How Universal Mind has Embraced the Agile Path

Agile

SETTING PRIORITIES AND EXPECTATIONS CAN HELP YOU DELIVER WITH AGILE


I began my career with a Big Six accounting firm, using my CPA certification to help clients implement Oracle Financials. I spent six years in consulting before transitioning to an industry position to manage custom software development projects.

It was in this internal role, over 10 years ago, where I first became exposed to Agile and Scrum. By this time, I was the Director of Business Services.

I can recall a specific incident where the Project Sponsor came to me to complain that the software didn’t do what he wanted it to do. I pulled out the binder (yes, a paper binder!), that had all the system documentation that he himself had signed, and I said to him, ”But this is what you said you wanted when you signed this document.”

“That was eight months ago,” he replied. “And I never read those things anyway.”

AGILE WAS LOGICAL, AND IT JUST MADE SENSE

That’s when I knew our traditional method of project management simply didn’t work.

But Agile held a promise. It was so logical and it just made sense. My passion and advocacy took root with our CIO, and soon I began leading the Agile adoption for my organization.

I eventually left that internal role to become an Agile coach, and helped two organizations with their entire Agile Transformation before landing at my now home, Universal Mind, six years ago.

My first role at Universal Mind was as a Delivery Manager, where I was able to work, day in and day out, with the most talented people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I was able to organize, focus and harness that talent to deliver awesome software for our clients. It was my job to work with the client to get priorities and set expectations and then get out of the team’s way so they could deliver. This was a natural fit for me, as I thrive on cultivating trust from my team and from the client.

Today, I serve as the Director of Agile Services at Universal Mind.  As the leader of this practice, I define our service offerings and work right alongside our clients to assess agility, coach individuals and teams, and most frequently, help our clients realize the benefits of agility at the enterprise level by implementing SAFe®, a scaled agile framework.

Since its very beginning, Universal Mind has embodied the Agile principle of “satisfying the customer through early and continuous delivery of valuable software”.

IT’S ABOUT WORKING TOGETHER AND BEING HONEST

It’s just what we do here. Personally, I identify with its focus on alignment and transparency.

It’s not about ego or drama; it’s about working together and being honest – honest about what you’re capable of delivering and holding yourself accountable to the highest standard possible.  That’s the kind of environment I want to work in.

Universal Mind was a natural fit for me; the organization embraces Agile and lean principles at its core. This wasn’t an organization that was fighting waterfall, or trying to transform itself into something new; it started as an Agile company, it was just part of Universal Mind’s DNA. I knew I wanted to work with people who lived the Agile culture and created amazing software that transformed organizations.

To me, Agile is a mindset; it’s a way of approaching work that enables people to do the best work they can possibly do.  Yes, there are processes and frameworks that can support and promote an Agile way of working and I value those frameworks.  But without the fundamental shift in how you think about the work and even your own value, these frameworks are useless, even harmful, because then you’re masking the truth.  The mindset should be:

  • I’m here to lead, not manage (there’s a very real difference here).
  • My teams want to do great things and my job is to set them up for success then get out of their way.

For some this mind shift is natural and just feels right. For many, though, it’s hard. It flies in the face of how they measure their self-worth; it takes practice and time to think differently about what they’ve always been told.

On the horizon, my mission is for Universal Mind to become the premier source for Agile training and coaching in the Dallas market. We have the talent, we have the experience, and now, with formal investments in our Agile service offerings and our Dallas office, we have the dedication and commitment. There is no shortage of companies in Dallas that need the benefits that a real Agile Transformation could bring them, and to them I say “Let’s do this!”

Interested in attending a Leading SAFe® training course to learn more about how to implement lean-agile principles in your enterprise? I’m hosting one in Dallas this month! Learn more and/or register here.


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