend 2: From ‘Globalization’ to ‘Post-Globalized Chinese’: Growing Confidence in Identity
Closely aligned with the Nationalistic movement in China, this section deals with the fact that there is a movement (a feeling) away from the belief that Western is better. That, for some of China’s youth, as Starbucks and McDonald’s expand their presence in Chia, they equate that to a lose of Chinese culture. A feeling I have had expressed, and can empathize with, on multiple occasions through conversations with friends.
It is a movement that probably peaked with Anti-CNN, but going forward it carries some real impacts (Carrefour can testify to that):
1) Local brands have started to gain ‘Cool Mind Share’ – Local artists, musicians, and writers are tapping the vein of discontent at a much higher rate than anything “western”
2) True Connection through Resonance of Collective Memories – Perhaps Hello Kitty is better positioned than Barbie?
3) Localization with Context Awareness
Trend 3: From ‘Cool’ to ‘Geeky’: Deep-ization of Hobbies and Empowerment of Communities
Whether through an internet chat room, QQ, or another medium, China’s youth are finding new ways to come together, share experiences, and identify with others in the electronic rhelm. It is a trend that we have seen in Japan and Korea before it, and as with China’s internet population being the largest in the world it should not come as a complete surprise that this trend exists:
1) Marketers need to understand 2 types of Geeks – Category Geeks and Cultural Geeks
2) ‘Great products’ Engross Category Geeks – Can you say iPhone?
3) Build Blood Connections by Engaging and Empowering Cultural Geeks
In short, this community in its broadest terms, is really no different than what you would find in other markets. Geeks are geeks regardless of geography, and considering most geeks are trading cyber real estate before physical real estate, geography may not be the proper terms anyway.
Trend 4: From ‘Fun-Seeking’ to ‘Creativity- Seeking’: Remarkonomy
In short. What they found was that there was no shortage of low hanging fruit or disposable eye candy in the market. what they found was that in trying to attract the mass market, and in playing to the lowest common denominator, brands were missing the market. That consumes were looking for an experience that was memorable, and replicable.
It is a trend that the researchers found 14 nuances (Everyday life trifles, Non-consumerism – organic, Kidult, Handmade, Inconvenience, Fragility, TEchy, Social conscience, Chinese Chic,Collective Memory, Hitting the Road, Sarcasm and Spoofing, Sensuality, and violence) for, but only 2 business implications:
1) ‘Designy’ everything – every element of the product (incl. packaing and display) are important to the sale.
2) Crowdsourcing to meet the long tail needs
Trend 5: From ‘Indulgence’ to ‘Sustainability’: Pains of Modernity and Risk Awareness
While the youth enjoy the ‘fruits’ of modern life, they’ve also started to feel the ‘pains of modernity’ at the same time: the polluted environment, the growing incidence of diseases in younger age, the severe issues of food safety, and now the economic crisis. They have realized and experienced the many risks in the society and in their life, and they aspire a life and world that is more sustainable.
Perhaps the trend that I am most active in, apart from #1, it has been amazing to see just how the issues of global warming’s primary inputs (population, water scarcity/ pollution, and air pollution) are beginning to really resonate with China’s population (not only its youth). It is true that progress is much needed, however one of the last key steps before large gains are made is that China’s citizens will grow educated and empowered to address China’s environmental and socetal issues.
It will occur online through outing pollution firms and offline through voluntary service, but more importantly for businesses it will mean:
1) Knowledge marketing – Consumers are getting smarter, and firms need to understand and respect that
2) Sustainable Products – Firms need to begin “greening” their products
In the end, this was one of the more interesting reports as it focused on some of the good that exists in China’s consumers. So often, the brands are playing to the “consumer” in every citizen, but where this report is different is that it fundamentally recognizes that China is not a land of conusmers on a credit card high. That firms need to make adjustments.
OK, so I’m a bit behind on the blog lately. The Institute of the Future released their 2008 Map of the Decade earlier in the year. I mentioned to the group last week that I wanted to start filling in the gap ‘People and Communities’ in what FG does. I had some ready starts in mind: youth (below), faith, slums .. and this latest map is surprising and welcome in highlighting more along the lines of communities: new commons, new diasporas, superhero organisations … that I feel hungry to take on.
As mentioned, I’m also on what could be another longish project on trying to put an economic cost of undercapitalised and disengaged youth in Singapore. There’s a surprising gap in the research in this field, so I’m starting an ethnographic research to fill in this blank. Let’s see where it brings us.
Moving on from Future of Global Demand to the next project, on youth. I’ve mentioned this before, youth are our literal future. What world will they create? What is the sort of world that allows a full blossoming of creativity? What can SGP do to tap on the full flowering of youth resident in Singapore, and youth of emerging Asia? Can that be an industry in its full right? Can that be a distinctive competitive advantage? I’m formulating the parameters of the project this week, and h/t to Brian Tiong for this slideshare on an overview of Millenials.
I attended the Youth Marketing Forum in Singapore a couple of months ago, and one of the items stuck in my mind was the separate path China’s Internet has taken to organize communities that in ways were ahead of the USA and rest of the world. Of course, scale is paramount. China’s leading video site Tudou already streams 15 billion minutes of video per month, compared with Youtube’s 3 billion minutes. But beyond scale, there is depth. I highly encourage browsing through some of the slideshares below to get a feel of how the Chinese Internet is the basis of a vibrant youth culture in the new China.
According to CIC, the series is being released for free in the following 4 parts:
- Topic One: The Chinese IWOM Landscape – An overview of the development, the architecture and the impact of Chinese IWOM.
- Topic Two: Alternative Ways to Measure Internet Community Dynamics – An introduction to some examples of community measurement indexes to display the dynamics of the Internet environment. This introduction will help brands and community owners systematically understand the impact and importance of community and IWOM from a third party perspective.
- Topic Three: The Diversity of Chinese Net Language – A look at the importance and uniqueness of Chinese net language and how it has become an integral part of netizens’ life online.
- Topic Four: Reshaping the Relationship between Brands and Consumers – Exploration of the power of the community and how the Internet Community is redefining the relationship between brands and consumers by leveling the playing field.
Paul Graham in his latest post titled “The High-Res Society” talks about the future where large institutions will progressively do worse as they fail to attract the best people. The best people want to work for hot startups. And this phenomenon he terms the spread of smallness, of small, automous groups highly networked, and whose performance is measured individually.
He notes that startups have not spread broadly because they are socially disruptive. And yes, observation is that startups are common in Silicon Valley and several other cities around in the USA, but they are an anomaly in the rest of the world. It is hard for startups to flourish where hierarchy and stability is prized. By that definition, it explains the dearth of startups in Singapore, in Korea, in Japan etc where stability is so highly prized. The PRC is different once again, but there is no flourishing of startups like Silicon Valley yet. The hand of the state is heavy.
Is it possible to engineer an environment where startups flourish in SGP? This question has been asked so many many times. What is the economic cost of NOT having startups in only-the-paranoid-survive stability-is-king Singapore? What is the economic cost of NOT having the young, the next generation, want to startup companies and instead become a salaryman?
If you know anyone who’s doing research, or likeminded, along these lines, much appreciate you let me know?
The greatest danger in times of turbulence is not so much turbulence itself, but acting with yesterday’s logic. I think that’s from Peter Drucker. Gladwell’s main message is the 10,000 hour rule, 10 years of 1,000 hours per year of practice in whatever craft, skill .. that tips over into excellence. On a larger scale, how can we design SGP society to reward not so much talent, but reward the process of becoming talent? How can we integrate a skills programme to be long term (not just 2 monthly courses) , for every resident (not just citizen).. and turn that into a national talent attractiveness advantage? Think about this … I want to move to Singapore because it gives me the opportunity and support infrastructure for long term training, the communities to hone my craft, the marketplace to realise it monetarily, the living environment and quality of life for youth, professionals and entrepreneurs? How do we create such an unbeatable edge?
Those of you following my facebook will know I have started a new project on youth. The focal question is in flux, as it will be in the first phase, for now it is “what is the economic cost of undercapitalised, under-engaged youth to Singapore?” …. Thanks for Rob Campbell of Sunshine for posing such an audacious question.
The Secret of Success in a Failing Economy
via Bill Taylor on HarvardBusiness.org by Bill Taylor on 12/5/08
It goes to show that timing isn’t everything. Here we are, amidst the greatest economic failure since the Great Depression, and two high-profile writers are out with big new books on the surprising secrets of what makes people successful. What’s more, both of these students of success are enamored of the same secret–a lesson drawn from research on super-successful violinists at Berlin’s Academy of Music.
One of the stars of Outliers, the bestseller from Malcolm Gladwell, staff writer for The New Yorker, is a psychologist named K. Anders Ericsson, who did an investigation of three different groups of violin students: the unquestioned stars, those who were good but not great, and those who had no hope of becoming professional musicians. What separated the stars from everyone else? It wasn’t raw talent, Ericsson concluded. (Every student had huge talent.) It was sheer persistence–those who practiced harder did better, and those who practiced insanely hard became wildly successful.
Gladwell dubs this phenomenon the “10,000-hour rule.” Becoming great at anything–sports, science, business–requires ten years of practice and 1,000 hours of practice per year. “Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness,” he argues.
Geoffrey Colvin, a high-profile editor at Fortune magazine, is equally smitten by Ericsson’s research. In his new book, Talent is Overrated, Colvin doesn’t just embrace the importance of ten years of practice. He explains just what sort of practice is required–a regimen that he calls “deliberate practice.”
What are the elements of deliberate practice? It’s designed explicitly to improve performance–the little adjustments that make a big difference. It’s repetitive, which means that when it’s time to perform for real (sinking a putt, pitching a product), you don’t feel the pressure. It’s informed by continuous feedback; practice only works if you can see how you’re improving. And it isn’t much fun, which isn’t all bad. “It means that most people won’t do it,” Colvin says.
So what does this thinking about success tell us about how to succeed in perilous times? For individuals, one message is that practice does make perfect. So if you’re a computer programmer who’s spending fewer hours writing code, or a product designer whose portfolio of projects is shrinking, or a customer-service specialist with fewer customers to serve, don’t let down time become wasted time. Turn it into practice time–find ways to work intensely and deliberately on your technical and business skills, confident that hard work will pay off in the long run.
The more jarring message comes for companies and their leaders. We’re still early into the downturn, but already big companies are reacting the way they always do. They are encouraging their highest-paid, most-experienced performers–that is, those with the most practice–to be the first to leave. Last year, in perhaps the most famous example of this brain-dead, knee-jerk policy , Circuit City, the giant electronics retailer, announced its so-called “wage management initiative.” The plan: fire its most talented and experienced employees in favor of younger workers making less money. Of course, customers who visited the stores looking for advice got much less of it, which meant they took their business elsewhere. The result? Last month, Circuit City filed for bankruptcy.
It would be funny were it not so common–and so wrong-headed. Indeed, New York Times media columnist David Carr recently looked at the Circuit City fiasco and asked an uncomfortable question: How is what the widely derided leadership of Circuit City did any different from what the leaders of our most respected media companies are doing?
The media business–print, national TV, local news–isn’t just downsizing. It is inviting its best-known, most-experienced (and thus, highest-priced) talent to be the first out the door. Legendary sportswriters, iconic anchormen and anchorwomen, influential columnists and pundits–all are heading for the exits with the blessing of management, replaced (if at all) by inexperienced newcomers who can’t hope to meet the standards of their predecessors.
How’s this for a secret of success? You don’t survive a downturn by encouraging your most experienced people to leave. Perhaps more business leaders can resist this wrong-headed practice–and hold on to those employees who have had the most practice in their careers.