Gen X + Gen Y = Problem solvers

The global world we live in today is fraught with problems. Technology has solved many problems, but it has introduced new ones to the mix as well. Will our younger generations be able to cope in this increasingly complex business world? How do they stack up as problem solvers and leaders?

The generations are generally defined as: Generation Y, also called Millennials, ages 18-32; Generation X, ages 33-48; and Baby Boomers, ages 49-67. A recent Ernst & Young survey (PDF) of U.S. respondents rated each of the generations for their skills, including problem solving and entrepreneurial.

Image credit: Ernst & Young

Image credit: Ernst & Young

As you can see, Gen Xers were rated as the best problem solvers as show above. It’s not surprising that Gen Xers are good at solving problems. When their parents, the Baby Boomers got divorced, the Xers were inserted as the family problem solvers and peace-makers. They had their Boomer parents as hard-working cost-effective role models, yet they grew up with multitasking, globalization, and technology, all of which play into coping with today’s problems.

The results are especially interesting when it comes to entrepreneurial skills. Gen Xers have often been dismissed as slackers, loafers, and no-goods. Caught between Baby Boomers and Gen Y, Gen X has been seen as lacking the leadership skills. However, their good qualities, especially those that focus on doing things differently have shone through, leading to innovation and building entire new businesses. This article by the BBC looks at how Gen Xers despite some challenges look for entrepreneurial opportunities, a characteristic supported by the Ernst & Young report.

Generation Y has also taken criticism because they don’t reflect the work ethics of previous generations. Growing up with video games, they have developed a high dependency on technology and a low attention span. Although the Ernst & Young survey shows them as the least adept at problem solving, their game-playing experiences are sure to lead them to become good problem solvers. In their book, Got Game, John C. Beck and Mitchell Wade explain in depth how the gaming generation is poised to reshape business.

How does gaming help being a problem solver? In video and digital game play you must win to get to the next level. You must be aware of your surroundings. You must develop a winning strategy. You must also be ready for constant change. Millennials grew up in a world of constant change much more than other generations. Their gaming skills will easily translate into facing challenges and finding solutions.

Both Generation X and Generation Y citizens are uniquely qualified to handle the many conundrums that our complex global technological world is sure to bring.

It’s expected that incoming generations may have different attributes having grown up with a different set of challenges than previous generations. However they are also poised through education and a familiarity with technology to develop programs and strategies that will help the world solve at least a few of its problems. Despite being doubted, Gen X and Y are still leading the innovation of disruptive technology and businesses. As for Baby Boomers who are about to retire? They don’t have to worry. We are all in good hands.

Featured image credit: Stockfresh

Sandy Berger
Sandy Burger, based in Pinehurst, N.C., is a veteran tech journalist and regular contributor to Tech Page One. As senior editor at, Sandy covers tech tips and tricks, apps and gadgets in general. Email her at [email protected]
Sandy Berger
Sandy Berger
Tags: Business,Business Intelligence