Bridging the IT generation gap

Older generations learned tech; the younger generation lives it. Organizations that want to succeed need the skills of both

IT pros who grew up in the Baby Boom are dinosaurs who just don't get it. Generation Y is full of Facebook-happy slackers with an exaggerated sense of entitlement. But beyond these broad generalizations lie some real differences between the generations of geeks who do tech for a living, from Boomers to Generations X, Y, and the Millennials.

"Today's generation was born into a world where technology is about interaction, whether it's playing video games or using social media," says Larry Johnson, age 62, co-author with daughter Meagan (age 40) of " Generations, Inc.: From Boomers to Linksters -- Managing the Friction Between Generations at Work" (Amacom, 2010). "They spent hours at it, the way I spent hours watching 'Rin Tin Tin.' So their brains are structured to interact with technology in an entirely different way."

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That, in turn, affects everything from how and where each group works to what motivates them to the way they approach and implement new technologies. Whether you cut your teeth on Cobol or were raised on a steady diet of open source software, there's plenty you can learn about the folks on the other side of the age divide.

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