What if I told you we are all the same?

I am a millennial. Perhaps I am stretching the limits of what a millennial is at 38, but whatever dude. I love my Roku streaming device. I love binge watching House of Cards, Homeland, and Narcos. I am a super user of Spotify, podcasts, Uber, and Headspace. And so are my 70 year old parents.

Is this now a thing? Although I think my parents are awesome, I don’t consider them unique. What do my parents and I, separated by a generation, have in common? Do we suddenly like the same things? Does value transcend generations, and if so, do we now start calling bullshit on reports like “generation Y likes [insert generalisation]”, or “millennials are [insert noun]”?

I posit that we all just want the same things, and the reason we should all watch millennials is that although people discover technology products at their own pace, millennials’ pace of adoption is generally the fastest.

Generational thinking is lazy and generic. Too often we rely on what we have been told or whatever information we can find out about our target market, without actually getting out of the building and talking to people. When you do get out to talk with people, you realise very quickly that most people are nice, and generally speaking, we all want the same things. I prefer to apply cross-generational thinking — i.e. approach people as individuals irrespective of age, and try to pull out more universal truths and insights. This kind of cross-generational conversation is often a lot more clarifying and relieving because we untether our thinking from generalisations.

The human adoption curve

Too often we see products designed for millennials that sooner or later fizzle out. Then we blame millennials, and say they’re part of the problem for the failure. As product managers we should be designing solutions that are intrinsically human and solve frustrations that are common to us all.

I call BS on zingers that make broad generalisations about only millennials expecting timely, relevant and personalised experiences from service providers. Why? Because we all do. My 10 year old cousin does, and so does my 70 year old mother.