Understanding GenerationRASCLogo Differences

This post is my summary of a presentation at the RASC Conference by Professor Peter Little, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Queensland University of Technology and RNA Councillor.

Let’s spread the learning between shows.


For any organisation to stand the test of time, new and younger people must be included to ensure succession into the future. Shows and other community organisations continually need to attract and retain new volunteers. For our multi-generations organisations to better work together, an understanding of the characteristics of each generations differs. Understanding the different attitudes and behaviours of ourselves and others can help a team to run more smoothly.

The generations at a glance...
Group Born Between(Age in 2015) Common Assumptions
Silent Generation 1920s – early 1940s(70s – 90s) Largely encouraged to conform with social norms.Don’t like to make a fuss.
Baby Boomers 1943 – 1960s(55 – 72) Strong on traditional leadership traits: ‘leading’, ‘decisive’, ‘motivating’, ‘persuasive’ and ‘strategic’. Open-minded and innovative.
Generation X 1960s – 1980(35 – 55) Socially progressive, seeking change, opportunistic, confident and culturally sensitive. Highly educated, active, ambitious, happy and family oriented, strong people skills, likely to be relational leaders: inspiring others rather than persuading or giving directions
Millennials   or Gen Y 1980s – 2000(15 – 35) Masters of abstract and conceptual thinking. Meticulous, highly ambitious, socially confident and relational. Lacking in ‘traditional’ leadership skills, although highly ambitious thought leaders, with a more relational yet ‘hands-off’ leadership approach than previous generations.
Generation Z 2000s – 2010(5 – 20) Entrepreneurial, low boredom threshold, impatient, multi-taskers
Generation A 2010 – now(Under 5) Center of attention from a young age, and aware of this. Expected to grow up with an expectation of self-importance.

Source: Hudson, 2014, The Great Generational Shift research and Wikipedia

Gen X volunteer rates are the highest of all generations, we just need to get them involved in shows.

Millennials are key stakeholders for show societies, employees, consumers and will be the future leaders. People aged approximately 20-50 (Gen X and Gen Y) have very different work expectations from the Baby Boomers (55-72 year olds).


Next Generation Volunteers

Because today’s young volunteers think differently to older generations, we will require new forms of leadership and programs to develop those leaders. Organisations need to construct their training programs to address these needs, by using methods such as coaching and mentoring.

Many young professionals have experience in a corporate environment that is face paced and time is billable and efficient management is expected. Electronic communication is essential and working remotely enables work to be completed without attending every face to face meeting. Show societies should keep this in mind when thinking about how they run their organisation, committee meetings and the expectations they place on members.

People can make very valuable contributions to your show, without attending every (or any) committee meeting.

Millennials have much to offer the world and organisations: ambition, optimism, capacity to modernise organisations.

Moving from a mass collaborative society to a knowing society – were we are all connected. The level of connectivity is rising exponentially.

“Why don’t we all just take a giant leap into the present - the trends are unstoppable”


–  Professor Peter Little

Next Generation Attendees at Shows

Shows are often market on tradition and heritage, although millennials usually only relate to tradition if it has been ingrained into them through their parents.

To survive, shows need to connect to the modern audience. That doesn’t necessarily mean to change the show completely, but preserve the core traditions, then find ways to link and present this in ways that are relevant to the current generation.

We can’t ignore the reality of consumer choice and people behaviour. You either respond to it over time, or you decline. You have to be prepared to invest in experimentation to find the things that work.

Next Steps for Your Show:

If you are seeking younger people to join your show committee, set aside some time to really think about what is relevant for them and why they might like to be involved. Appreciate and understand that people of different ages do think differently. Start the discussion with people both young and old on how we can work together wonderfully! Good Luck!


There is more content coming on this topic soon….


Thank you Professor Peter Little, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Queensland University of Technology and RNA Councillor, for your presentation at the RASC Conference.



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