The book: The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop, and Keep Tomorrow's Employees Today, by Jeanne C. Meister and Karie Willyerd; HarperBusiness; May 2010.

The big idea: In 2020, employees from five generations, with formative experiences ranging from World War II to World of Warcraft, will be sharing the workplace. Companies must prepare to manage their different needs, expectations, and attitudes. Mostly, though, employers need to master social technologies and offer the personalized experiences prized by younger generations.

The backstory: The authors have backgrounds in corporate learning, Meister with Accenture and Willyerd at Sun Microsystems.

Sometimes you gawp: has conducted job interviews on Second Life.

Sometimes you groan: Deloitte is encouraging 12-year-olds to pursue careers in accounting or consulting.

If you read nothing else: The chapter on "social learning" argues that "How have you helped me learn lately?" will become the most important question for future workers. Some of the predictions that close the book are provocative (for example, employees will elect their leaders).

Rigor Rating: 9 (1=Who Moved My Cheese?; 10=Good to Great). The authors surveyed 2,200 professionals and 300 employers, developed 50 case studies, and generally put their backs into it.