Project Management for Millennials

It has been quite a few years we’ve broken the cookie cutter career molds with bespoke paths to success. Even the definition of success has changed. Many of us live in naive or duality of the world where a stark difference that existed within our homes were two different value systems found a or collide as they may have a few times. I am someone who was born in 1981, many studies don’t count me and the kids of 1980 & 1981 as millennial (as per the logical definition of anyone who becomes adult or turned 18 in millennium i.e. 2000 A.D. is a millennial) and many studies do by approximation, so I am one of the few impacted in this generational divide by classification of baby boomers and millennials.

I found a contrasting world on both my sides where my elder cousins felt I was too naive or radical for them whereas a few years younger to me felt I was too much of an old school. That gave me a unique insight of seeing both the categories as an outsider and have a balanced viewpoint for both. I bring that analysis and viewpoint to my work while dealing with my team members and try to see things from their side if I feel the resistance for a certain task or type of work.

I feel very lucky to have worked with some of the best professionals in my 15years of experience and all being seniors to me gave me a set of rules to abide by which were considered to be keys to success in a professional life. Values like discipline, loyalty, hard work, high work ethics, be a problem solver and being professional at any cost was put in front of me by strong work examples than just preaching. I hope I would be able to give the same to my next generation both in personal life and in professional, but I wonder many times, even though the core values remain same but the way people or shall I say, Millennials perceive these values the way we used to?

The answer is clear NO! They do believe in core values alright, but they’ve seen the world in a different lens, their era is different and so are their challenges. When I was starting my work back in 2004 things were still pretty much old school. Even in IT, monolithic systems were said to be the safe options for a career security. Java, .Net and python were beginning to change the way generic coding was done and enterprise software was waking up to the possibility of High-level language driven performance and platform neutrality. Before those days C &C++ were still considered to be the Go To languages if performance-driven systems are to be built.

Project Management as a discipline was considered as the ultimate graduation level for IT professionals. (I know this was not the image in the valley (i.e. SiliconValley) but in India young developers aspire to be promoted to Senior SoftwareEngineers, then project leads and then Project Managers. Very few people had goals beyond that. They used to build a career roadmap around bigger and bigger projects to handle.

But with new age thinking and with rapid application development tools and methodologies the scene changed. Further assisted with Agile transformation where smaller but more focused teams were built to deliver systems fast and quicker than before. The effort to build the BRD was given away to crisp smaller scoped user stories and the overall product is built with high priority features first, means the overall structure of products or services also change than before.

What this means for new generation developers or fresh graduates entering the workforce, is that they see direct interactions happening between Product Owner (read Business)and team and that feels empowering. Scrum Master’s role or even Project management is seen more like people management or clerical work respectively. That puts off the new technology resources to ignore scrum master or project management roles and the discipline entirely.

Where will this lead to project management as a discipline? There are tons of time-tested processes and knowledge that Project management discipline has, we’rerunning the risk of losing the interest of future generation just because of a perceived image about the discipline. We need to spice up the things by introducing more behavioral driven tools to the discipline and empower the role of a scrum master more.

Though I believe it is the right term for a Scrum Master as a servant leader, the linguistics play a huge role in building perceptions in the industry. Given the crucial nature of the role, tagging it with a word that signifies servitude doesn’t create the right aura around the role. We may have to rethink our role positioning to get it the right focus in the new age workplace. Millennials think and work according to their environments and we may have to reflect that environment in the workplaces too, to get the best of their abilities and skills.

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