Generation Why

How Boomers Can Lead and Learn from Millennials and Gen Z

Table of contents

Figures vii Introduction 3 1 Young People: A Fundamental Shift in the Workplace 12 2 The Modern Worldview: Science, Architecture, and Religion 19 3 Making It Real/Postmodernism Medicine: “Doc, I Have Three Theories about What Is Wrong with Me” 24 4 The Postmodern Worldview: Truth, Emotions, and Hierarchy 36 5 Privileging All Voices: Listen More, Talk Less 50 6 The Importance of Authenticity: Self Lost, and Self Regained 66 7 A Sense of Purpose: Work Must Have Meaning 77 8 The Modern Mentor in a Postmodern Workspace: The Voice of Support 95 9 The Millennial/Zer Need for Feedback: Four Reasons Why and How to Give It 111 10 Similar but Different: Generation Zers Are Not Millennials 129 11 Managing Upward and Being Managed by Millennials/Gen Zers: Key to Being a Really Useful Manager 143 Acknowledgments 149 Key Postmodern Terms 151 Notes 155 Further Reading 181 Index 193

A down-to-earth management approach for a postmodern generation of workers.


Perhaps more than ever before, young people entering the workforce are searching for meaning and authenticity in their careers. This book helps managers understand the postmodern worldview held by generation Z and younger millennials, how it influences their behaviour at work, and how they want to be led in the workplace.

Karl Moore takes a practical and down-to-earth approach to understanding what drives millennials and generation Z and how the education system they were brought up in has informed their worldview. Based on hundreds of interviews conducted with under-thirty-year-olds across Canada, the United States, Japan, Iceland, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, as well as interviews with executives to gain their perspectives on changing dynamics in the workplace, Generation Why provides a thorough study of these generations’ ideas about truth, hierarchy, and leadership.

Focusing on listening, purpose, reverse mentoring, feedback, and how people relate to each other in the workplace, Generation Why provides the essential tools for effectively working with millennials and generation Z and unlocking their full professional potential.


“Generation Why is an excellent book with concrete lessons for leaders and managers. Moore’s conversational style and anecdotes from his experiences at McGill, Oxford, and IBM make the book enjoyable to read and summarize his research in an accessible way.” Policy Magazine

“A highly readable, informative, and perceptive answer to a perennial question in the business world: how do companies renew themselves by attracting the best and brightest of young talent, from one generation to the next?” L. Ian MacDonald, editor of Policy magazine

“In his study of young workers for this book, Moore conducted over 800 interviews with under-35 workers (and shirkers) in Canada, the U.S., Japan, and all over Europe, as well as over 750 C-suite executives. Previous to his academic career, Moore also spent 11 years working in high tech firms, so he has the advantage of being a capitalist believer and doer, not just a business critic, … .” ValueWalk