Dec 18

Generation V

Heinz Landau
Heinz Landau is a seasoned business leader who has gained valuable working and leadership experience on three different continents.

When I was driving my car during a trip to Germany earlier on this year, I listened to an interview in the radio with Prof. Dr. Horst W. Opaschowski, one of Germany’s leading futurologists. He stated that in Germany, “Generation V” has arrived. Generation V, a term coined by Opaschowski, stands for the German words Vertrauen, Verlaesslichkeit and Verantwortung, or , in English, trust, dependability and responsibility. He calls the three Vs the glue that keeps society together.

To the same extent that our trust in financial markets, the economy and politicians is sinking, trust grows among fellow men. Greed, mismanagement and lack of responsibility, which all led to the current economic and financial crisis, put trust as the most important currency for the social cohesion of our society at risk. However, in times of crisis, people are searching for reliability and therefore turn to their families, their friends and neighbours to help each other.

I have experienced that myself while working in the eighties in Nigeria, at that time a real hardship posting, a state of permanent crisis so to say. Security and safety were an issue all the time. There were several cases of robbery and murder. So, in the expatriate community we helped each other a lot and developed strong ties. We shared the cost for guards watching our homes 24 hours a day. We organized a manned security vehicle that went up and down our road from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Since phones were hardly working in Nigeria at that time, all expatriates within a certain region bought walkie - talkies, so that we were able to communicate and help each other in case of any incidents (and, by the way, these incidents did really happen).

Also water and electricity were often not available for many hours. So it could happen that before going to work in the morning, we went to a friend’s home to take a shower, since he was lucky to have water and electricity at that time, while we didn’t have. The result of all this: the expatriate community in Nigeria was the closest and most enjoyable I ever worked in. That was also confirmed by other experienced expatriates who had worked in various other countries before. Very close relationships developed and friendships flourished in the expatriate community across all nationalities.

This is a good example that, contrary to times of economical prosperity where people have a tendency to drift away from each other, in times of crisis, people make the experience to depend on each other and their readiness to help each other grows substantially.

In times of crisis, like the current financial and economic one, people are willing to take up more responsibility. They have realized that the governments in the Western world soon will be no longer in a position to provide the same type of support to their citizens as they used to do. Therefore, people are willing to help themselves more.

In times of an uncertain future, growth and prosperity are no longer the main goals. Opaschowski points out that he has sensed a change in values among people. The goal of maximizing money has been replaced by increasing one’s quality of life.

What does the arrival of Generation V mean for companies? As a company leader, I look on it as a big chance. Trust, dependability and responsibility  are values that appear in the value statement of many companies. If these three values are at the same time the values of Generation V, it means that the values of the company and the employees are aligned. If the values are really lived well by both parties, it will be  a great basis for a soaring employee – company – relationship. And then, these three values will not be only the glue that overall keeps society together, but they will also be the glue to keep the company together.

This week, I have accepted an offer from the B. Grimm Group to move from a part time Senior Advisor role to a full time role as Executive Vice President Group Strategy and Corporate Development from January 2010 onwards. The Generation V’s three values trust, dependability and responsibility are something that I will offer to my new colleagues. And at the same time, I am expecting those values also from them.

This entry was posted on Friday, December 18th, 2009 at 10:30 and is filed under Leadership. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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  1. Tobias says:

    Hello Mr. Landau,

    good to know that you want to offer these values to your new colleagues. Personally, I also favor the three “V’s”. Unfortunately I find that precisely these three values seem to be the first ones to be challenged by everyday office life and politics. In fact even in this order. Trust, dependability, responsibility. What do you think?

    Regarding your new position … I wish you best luck. From what I’ve heard you have excellent colleagues there ;-) . Now I’m wondering of course … who is supposed to make the first deposit in your team’s “V-account”: the new President or the new colleagues?

    Best personal regards,

  2. Heinz Landau Heinz Landau says:

    Dear Tobias,

    Thanks for your feedback. You are right that it is challenging to live these three values. Nevertheless, I find it remarkable and encouraging that a futurologist has discovered that the so-called Generation V in Germany has started to live these values. So, why not to join in, even , if we are staying in Thailand or in any other country? And it doesn’t matter whether it is the management or the employees start with living those values. After all, it is the joint understanding of these values and the joint living of them that counts.

    With kind regards,
    Heinz Landau