Roles to enable “Make Meaningful Work”

It is important for everyone on a team — independent of their discipline — to have a clear idea of a product’s or service’s core features and its reason for being. But it’s also important to ground your understanding of any project in a program of work.

The good energies a team brings to a new project can quickly get derailed if people do not have a clear understanding of why they’re working on something.

It is important for everyone on a team — independent of their discipline — to have a clear idea of a product’s or service’s core features and its reason for being. But it’s also important to ground your understanding of any project in a program of work. This better clarifies where a product or service fits into an overall experience and how it will could enhance users’ experience with other products and services over time.

Looking beyond people’s official job titles and the tasks that are an inherent part of those jobs, understanding people’s actual roles on a project can help you think about that project in integrated and holistic ways.

When we speak about roles, we’re not referring to job titles such as Project Manager, Developer, or UX Designer. Rather, we’re thinking about the different roles teammates might play at various points on a project. Certain roles help everyone to do their job well and enable the team to deliver on making meaningful experiences. If you do not put these roles in place, frictions may result, creating difficult work environments and making it unpleasant to go to work.

We have identified four roles that help make meaningful experiences — for both your team and your customers — and encourage integrated ways of working, as follows:

  1. Facilitators — People in this role define approaches that guide the process of informing, sensemaking, and evaluating. They craft agendas for working sessions and identify what problems need attention. Facilitators also manage interactions between functions, aggregate a team’s learnings, and map learnings to shared artifacts. They identify themes that require further study and set goals for the team’s next working sessions.
  2. Mentors — People who are mentors need to be aware of approaches and skills that require ongoing development and practice. They organize safe spaces in which people can practice, employing helpful approaches over and over during working sessions and across projects. Mentors should work closely with facilitators and custodians to identify the knowledge the team has captured and map it to a learning program for all team members Their focus is on informing, sensemaking, and evaluating learnings.
  3. Connectors — Team members who play this role create artifacts that help bridge gaps between people and make interactions between them feel more fluid. They connect everyone’s skills and roles.
  4. Custodians — People in this role maintain the knowledge base that forms over time and leverage this knowledge in creating methods and courses that help project teammates get better at what they do.
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