This actually is a huge issue under discussion in Human Resources departments of large enterprise corporations.
It seems to be breaking out by generations, with Baby Boomers, Gen-X
(apparently 1960-1978), and Gen-Y (a.k.a. The Internet Generation)
groupings. The only real demographic is the boomers, and "Gen-X" came
into being as those who were in the following generation. Then Gen-Y
are those who followed the Gen-X people.
One emerging trend in these three somewhat artificial groupings is work ethic, and "initiative" is part of that work ethic.
I did some presentations for an HR division in a global consulting
company, not so long ago. In that presentation (yes, I actually read
them), this idea of doing only just enough to get by is a primary
problem to overcome....oh wait..."challenge" to overcome. :-)
Another is the utter lack of any sort of company loyalty or desire for
long-term work situations. This leads to problems in succession and
promotions. In my opinion, companies have done this to themselves, with
all the lay-offs of the 80s and 90s, the outsourcing, and the "instant
firing" we`re so familiar with. Who would believe they`re actually
going to be with a company for 30 years anymore?
One suggestion as to that Gen-Y lack of interest, attention, and
initiative is that it`s a result of the "sound byte" mentality of today`s news
and entertainment. These young folks have grown up with the instant
gratification mindset of Baby Boomers, as well as the super-fast access
to anything via the Internet.
It also goes to the educational system, where in the past students had
to actually do some research to write a paper. Now, those students
either copy and paste off the Web, or copy an entire paper without even
We, as Baby Boomers, have created all this. It`s our lack of interest
in long-range values, tradition, and absolutes. It`s our desire to have
both parents working, and our superficial slogans to replace real
thought. We`ve raised kids by sending them everywhere other than home,
ignoring shortcuts, ending discipline, and buying into the ethical
relativism of needle-point philosophers.
So yes, initiative is failing. But who`s to blame? We are.