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Blog Networking

A Quick Bio

A few organizations have been asking for a quick bio both for consulting and internal purposes. With that, here is what I came up with after much assistance from a few people:


Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to coach and train organizations around agility & program management. My focus has a tag line I’ve had for years: “Creatively – Executing – Ideas.”

At both Inovalon and 14 West, I was fortunate to participate from the beginning of their enterprise-wide agile transformations. I had the opportunity to implement SAFe and train over 700+ people at Inovalon, implement three release trains, and define the roadmap for execution across the subsidiaries there. Much of my focus was on gaining buy-in from the C-Suite in support of the initiatives.

Following Inovalon, I joined 14 West, where I developed a team of 17+ program managers and agilests. These team members implemented agile practices for the $1.6 billion organization. In each of these roles, I’ve used the creativity and skills in execution to help shape the next iteration for these companies in their pursuit of an agile culture.

Now, from a personal note: I am an outdoors adventure-based person who loves taking my two boys (Brighton, age four and Rhett, two) wherever I can. I enjoy being outdoors as much as possible – hiking and camping on the Appalachian Trail, solo camping trips, climbing mountains, and merely being adventurous while always learning.

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Agile Blog Download

Scrum Health Check

On a regular basis, we’ve been asked to do analysis work of existing scrum teams. Organizations especially care about the pre & post agile implementations data points.

I created a simple two form approach that allows scoring for teams internally to judge their scrum health. One major component to make though:

No one should use this as a way to judge a team’s performance but instead utilize it as a means for an improvement backlog.

Key Point

Now, with all that said, these two litmus surveys I’ve used for 7+ years across multiple industries and believe this should be public for others to use as a starting point. Here are two example images:

Quick Agile Litmus
Detailed Agile Litmus

These questions come from all over and much research. With that, there are some tools I’ve built to allow the inclusion of 30+ development teams and see organizational health. But, to get people started I have allowed these documents to be downloaded.


Categories
Blog Business Ideas

Opening Agile

Over the last two weeks, I have taken up a problem that I believe many of us want to solve: centralized agile playbook & toolbox that includes:

  • Guides
  • Exercises
  • Presentations
  • Templates
  • Plays

A group of us met yesterday and another group of us will meet on Friday to keep the discussion moving forward. In short, if you want to find out more information about this please go to the two following links:

Getting Tactical

We are working through keeping as much of this as “free” as possible while we build out and aim to solve the problem. To do so, we’ve agreed on utilizing:

  • Trello – the backlog of work items the team is developing.
  • Google Drive – a repository of presentations, tools, and such.
  • Google Sites – collaboration area for keeping notes and tracking.
  • Slack – communication and collaboration area.

This is just the start of being effective while remote!

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Blog Business Networking

Recruiting Daily

There are many things that I aim to do on a regular basis: interview & network… Why? Because sometimes people get laid off and I had my first experience in February where I am now on the market.

So, how do I quickly warm up my recruiting leads and network? A few simple tools that I utilize:

  • Capsule CRM
  • Google Sheets
  • Mailchimp
  • GMass Addon

These tools in combination allow me to email out a list of recruiters I have worked with over the last year or few and share “I’m looking” while also allowing me to network a bit. You see, I have always had a rule around interviewing: do it monthly!

The ration that I am at right now for conversations: 15 cold job applications, 4 interviews, and 1 offer! Not a bad funnel at this time but I believe some of the automation does help (and so does keeping your network in a networking mentality).

So why do I call this “Recruiting Daily” – well, we are recruiting assistance through networking aren’t we? We are all in this together! We are all learning from each other and we all know that the job market is a game so let’s play it well!

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Blog Ideas

Time and Thoughts

I don’t often get emails from my father stating that I must check out a video but I did this May, and the video above has made a difference in my life already. I’ve had a firm focus on improving my life by simplification and self-reflection so this hit home. What do you think of it?

PS – I had been using an app called AppDetox and been aiming to simplify/use my time wisely. Here are the links:

By the way, in another video, he shares a quote by Cooley that I will leave you on for some self-awareness… Thomas Cooley “I am not who you think I am; I am not who I think I am; I am who I think you think I am.”

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Blog Research

The Cheese Party

Throughout the last two years at my job, I have had a significant focus on culture. How? By starting with a simple idea and building relationships with folks throughout the organization using an event I coined “Cheese Party.” We merely built ourselves into a group of consistent people who like cheese AND invite others. The goal? To be cheesy and embracing to others around!

John Kotter talks a lot about how transformation takes place, and one of his points is creating a climate for change, and that is our primary goal with these conversations. And you know, it has stuck, and even other folks have started their versions of the cheese party after leaving the company. But why I do share this?

I know this may seem like an odd comment to make but I someone quoted me with saying: “I am still for putting lipstick on a pig since people will at least laugh at it.” If you don’t know what this expression means, Wikipedia states “to put ‘lipstick on a pig’ is a rhetorical expression, used to convey the message that making superficial or cosmetic changes is a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of a product or person.” And I think this is key… Cheese will not solve the problem of changing the culture but we know the urgency, we have a coalition of folks wanting to support, and we all laugh at the lipstick that lives on the pig! Every company has a culture war that will go on, and you must know it is there and simply work towards fixing it with a smile. So, I will keep putting smiley faces up and aiming to be cheesy to not coverup culture but to at least laugh at the issue!

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Blog Research

The Domino Effect has a Start

Organizations often forget that to “Lead Change” within an enterprise and/or even individually, there must be something that starts the process AND this “something” may be a minimally sized domino, but the effects can be astronomical. These changes all start small, but we can’t ignore the adjustments that are small changes because they could lead to significant influences.

I’ve always seen the change conversation start with the idea of a ripple effect yet; personally, I’ve started to like the idea and force which comes from the domino effect. Why? Because the small change moves even large items! In life, in work, in organizations, there is always something that starts the forward momentum.

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Blog Ideas Research

Focusing on Notes at Work

I have been aiming to take better notes for clearer follow through and action after meetings at work. For the past few weeks I have been trying many different techniques and finally found one that works for me. First, it starts with using a notebook: moleskin then finding the right method for you. What techniques are there? Here are two that I checked out:

  • Bullet Journal – http://bulletjournal.com/get-started/
  • Cornell Notes – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornell_Notes

Personally, I am pushing the two together in some ways while making sure I have the “area” set up for optimal use. Michael Hyatt points out that “note taking also captures in-the-moment insights, questions, and commitments.” Not all of these things can be solved immediately, and this is why some hierarchy becomes essential.

PS – here are the other articles I read while defining the process that I aim to use:

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Blog Business Download Ideas

My Analysis Process: APD(P)

I am often asked to analyze businesses, teams, and/or individuals to see how the processes they work in can be improved. Every consultant (internal or external) has their way of doing this type of work, but over the years I have solidified the method that I take, and the results have created strong wins over and over again for the groups that I work with. It is crucial to apply the following method in an agile approach as it iterates on itself as you go through it. Here is the process at a high level that I work through in each scenario that you can start applying immediately:

  1. Analyze – Analyze the situation that is at hand through 1:1 conversations, focus groups, and open retrospectives with the members that are part of the business or team. Finding and defining the problems at hand is crucial in this step.
  2. Prioritize – Work with those involved to prioritize the output from the analyzation so that those folks take the ownership of the findings and what impact needs to be. Looking for quick wins helps define what problems come first.
  3. Do (Produce) – Build an implementation method with SMART action items. When creating this, each item must have systematic owners who are responsible for making sure it moves forward which will help lead the change that came from the initial step.

This method for analysis was built off of my tag in life: creatively, executing, ideas… Everyone has excellent views and practices to do this work, but I have seen many consulting firms build out an excellent analysis of teams and yet forget that there is ownership and producing that must come as well. Analyzing businesses, teams, and individuals must produce results, not just the document stating the facts. The team needs to own this and deliver the wins/execute on the changes that were built out creatively. Be agile in the application of this, see what works and doesn’t. For example…

Sometimes I call it the APD method or APP method depending on the group that I am working on since “doing” may be the output required while other times “producing” may be the critical component. Building out an analysis works on many levels but needs to be continually done and not a one-time act. And in short, it can be applied to you as an individual as well!

Categories
Blog Business Research

Taking a Break – Work/Life

I am someone who loves what they do most days. If you were to ask me how I am, many days I would respond that I am living in paradise! Why? Because I sincerely love what I do and the team that I work with at Inovalon. I understand that this isn’t the case for most, but there is a downfall of doing what you love: work/life balance. Also, when I say work, I don’t just mean the 9-5 you may live in but also the honey-do list and the continual task list that will never be completed. All of these things need to be balanced out, and I’ve seen three significant steps that have helped me and encouraged me to have a better work/life balance:

  • Start Small – Simply start making time outside of a work a priority by taking small moments here/there for yourself that aren’t focused on work or the next to do item. Take a walk and purposefully not think about work!
  • Plan It & Do It – After you start small, start planning the priortized time that you will take and use for the balancing of work/life. More importantly than just expecting it, you must follow through and execute on it and take time for yourself. Take a weekend away with no technology and breath!
  • Separate from It – When you start small, plan your work/life better, and execute, you also need to make sure you separate yourself from the work that you have going on. With a connected world, this is hard, but also with how our brains are wired, we like to solve problems but take a break and separate!

Why is this at the top of my mind? Well, this past weekend I took my wife and kids to a cabin in Maryland only an hour away from home for a reprieve. We spent time outside, we didn’t use technology, we spent quality time together, and it reminded me of the importance of these type of moments for my kids, my wife, and myself. And, when I returned to work, I was rested and ready to tackle what work had coming to me. My mind, spirit, and body were revamped and capable of doing what I do: solving problems.

What steps do you take to help with the work/life balance that we all need?