In change processes, the product owner has an important role to play. They are in direct contact with the shop floor and provide better links between strategy and operation. A factor that leads to more energy and commitment, and ultimately to a good product and faster adoption of the change.
In addition to the product owner, there is another key pillar at the basis of a successful project team: the scrum master. This role can be seen as an evolution of the project leader role. However, that doesn’t mean you can just replace a project leader with a scrum master when you switch to agile working.
The main task of the scrum master is to manage projects and processes. He (or she) has a coaching role and is not involved in the implementation or content of the project being worked on; that’s done by the product owner. A difference with the project leader is that the scrum master is more focused on creating the right framework conditions and removing blockages, so that the scrum team – your professionals – can perform optimally. It’s a serving role, with an emphasis on solving bottlenecks, so that the team can focus on the project and the work is not delayed.
The scrum master pays more attention to the human side. They are empathetic and make sure that everyone is comfortable in their own skin and perform to their full potential. This requires a different leadership style and often a different type of person. A traditional project leader is less concerned with coaching and usually works in an authoritarian and result-oriented way. He sets the guidelines and gives commands, and then reports ‘up’ on the progression.
The question is if whether such a management style suits the new generation of workers. Millennials need more responsibility, influence and fun working with colleagues. They lose energy in a hierarchical organization where decisions are made top-down. As project teams rejuvenate, it’s important to respond to this.
We see that a project team is more successful when the tasks of the project leader are divided between the product owner, who (among other things) monitors progress, scrum teams working together on the realization of the product, and the scrum master who facilitates the process. In this way, the project team is more bottom-up oriented, which stimulates own initiative and cooperation. Team members are more involved and willing to go the extra mile. They feel happier, perform better and deliver more value for the business. Win-win!
How millennials view work and appointments often differs from
the expectations of their older colleagues. They are not used to be handed tasks and having a manager who explains exactly how to perform them. Other generations may think that’s the most normal thing in the world.
Sometimes working with multiple generations within a team creates challenges. It’s important to pay attention to this when putting together the project team. Take the time to find the right balance and identify differences (and similarities). That’s the first step to create more synergy between team members.
Experienced professionals can transfer their knowledge and experience to young people, while these can inspire colleagues with their way of thinking and handling new technology. It’s a misconception to think that combining older workers and young people in one project team is asking for trouble. In practice, it turns out that every employee – old or young – likes to do what gives them energy, with the freedom to do the work as they wish. The scrum master, in consultation with the product owner, enables this.
Want to know more? Read about our project approach and how we deal with change trajectories.