December 29, 2017

What Did You Expect Us to Do?

A Play in Two Acts by CEO Jim Annis

Cast of Characters

Older generation: Traditionalists, Boomers and GenXers who get upset with younger generations for being addicted to their devices (versus being workaholics like themselves).

Younger Generation: Gen Y and Gen Z who have been told to not play outside alone or talk to strangers, who are watched by helicopter parents through a tracking device and are socially isolated from true relationships while ironically always connected via social media.

Act I – “The Dialogue Begins”

Scene I - The environment was created for them.

Time The present.

Setting – An office break room full of twenty employees, mostly front line mixed with managerial, at the lunch hour.



Just look at them. They are all staring at their phones and ignoring their lunches and each other. Didn’t we design this space for interaction and convenience for them to connect with each other? What does it say about our corporate culture? [Peering into the glass window of the break room, MEMBER A turns to his four male colleagues who helped him found the company 30 years ago. Shaking their heads in disbelief, they head to a restaurant for lunch to attempt succession planning, despite their concerns. Someone needs to take over when they are gone.]



Just look at them staring at us in this fish bowl all #judgy. What do they expect? They demand young people to be social and not use technology, yet as soon as they owned a smart phone they were the first to placate crying, misbehaving youth with a device to “soothe” their own nerves. [YOUNGER GENERATION EMPLOYEE A has typed this entire content into a text message to the person sitting right next to her.]



#Same. Don’t they know we had an Instagram account before we started high school? I do not remember a time before the internet. My brother just tagged me on a post that said a 2017 survey of more than 5,000 American teens found that three out of four owned an iPhone. His generation will be even MORE distracted as 2-year-olds are being handed iPads to entertain themselves. [After texting his response, he goes back to the crowdfunding site for a friend’s new green start up and pushes the “donate” button for $200.]


Act II – “More Understanding”

Scene I - The new environment they are helping to create.

Time Ten years from now.

Setting – The same office breakroom. YOUNGER GENERATION MEMBER A is sitting next to YOUNGER GENERATION MEMBER B having a “real” conversation about their management retreat. Cell phones are not within view.




You can choose tragedy or triumph,

How will the story end?

We urge patience and understanding,

One generation passes, the next ascends.


Delight in the Gen Y and Gen Z’s strengths,

They have been studied ad nauseam,

They know who they are and can change direction quicker than you,

Allow them to be the innovators of tomorrow.


They will be the life blood of your company if you let them,

A Caveat: beware addiction to distraction,

The Dopamine-producing effects of text and tech,

The slippery slope is steep.


Prioritize people over numbers,

Fight their loneliness and isolation with inclusion,

Teach them happiness and fulfillment,

Celebrate their commitment to make a difference in the world.


Show them real commitment,

Versus symbolic gestures without true results,

Let them fail and then…wait for it…wait for it…

Watch them naturally teach you how to learn from it.



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