“the REMIX” by Lindsey Pollak – a Book review

"the REMIX" by Lindsey Pollak - a book review

Book review

The book “the REMIX” by Lindsey Pollak deals with challenges and solutions in a multi-generational workspace. Me, being a Generation-Xer, working with a lot of Gen-Y and Millenials, read the book and had some real A-HA moments. Those moments make a book valuable (and allow a better understanding of your employees, colleagues and even kids).
The book is definitely worth reading. It is a good mixture of theoretical aspects and practice tips, examples and easy to read (especially for a non-native). Most impressive – for me – were the rules for remixers – people who pay special attention to the differences in expectations due to different ages / generations.
I’d definitely recommend the book to “new work” addicts and leaders with a “lean” or “agile” mindset.

Lindsey’s rules for remixers – something to keep in mind from “the REMIX” by Lindsey Pollak

#1 Stop the Generational Shaming.

“I see no hope for the future of our people if they are dependent on the frivolous youth of today.”

poet Hesiod, eighth century B.C.

There is no point in blaming other generations for whatever they do. Most likely it’s a form of socialization, a habit – and most likely it’s up to us to try to understand them better.

#2 Empathize.

Replace the blaming from #1 with empathy. Try to understand them. Why does this person of another generation act like she / he does? What’s the motivation behind? Try to see the world through the person of the other generation.

#3 Assume the Best Intentions.

Expanding on #2 Empathize, always assume the best intentions. This enables you to better understand the “why” behind somebody’s behavior. It also allows to explain the “why” behind your reasoning.

“It’s so annoying that the Millennials and Gen Zs on my team always wear earbuds in their ears at work.”

#4 Think “And”, Not “Or”.

If you ever come across to make a decision “the old way” or doing something “the new way” – never make this exclusive choice – combine the best of both.

#5 Remember That “Common Sense Is Not So Common”.

Don’t take your socialization as granted. Other people were raised in different economic conditions and in a different technology context.

Executive: But that was confidential!
Millenial: You never told us that!
Executive: I didn’t think I had to!

Traditionalists, Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have a different understanding of sharing information. For Millenials and younger information sharing is a natural habit and leads sometimes to misunderstandings.

#6 Don’t Change What Works.

Do not change what works in your leadership style and habits. Good leadership skills are inter-generational and independent of the age of people you’re working with.

#7 Be More Transparent.

Share information with your people, explain rationales behind decisions – make them understand to raise their understanding. Don’t be 100% transparent – but more transparent.

#8 It’s Okay if Everybody Wins.

Give more trophies for accomplishment. Celebrate, everybody wants to win, wants to be a hero. Don’t allow questions like “When there’s an intergenerational conflict, which generation should win?” – the right question would be: “How do we flex and adapt to one another so each person can have the opportunity to be part of the winning team?”

Classification of Generations

GenerationBornSize USCommonly Cited Characteristic
Traditionalists1928-194547mloyal, cautious, formal, proud
Baby Boomers1946-196476mself-focused, competitive, optimistic, “forever young” mentality
Generation X1965-198055mindependent, cautious, skeptical, tech pioneers
Millenials1981-199662mself-expressive, group oriented, purpose-driven, tech dependent
Generation Z1977-tbdtbdcautious, technology advanced, diverse

To keep in mind from “the REMIX” by Lindsey Pollak

Lindsay cites an CMO’s answer on a panel discussion on the question “If you could go back to the very beginning of your career and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you tell your younger self? What do you most wish you had done then, knowing what you know now?”
The CMO said: “If I could go back to the beginning of my career and give myself one piece of advice, I would tell myself not to be so afraid. When I think back on my career – and I have been very successful and achieved a lot – but to this day I still think about and regret the jobs I didn’t apply for, the raises and promotions I didn’t ask for, the ideas I had and didn’t share. I don’t regret my mistakes or embarrassments of failures; what I regret are the times I held myself back.”

Find this book as well on my Agile Bookshelf.

SCRUM and Management – helping or disturbing?

The role of management in SCRUM

At a time the product development chain went to an entire stop. At this point we decided to introduce a new method – SCRUM. We all recognized that the project-waterfallish style of delivering our daily work didn’t work out that well. So, the demand for a radical change was recognized at all levels in the company.

We decided to move away from the old style (it was not even project-style work – it was … hmmmh hard to find a word for it) towards a new way of working – agile & SCRUM. The C-level took a decision to invest in consulting to help us implementing the fundament of our today’s daily work. So, management had quite a stake in the agile process.

When the product owners started to discover their freedom to take decisions on the priorities of stories something really strange happened. We started to have some really bad situations where a whole process came to a halt due to non-informed executives. Who decided to take this story before the other story? Why wasn’t management involved in this decision? Well, some of these decisions had real impact on our business (the product owners couldn’t oversee at this time). Other decisions turned out to have almost no impact no our business. But where is the borderline? How to handle these situations in an agile organization? What’s the role of SCRUM?

Strange days, these days

We took the situation to one extreme: we introduced the – I call it – “Everybody-into-one-room-prioritization”-meeting. We got all stakeholders from our departements into one room and did the prioritization of stories. At this stage, the one who was able to out-shout the others had the prioritiy secured for their stories. We haven’t had an objective way to do business value determination and hence persons being able to express themselves in a convincing way were always higher prioritized.

We weren’t overly successful with this method and decided to empower our product owners. They met in a “backlog meeting” and got the prioritization of the story items right. At this time we still believed in the one-and-only instance of a company backlog.

Nowaydays, we moved away from the single-instance company backlog and have topic-bound teams and team-bound backlogs. Paired with empowered and more confident product owners – it seems to work.

Lessons learned?

  • Management, empower your people!
  • Trust them and don’t start micro-management. That’s simply said: frustrating for everybody!