Services Offered

  James  4 mins read.

Long-Term Consulting

I frequently help large engineering organizations make deep structural changes. These engagements typically involve a custom long-duration agreement, rather than individually packaged services.

The work covered by my LeSS case study, is a great example of this sort of long-term consulting work.

Private Training and Workshops

An Executive Workshop including formal training coupled with an informed consent workshop is a particularly good way to establish a relationship. The focus is on achieving alignment within management, and then determining and committing to an agreed course of action. This is discussed in greater detail farther down.

At other times, a stand-alone private Certified LeSS Practitioner course can be a good way to increase awareness, and hopefully open the door for future changes.

Ongoing Consulting Versus Separate Packages

Separate service packages are sometimes a practical approach, especially when flight times make weekly commuting impractical. Each of the services below provide reasonable boundaries for creating discrete packages.

Coupling formal off-site executive training with an informed consent workshop is a particularly good way to get started. By the time the off-site activities are done, a sponsor will be in a much better position to know whether or not they wish to move forward with a LeSS or LeSS-like adoption.

An Informed Consent Workshop is intended to achieve the alignment, buy-in, and commitment of management to move to action. This is manifested as an extra day following a system-modeling based Certified LeSS Practitioner or Certified LeSS for Executives course. The formal course instruction illuminates the motivation for change, and the informed consent workshop focuses on gaining the alignment and commitment required to move to action.

An off-site workshop is typically designed in collaboration with an internal client advocate to ensure the best outcomes possible. This involves both shaping the agenda for the last day, and ensuring the right people are in the off-site. Including people with authority to change the system is critical to success. Just as critical is including experienced hands-on practitioners to bring ground truth to the discussions.

Although the agenda will vary based on need, the high-level objectives are more straightforward. The objectives include but are not limited to the following:

  • Clarify the product definition for the pilot effort
  • Determine who will be given an opportunity to participate in the pilot effort, and their anticipated roles
  • Identify the initial adoption boundary within the product
  • Create a tentative timeline for training and launching the pilot teams
  • Address any critical concerns which surface
  • Obtain commitment to move forward

There is unlikely to ever again be as good a time to make a fully informed decision to enact structural change than during the Informed Consent Workshop. It is critical the executive sponsor leads the group to a committed decision before the workshop concludes. Agile Carpentry can provide guidance and counsel, yet only the executive sponsor can lead the group to act on what has been learned.

Launch Facilitation

The launch facilitation add-on focuses on getting the teams up and running. The crux of this activity tends to center around what is frequently termed a “flip-event” by the LeSS community.

I have been most successful launching self-managing teams when I clearly explain what the teams need to accomplish and then fade into the background as much as possible. When people have questions, I am there to give guidance. When the group goes off-track, I step back into the foreground and refocus their efforts, and then fade back into the background.

It is often best to provide more detailed training in the moment a group arrives at a step in the process. There is a tremendous amount of nuanced contextually dependent guidance which is impossible to cover within a 3-day Certified LeSS Practitioner course.

Coaching Through First Sprint

Upon exiting the launch activities, teams will be in their first Sprint. They must now put into practice all they have learned and agreed to. Many of the commitments team members and management have made to each other during the launch activities are much different than they have experienced throughout the entirety of their professional careers.

Enacting new behaviors within a new structure is what breathes life into an agile adoption. There is a tremendous temptation for both team members and management to return to old patterns of behavior. This is truer during the first Sprint and the transition to the second Sprint than at any other time. Effective coaching of management and team members during this time frame can be the difference in an organization quickly jelling in a positive direction, and an organization reverting to old behaviors.

It is not uncommon for teams to identify a variety of clean-up and design activities which they defer to the first Sprint. The mid-Sprint coaching activities in the first Sprint are often a combination of typical mid-Sprint coaching as well as extended launch-related coaching. There is always a tension during launch activities between setting teams up for success, and not overly delaying the learning which comes from starting the first Sprint.