This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

February 1, 2000

Short, Deep Relationships

334 days until January 1, 2001

"I don't want all the details. Just give me the 'Reader's Digest' version."

That expression, heard for years in all sorts of environments, is a tribute to a fine publication . . . and became a signal for a trend. "USA Today" now gives readers a tightly-written, short, to-the-point report on news of interest. CNN and similar news networks earn popularity by quick snapshots of what's happening in the world. We learn a little about a lot without investing a lot of time. The expediency of e-mail has been a symptom as well, featuring back-and-forth exchanges of short messages.

We see a trend for relationships to move in the same direction: deep, meaningful, but relatively short. An increasing number of us seek a series of relationships that are significant, but brief. Long-term commitments are less in vogue-in our employment and in our personal lives.

With the competitive intensity that has emerged from our labor shortage, workers are able to gain a wide range of rather short experiences in jobs that interest them. It's like a period of experimentation that's been extended for an entire career. We saw the trend start in the United States, and we're getting all sorts of signs that the tendency to change jobs frequently is becoming a global phenomenon. The idea of decades of service to one employer has become an anachronism.

Personal relationships are moving in the same direction. What implications might this have for marriage longevity? Will we see the divorce rate go up? Will people have 3, 4, 5, 6, or more spouses in a lifetime? Or will they even get married at all? Living together has become an accepted lifestyle; will people just "live together" with others, changing partners at will? Are we moving toward communal living?

Follow-Up: We've devoted a few Trend Alerts to exploring the future of our educational system. While we realize this is a touchy subject, with emotional and logical arguments on various sides of the issue, we appreciate the opportunity to share our perspectives-based on what we learn in our work and research. Alternative perspectives are shown in our Trend Alert Letters section at Your comments are always welcome.

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