I say that task ownership is critical to any project. If you have team members who feel that they don't "own" their tasks, then these tasks will not be executed as they should (low quality, missing features, etc...)
Now the question is, are team members obliged to feel task ownership? I don't think so, because no one can oblige anyone to "own" something, regardless of what that "something" is.
Now why do team members don't feel any task ownership?
In my opinion, there are several reasons for this:
- The project manager is not a leader.
- The tasks are ambiguous.
- The task are too hard.
- There are "poisonous" team members on your project team.
- There are too many unresolved conflicts on your project.
- The same task is being passed from one team member (who can't execute it) to another.
- The whole environment in the company is too corporate, and does not envision the "small people" as an integral and as an indispensable part of the company.
How do you promote task ownership in your projects?
- Ensure that you have the characteristics of a leader.
- Ensure that you are treating your team members equally.
- Ensure that the tasks you are assigning are very clear, are fairly estimated, and are assigned to the right people.
- Ensure that you create a balance between the tedious and the exciting/challenging tasks assigned to each and every team member.
- Promote an environment of team collaboration on your project.
- Be proactive in addressing conflicts and risks on your project.