This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

December 19, 2000


12 Days until January 1, 2001

The concept of "extreme" is influencing a generation suggesting some shifts in the approach people will take to life and its opportunities.

The "extreme" description refers to stretching experiences beyond traditional limits. The most prevalent reference is to sports activities, but it is now being applied to other kinds of experiences and products. The theme is spreading, particularly appealing to younger people. The message is clear: push the limits. Reach beyond accepted boundaries and accepted ways of doing things. Don't do what's expected-do more. Take risks.

As this type of thinking-and behavior-become more prevalent, more accepted, people will push to the limit-and beyond the limit-as a matter of course. Any and all limits-rules, laws, policies, conventional ways of doing things will all be threatened. Standard operating procedures will be challenged, as will time-honored processes and relationships.

Is this something we should anticipate ten or twenty years? No. Extreme behaviors in employment will start sooner. Young workers will become more demanding, insisting on designing jobs to fit their needs, their desires, their ideas about pushing the limits-doing things never been done before. They will want to TELL their bosses what they will do . . . and what the bosses should do. As you might imagine, this aggressiveness will be uncomfortable for bosses, difficult to understand and manage.

As the extreme employees gain influence, expect to see radically different marketing campaigns, unorthodox sales methods, and more creative approaches to manufacturing and distribution. These efforts will change the way some companies do business, forcing other companies to react and putting competitors at a disadvantage.

Has this movement started already? Watch carefully, particularly with emerging dot-com companies. The extreme behavior will come from people in their twenties, and from others still in their teens. But, remember, we may see radical thinking and strategy from older people, too.

Begin looking for signs of pushing the limits. Then go behind what you see and explore what-and who-is driving the strategies. Enjoy the anticipation of what might happen as people, companies, and industries go to the extreme.

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