Sunday, June 14, 2015

About the kids ...

People wrote and talked about their impressions from the 2015 HP Discover and all I could think about was how much younger the crowd looks. There are some distinguished silver heads (we used to call them silver backs, but they took offense, so we stopped that), but they seem to be in leadership positions. Everywhere else it was bright and cheerful smiles coming from younger people only too happy to man the booths twelve plus hours a day.

Most of the troops looked like our kids … and there is a reason! With HP offering attractive retirement packages of the kind “you’ve got to be kidding!” most of the older baby boom generation of workers, and even some of the older leaders, just could not refuse. This would tell me that HP wanted to encourage its older cadre to simply go home – the experience and accumulated knowledge isn’t a value worth pursuing any longer. Youth, energy, new ideas and an open mind to embrace the open source; is that what it’s all about today? Is it now a given that age isn’t accommodating of change? Are there those out there who perceive the possible contributions of us, deeply rooted in technology, as less tangible than those coming out of college?

I think with the company taking on the new brave world with The Machine, even as those working on the open source story were getting tired of the skeptical older folks wandering the corridors and talking about the dangers of “giving the shop away” (by going even further down the open source path) little consideration was given to what was being lost. But not every IT elder thinks this way and indeed, some of the most vocal supporters of open source are aging too – just think about the open source movement that started back in the late 1990s! As for the Free Software Foundation, founded by Richard Stallman some thirty years ago, it was way back in October, 1985! So this is not a new concept but has been welling up for some time, supported by many who now have silver in their hair.  

Paula Giovannetti, CPPM, wrote a great blog talking about the older folks having a hard time finding a job. See https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/ok-lets-get-table-talk-age-paula-giovannetti-cppm?trk=hp-feed-article-title. Perhaps most revealing of all was when Giovannetti acknowledges that, “One of my most valuable assets is forty years of networking. It would be hard for you to come up with a topic in my field for which I do not have a number of very capable professionals to whom I can turn for advice and answers.” Often, this aspect of experience is simply lost on many as the review the credentials of potential candidates for an employment opportunity.

Between the pruning by HP, and personal stories from the older folks having a heck of a time finding employment, it dawned on me that the future is not ours; the future truly belongs to our kids! Yes, to echo the words of The Who, apparently, “the kids are alright!” If those of us with gray hair continue to participate then that’s cool but seriously, even with the kids proving to be alright, isn’t the experience and knowledge spread across our NonStop community worth a lot more than simply being told to go home?

This of course brings the issue of what will happen to the leaders steering the ship toward the bright new future – they too may become eligible for a 6, 12 or 18 months package, and guess what – that future will happen, no matter what or who, and Richard told me that he actually heard it said, in the general session on the first day of the 2015 HP Discover,  “The graveyards are full of indispensable men,” according to Charles de Gaulle. 

Even now, as we drive back to Boulder I am calling my hair dresser making an appointment to have the deep roots of my hair tinted a golden hue – perhaps it really is that simple to correct the perceptions that seem to be every bit as deep rooted. And off color!

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