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Review: Coolsearch


Cool Search
Title: Coolsearch
Price: £16.99
ISBN: 1841124303
Author:Syrett, Michel, Lammiman, Jean
Publisher:John Wiley and Sons Ltd Capstone Publishing Limited

It’s not enough for us to wear combats, baseball caps and use words like “chill” – you have to think young and behave young. A stratum of society has arrived that will set the agenda; raised with the Internet and computer games, exposed to between 20-40 thousand ads per year, spending annually billions of pounds and influencing purchasing decisions for up to five times that figure.

Jean Lammiman and Michel Syrett have devised a name for this group: Millennials, defined as born after 1980 and typically aged 18-24 for the purposes of their research, which they have presented in their book “Coolsearch”, with the sub-text “Keeping your organisation in touch and on the edge…”

The first two-thirds of this book careers in Tom Peters fashion from proposition to proposition about this age group, also known as Generation Y (why did we ever start with X? and do we move to A after Z?) It explores attitudes by real Millennials to work: “I can see no reason to go the extra mile in order to increase management figures’ end-of-year bonuses; if I work then it’s for me”. Negative attitudes to work have been reinforced by programmes such as The Office or Friends, and are further complicated by a low boredom threshhold.

In order to attract and retain members of this group, Companies will have to fundamentally change their way of thinking by: “Introducing ideas-generation and team-working methods that will mentally engage Millennials..” or by “Reviewing the way employee communications and strategy reporting is undertaken to ensure that it is up to date and reflects the reality on the ground”

Millennials are also exponents of the 24/7 lifestyle, which apparently has beneficial effects for the country in urban areas by opening up the evening economy. What is not explained is when they sleep, or if they are in contravention of the Working Time Directive, but employers are urged to assist with this by “introducing maximum flexibility where work is undertaken …help them reconcile and integrate the work they undertake for the organisation with their broader 24/7 lives”

Having, as it were, set up the grand entrance for Millennials, and threatening the rest of us with obsolescence, the remainder of the book unaccountably switches into routine management guide mode with sections on Managing, Brainstorming, Branding and Leadership (the usual suspects: Semler, Branson, et al.).

Further, after hailing the arrival of the Uberkinder, organisation heads are urged to “ensure that Millennials in management positions are properly supported and advised by older mentors and senior executives that can temper their impulses and sustain their commitment as well as help establish their authority…”.

The context of this last extract effectively proved to me what I had begun to suspect: this book is saying nothing very new. On a business level, at least, it completely fails to work as it doesn’t do what it says on the tin: explain how organisations can “keep in touch and on the edge”, and why they should need to.

Occasionally, there are shades of a mid-Atlantic voice – referring to “Britain’s Henley Management College” or “Britain’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development” when the text is palpably written from a UK perspective, and (probably the most heinous crime in some eyes!) the word “Cool” in the title has moved on in meaning from that which was understood by the writers.

The one thing that seemed strangely missing from this work was Music (apart from a section on downloading). Many generations identify with their contemporary music (Elvis, Beatles, West Coast, Glam Rock, Punk, etc) but the Millennials are not credited with any identifying genre, even though we know they are inseparable from their iPod life support systems.

Denis Barnard works for HRmeansbusiness Ltd.


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