What do these companies have in common: Disney, E&J Gallo, Airbnb? They all started in recessions. Indeed the Walt Disney studio and the Gallo winery both started in the Great Depression. Airbnb started in the 2008 recession, the one that GenZ saw decimate their parents’ worlds. It’s not a new thought to point out that some of the largest corporations in the world started in tough times. But here’s a thought for this current pandemic recession.

The takeaway from the parable of the companies starting in tough times is that they had a vision that addressed both the current malaise as well as a brighter future further down the line. To do that you need a new way of working, a new way of thinking, a new way of being. A way to navigate the current stormy seas but also a way to take advantage of the calmer oceans that will lie ahead.

We’re seeing plenty of that forced on us by the accelerant that is Covid-19. But too many companies are doing the usual thing when they realise their boat is leaking. They start chucking people overboard. It usually goes the same way. First to be fed to the sharks are the cabin boys, the deckhands, the most junior of the officers. Ironically they’re usually the lightest, abandoned by far more weighty senior personnel.

If you want the boat not only not to sink but to float lightly and make progress you’d actually be better off chucking the heavyweight senior management overboard. But it’s the senior suits who are in charge of the boat so they never throw each other out.

And then they either founder in the heavy seas or they somehow survive. If they survive they get to calmer climes to discover they’ve no idea where to go, and there’s nobody left to do the actual work of rowing or sailing. But they’ve survived, that’s the main thing.

Is that good enough? To repeat that pattern yet again? Obviously not. Because this is the time when good, far-reaching decisions will bring your corporate boat out into the calmer waters in great shape, moving smoothly and efficiently through the water, forging ahead of those boats behind that are clashing their oars together or drifting with the tide.

You know where this is going. You need the right crew. The ones who are light and agile in their thinking, who just may have some brilliant ideas about streamlining the boat, making it faster and more efficient. Not much chance of that if you abandoned them to Davy Jones’ locker as soon as things started to get tough.

Corporations need GenZ more than ever. Senior management who are, I’m sorry to say, largely the past, need GenZ, who are the future. That’s simple maths, simple history, simple biology. But simple isn’t easy. It’s far too easy to start dumping stuff overboard at the first sign of trouble.

Back in the 2008 recession I ran a creative agency and we had a motor manufacturer client. They ran a rally team and we had the brief for marketing the whole operation at the very beginning of that year. Within a month, with the recession starting to hit, they’d dumped us, dumped the drivers, sold the cars and pretended it had never happened. They’d spent years building up to that point. They’ve never had a team since and all the knowledge and experience they’d gained has been lost. That boat well and truly sank.

So if you want a ship-shape organisation, don’t chuck the newest baby out with the bath water. Look ahead, plan ahead, go ahead. GenZ are the crew you need.

And if you want to understand your crew before you either let them on board or decide to keep them on board, our best suggestion is to read our book, which is called GenZ Insight for a reason.


GenZ Insight: How To Make Your Organisation A GenZ Magnet

Authors: Graham Scott and Guy Ellis

Publisher: The Message Medium

Pagination: 132 pages

Price: print £14.99 ($19.99);ebook £9.99 ($9.99)

Publication date: 31 July 2020

Available through: Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com

If you’d like a signed or personalised copy, please do contact us at office@genzinsight.com




“They are perhaps the most brand-critical, bullshit-repellent, questioning group around.”

Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of Innovation at JWT

“GenerationZ are Millennials on steroids.”

Lucie Greene, Worldwide Director of Innovation at JWT

“GenerationZ are self-starters, not selfie-takers.”

Lucozade Energy report

“Millennials– Self-centred. Generation Z – Self-aware.”

Ernst & Young

“Generation Z characterises itself by highlighting the need for passion and motivation in their work.”

Claire Stradling, Manager of Charities and NFP