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Scrum Teams Thinking Like Millennials is the Way Ahead

By Professional Scrum Trainer, John Gillespie, Scrum.org
Agile and Scrum can help virtually any organization, from small startup tech businesses with mostly young employees to well established Fortune 2,000 companies with a much more experienced staff. However, since it is used with such a wide variety of people, the specifics of each Agile implementation needs to be slightly adjusted in order to deliver the maximum amount of value to the team members and other stakeholders.  There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach and thus be leery when someone tries to sell you a “best practice”.  
Of all the types of individuals who have been involved in Scrum implementations, there is one group who most frequently comes out on top, at least in terms of learning and development in Agile environments. This group is Millennials, who are quickly becoming the largest category of employees in any industry.
Rather than being dismissive of Millennials, other generations of employees, such as Baby Boomers and Gen X, should instead be looking towards Millennials in order to determine a good path towards embracing the Scrum values while pursuing business agility.  Following are the several reasons why it benefits Scrum teams to think like a Millennial.

Millennials Challenge the Concept of “No”

Anyone who has been a part of the labor force for more than 25 years, will tend to have a adopted the mindset in which she/he was trained. This mindset usually involves the ideas that permission is vital for any decision, success requires strict obedience, and rules are never meant to be broken. While there is certainly a time and place where these concepts may be valid, Scrum Product Development is not one of them.
One of the worst things that a person can go into an Agile Transformation with is the mindset that the word “no” is an expected and generally accepted thing. Luckily, Millennials tend not to have this mindset. They are still new enough to the workforce and have slightly different beliefs that allow them to almost always be ready to challenge authority and demand explanations behind the word “no”. If no one is ever willing to ask questions, speak truth to power or challenge authority, then one can never achieve the maximum benefit

Millennials are More Open-Minded

Experience is almost always an asset for teams to have. One of the few exceptions to this rule involves Scrum training. Experience is often associated with bias and firm beliefs as well.
For example, it is not uncommon for a team of older experienced employees to challenge Professional Scrum Trainers by saying that what they are instructing will not work at their company or that it will be too difficult to adopt the new strategies. This kind of mindset is going to limit what the employees are capable of during a Scrum implementation.
Instead, they should take the mindset of Millennials. The younger employees tend to have very little bias towards any organizational methods, meaning that they are more like a ball of clay ready to be molded. They do not have a track record of business endeavors that drastically influence their attitude towards future business endeavors. So it is best to check emotional baggage at the door and go into Scrum training with a blank mindset willing to try strategies presented. To begin to experiment with the art of possible, one often has to suspend disbelief.

Millennials Are Willing to Have the Tough Conversations

A key part of any Scrum is the close inspection of how the team is functioning and how they can improve. A major part of this activity is scrutinizing the role and importance of each team member, which can often lead to some uncomfortable conversations being had.
Since Millennials have been shown to have a slightly higher emotional intelligence than many of their baby boomer colleagues, it allows them to be part of these conversations with relative ease. They do not skirt around the issue and are able to address the issues head-on while still remaining respectful towards their team members.

Millennials Love Problem Solving

It is no surprise that the world of business is filled with problems that need solving. In order to best tackle this inevitable aspect, employees need to have a desire to want to problem-solve. In my experience, Millennials are adept at solving problems, especially when it comes to electronic systems. This is helped by the fact that Millennials know how to use the internet in order to find the answers that they need.
So whereas other generational workers might take issue with a problem by stating that they do not have the proper skill set to deal with it or do not understand it, Millennials will instead dive headfirst into the issue and use every resource available to try and figure it out. They also do not get easily discouraged when something requires a lot of trial and error, which is an extremely valuable trait to have when it comes to business.
All these reasons and more are exactly why taking on the mindset of a Millennial is only going to be beneficial to a Scrum Team. To improve your business agility and involve your employees in better Scrum implementations, contact the Professional Scrum Trainers at Agile-it today.

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