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4 reasons why millennials will create a flashpoint for the Agile Revolution in 2018

Posted on: March 5, 2018

Categories: Featured | Information Technology

By Tracy Libertino-Fegarsky, VP of Technology and Project Management

Scrum Masters, timeboxes and sprints – oh my!

Agile has come a long way since 2001 when Dave Thomas and a group of software developers produced their “Manifesto for Agile Software Development”. Thomas and his peers realized that software development in the 1990’s was flawed. Companies were wasting time and money fixing software that didn’t work. Thomas’ group recognized that development projects needed to be iterative, collaborative and focused on creating working solutions above all else. Fast forward to 2018 and the cavalier ideas presented by Thomas have gone from fringe to mainstream. The Agile approach is permeating and revolutionizing software development – and in 2018, millennials are leading the charge.

Millennials are entering the project management workforce in mass.
Having finally amassed enough experience to meet the extensive requirements needed to achieve the PMP certification, millennials are flocking to the field. With the average age of managers in general at the age of 33, these qualified millennials have learned the ropes, led others and are beginning to make the transition from manager to project manager. The Agile mindset with its purpose-driven focus makes the project management route increasingly attractive to them.

Experienced Boomers are retiring in mass from the project management profession.
Most active project managers have over 30 years’ experience, placing them firmly in the “Boomer” demographic of which roughly 10,000 are retiring on a daily basis. Clearly, this exodus is creating a gaping hole that needs to be filled with talented project management professionals and producing opportunity for millennials. According to the Project Management Institute’s 2017 Report, retirement is a primary reason why project management positions are becoming available. Of these opportunities, the bulk are in Manufacturing and Management/Professional Services, with 97% and 52% falling in those categories respectively. In addition, another 2.2 million new project-oriented roles are projected to be created each year through 2027.

The “Agile Manifesto” mirrors millennials preferred methods of working.
Agile methodology involves frequent feedback opportunities that allow for adjustment, correction and mastery. It also utilizes collaboration to create end products that leverage collaboration from multiple angles and discourages “hard rules”. These agile traits mesh well with the way millennials work. According to a recent study by The University of North Carolina, millennials prefer flexibility and an unstructured flow of communication. Additionally, they value opportunities to work together toward a common goal. With 71% of companies reporting that they are employing Agile methods, millennials are poised to tackle these tasks.

Millennials want coaches not bosses.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that “millennials don’t want bosses-they want coaches” and “millennials don’t want annual reviews-they want ongoing conversations”. In Agile settings, frequent “coaching” conversations and immediate feedback are built into the framework. Indeed, some of the earliest resistance to Agile came from Senior and Middle Managers because they were forced to challenge their notion of how they add value and it required them to shift from delivering mandates to coaching and empowering. For example, the practice of retrospectives highlight how Agile work teams use feedback and coaching to continuously improve. Millennials crave and respond well to these opportunities to better their performance.

To borrow a phrase from Billy Joel, millennials “didn’t start the fire” when it comes to Agile, however, they are poised to fan the flames as the framework is adopted in new industries and continues to be an effective means to solve problems, produce new products and meet customer needs. While no one can predict where Agile and the millennials following its manifesto will take us in 2018, one thing is for sure – it’s going to be a fun ride!

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