Neville Poole 00:06
And really when you look through an organizational hierarchy, there's leaders all throughout that organization. So how do you enable them, equip them and empower them to be the best leader? So when we talk about agility, those four things, that's what we mean when we say full circle agility. We want to bring it back to the foundation of what agility was intended to provide to people.
Pete Seeber 00:28
Welcome to the Kingsmen Software Beyond the Build podcast, where we highlight our friends in the software development community. We get to know them, their story, their influence, and their impact at a deeper level. We also have a good bit of fun along the way. I'm your host, Pete Seeber, and among other things, I'm the Chief Strategy Officer here at Kingsmen Software. I'm really excited about today's podcast. I'm joined today by Neville Poole, who is the CEO of Institute Agility here in Charlotte. Institute Agility is an agile coaching shop that does tremendous work with their clients, helping them get over the hump with something that can be quite challenging for an organization that hasn't done it before. She's fantastic at what she does, and I really enjoyed the conversation because she's seen it from all sides. She's obviously doing the coaching now, but she's also been in big time consulting for years, she's worked for the big banks for years, and she's also worked in FinTech startups early in her career before anybody knew what FinTech startups were, so excited to have her join us. We're also joined as a co host by Denise Beachley, who is our CIO here at Kingsmen Software. This is a space that Denise swims in every day, as our CIO, she also is hands on working with the analysts on all of our clients at our teams in the field, she does a great job. And she herself does a fair amount of agile coaching with our clients just to get them through what we're doing. So I expect this will be a great conversation and I'm excited to have it. The benefit of putting these two together is that Neville and Denise have worked together several times in the past in a few different capacities. So for our listeners out there, I think that'll come through, and it'll be a really vibrant conversation. So glad you join us. Please enjoy. Neville and Denise, thanks for coming in today. You're both very busy, and we know that so we really appreciate you carving out some time to spend with us. Hopefully this will be as enjoyable for you as it is for the audience. This is the part where I shut up. I'll hand the microphone to you guys. Neville show off a little bit get on the podcast red carpet and go.
Neville Poole 02:32
Thank you, Pete. Thank you, Denise. Thanks you guys for having me. I'm really excited about this, this is going to be fun. So as Pete said, yes, I'm CEO of Institute Agility based right here in Charlotte right outside Ballantyne, and I am super excited about this role, because, as Pete said, I've been in the consulting space for a long time, I've worked at Accenture and IBM, and I've had some experiences with super small startup consulting companies all the way up to one of those massive, you know, kind of big, big, big consulting. And so what I wanted to do was bring the best of both to something that is feasible and enjoyable for clients and coaches in the agile space to life. And so co founders, Andy Painter and Christy Clement, we got together and started, they started to really think about this idea of bringing all of the best of consulting to kind of a new world, and so that's where Institute Agility was birthed. And so our focus is to really inspire people to work better together, to bring their best work to the world. And we do that through igniting the spirit of agility, so much of agility has gotten complex and complicated. And we want to bring that back full circle to something that is empowering people to be their best, to bring their best, collaboration, thinking about outcomes, not outputs, and really just bringing the the foundation of what the intention of agility was supposed to be back to reality for organizations. So it's fun. We create a culture where it's all about work and life together, and how do we make sure that people are taken care of, and that is exciting.
Pete Seeber 04:13
I love that, you've used the word fun three times, and I think that from the consulting side, because I've been on that side for many years as well, we are in the people business that is the asset that drives the business forward. And if we don't make it fun for our clients, and for ourselves while we're accomplishing those goals, it dies out Why are you there? Then you just turn into churn and you burn and it doesn't work out. So I love the fact that you're talking about fun. Denise, brag a little bit, what you got?
Denise Beachley 04:39
Hi guys, Denise Beachley, really excited to be here as well. As Pete said, I am the CIO here at Kingsmen and Neville and I have crossed paths in several lives as we've gone through our career journey. We worked together, gosh, seven, eight years ago at one of those bigger institutions, bringing the agility practice to a small group within that institution. And I think it's something that a lot of people should continue to learn about. We're happy to make life easier for as many people as we can. And we continue to grow that here at Kingsmen, with what we call the Kingsmen Way, which is my primary responsibility, managing how we deliver what we deliver.
Neville Poole 05:25
Pete Seeber 05:26
I love it. I love it. So let's jump into that a little bit. Let's talk about agile, what's its function? Where did it come from? I want to hear the unique twist from Institute Agility, how you guys go about creating that fun while adding value for your clients at the same time.
Neville Poole 05:40
Absolutely. So you can go all the way back to the Agile Manifesto, and anybody that's living in this space knows, you know, the principles, the practices, many different frameworks out there. But in the, I would say the heart of agility is being flexible. And you know, my husband's a sports guy. He's a retired from the NFL, and agile is a word that is used in sports every day. And it's not complicated, like, you know, if somebody is agile or not, you can look at them. It's all it's just a very realistic adjective that shows up super clear. And so when we think about that, in the business space, we make that a little bit more complicated, when really, we're trying to help organizations become more responsive, and adaptable to changes that happen every day. And now change is so fast that it's even more required for organizations to be agile. So we're talking about how are you, how are organizations looking at the way that they are planning and prioritizing and funding and organizing their teams, and how does executive leadership teams show up as a team? It's all about being able to use those practices and principles of agility to really help deliver the best outcomes to your customer really quickly, and with super high quality, and the foundation of that is making sure that people are happy, and that they can bring their best selves to work. So when we think about agility, there's we call it kind of full circle agility, because of everything that has kind of taken root. Yes, big organizations, they need some process, you do need process, you need something that can help people find where their place is, and what they're bringing to the table when when you talk about this world of software delivery, or even outside of software delivery, just giving, you know, delivering on those outcomes. So we think about it in four parts. One is outcomes and impact over output. So we know that we got to get to those outcomes. And we got to get, we want to have impact versus checking a box that we're doing daily stand ups and retros. All those things are fabulous, and you want to do those things. But you got to be laser focused on outcomes and impact. The second thing is around building trust and respect throughout the organization. There's this thing now where people are more suspicious of each other than trusting of each other. And so that breaks down and it really causes problems inside of an organization. So how do we create the trust throughout, whether it's at the core team of developers that are pairing together and swarming and doing all those things to get that backlog out of the door, and all the way up to the executive team. How are the executive teams working together and understanding their motivations and values, that driving their behaviors that ultimately results in a company culture? The third thing is around sharing great practices. So we know there's amazing frameworks out there, how do you take the best of all of those and make them fit for you, for your organization. And sharing that across the across the organization in the form of community, community is a big, it's a big thing right now, people need to feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. And so when you can create those communities inside of an organization, you really start to have people feeling really inspired and empowered to make decisions. And then the last thing is around going from management to leadership. So we know what management is, we know there are things that have to be managed. But at the same time, people want to be led people want leaders, people want people that they can relate to. And really when you look through an organizational hierarchy, there's leaders all throughout that organization. So how do you enable them, equip them and empower them to be the best leader? So when we talk about agility, those four things, that's what we mean, when we say full circle agility, we want to bring it back to the foundation of what agility was intended to provide to people.
Pete Seeber 09:29
I love that explanation. I love full circle agility the way that you just described it. From our perspective on the Kingsmen side, when I think about agility, and Denise, you might be in the same boat. I think about it in terms of software development, just because that's what we do. And that's where it was born. Right? A manifesto 20 years ago, but the way that you described it, it is it's cultural. It is not just that one, that one silo of the organization for software development. I think that's where it can start. That's where the seed can be planted, that's where it can grow. I look at it from a different perspective of that executive table. And we'll get into it later that it's more than that. And it needs to be broader than that across the organization.
Denise Beachley 10:12
And I think if you don't have some of the buy in that you talked about, you talked about agility going across all levels of an organization, that becomes so key, because the last thing you want is, you know, you've got people who are trying to make a change at a team level, and their leadership hasn't bought in, or you've got leadership that's trying to make a change, and the team hasn't bought in. You're not going to possibly be successful if you're not making the change organizational wide. That's right. That's right.
Pete Seeber 10:44
So this is a unique space and educate me because I'm relatively new to the space, I think I've been around it. But over the last year and a half or so I've taken a deeper dive into this. But here's what I'm what I'm confronted with is that this agile framework, this methodology, this culture, whatever you want to call it, it is not something that is typically taught in university or college, right? There is no four credit course, you don't have an intermediate level, and then an advanced level, when you're a senior and get out, you take all of your core subject matter. And then this is something that you pick up in the workplace. That is certification driven, it is manifesto driven. It is trial and error driven. It's fail fast driven, it's having the right mentor. And I think that's extremely challenging. How do you put this into your professional corporate environment, when you're not hiring people out of campus who have this core tangible skill?
Neville Poole 11:43
What I do understand is that there are classes right now that are really teaching kind of agile principles, agile practices, what does it mean? So you're gonna go out into the workplace, you're gonna hear this word agile, here's what you need to know, right? Agile, the the ability to leverage agility to get to the outcome that it was intended is a mindset shift. And that mindset shift is not something that can be taught in a book, it's not something that if you understand, SAFe, for, you know, DAD, or if you understand these frameworks, less, they're going to help you understand these are the things that need to be different. Like, you're not going to write 200 page business requirement documents like I did, you're gonna write stories, you're gonna create them in small batches, so that things can be tested quickly, right? They're gonna learn that stuff. It's the mindset, like the light bulb moment, I remember when I had my light bulb moment about agility back in probably 2010, maybe 2009. And you never forget that. And so when we have students that are coming out of college, and they have, in my opinion, have more of an agile mindset than we had coming out, we had more of a fixed mindset, you do this, you do that you don't really sway. You know, that's kind of the way I was brought up. Now, students, I think, have more they've gone through a lot of different things that we didn't have to go through when we were coming up, especially with social media and things like that, where they have to be more flexible. And so I think they're just made that way. So we have to take that information that they're learning in school, and pair them in the career world with an experienced person to help them start to understand. Oh, okay, this is how this actually comes to fruition. And you all have more like practitioners in your space, I would love to hear kind of what your thoughts are on that, Denise.
Denise Beachley 13:36
Yeah. And I think it ties in very nicely to what we do with an apprentice program that we have, because it's not something that you have an opportunity to learn while you're in school. And it's not something that can come what you said Neville from a textbook, you have to learn it by doing. So we have an apprentice program where we will take you know, someone who is looking either to make a career shift or just out of school, and bring them in through a six month program, or we're working with them directly with a mentor, someone who is a senior engineer or a senior analyst and teach them the way that we want them to deliver. You know, everybody uses the term agile and says, we're agile, we're agile, but that means so many different things to so many different people. I can ask 10 people what agile means and probably get eleven different answers.
Neville Poole 14:22
Right? And I'm actually glad that you brought up not just people coming from college, but second careers, third careers, doing something different. It's the same thing if there's an opportunity to really start to uncover new ways of working and exploring a new mindset. So yeah, you're exactly right.
Denise Beachley 14:39
And it is truly a mindset shift to really understand how to deliver in an agile way because you know, you were saying how we were brought up it was very different when I started working, versus what we're doing now.
Pete Seeber 14:51
You know, when you went to work for one of the big consulting houses like I did coming out of college, you got hired, you put on your new blue or your gray suit. And they sent you off to some national training program. And you learned how to do things their way. And it was very recipe driven, very list driven, there was not a whole lot of room for independent thought. And there was certainly not room for failure, to learn things along the way. And what we're talking about now is, is holding hands with clients and failing together to understand the requirements of what needs to be built and what works and what doesn't work. It's a completely different mindset.
Neville Poole 15:28
Denise Beachley 15:29
And that's actually one of the interesting things that we find too is, when we'll bring somebody new in, we have to tell them, It's okay to fail. We want you to, you know, if you're not successful, we want you to tell us where you're having an issue of so we can correct it. So we can help you with whatever you might be struggling with. We want them to have those struggles, so we can show them what's right. If we never know about it. We can't do anything about it.
Neville Poole 15:59
Yeah, and one other thing, too, about the trust piece is, you know, clients had a different expectation of consultants 10 years ago. You came in, you're the expert, you tell us what to do, we're gonna do it, maybe not even question it. And just do it. It's different now. It's more of a consultant coaching relationship. And it's a trusted adviser to right, I want you to trust me, I want to trust you, that we're in it for the same reasons. I'm a consultant, yes. But I'm absorbing your problem statement, like your problem statement is now my problem statement. And we're going to figure this out together, I'm going to bring expertise from my experiences, and you're going to bring the culture and the understanding of the company. And together, we're going to figure out how to solve this problem.
Pete Seeber 16:45
So let's sit on that, and I want to draw a distinction between what we do in the agile world of building software and what you do, you're primarily a coach, right? So you're working a lot with organizations that want to get there, but aren't sure how to get there, maybe they have five teams and four of them are doing you know what they've normally done for the last 10 years, we're going to try it on for size, and maybe use one team in agile and see how it works. Talk to us about what that looks like when you enter an environment where you really have to pull that Jedi mind trick on them to get them to understand that the darkness is okay. For a period of time to get to the other side.
Neville Poole 17:24
Yes. So most companies at this point have experimented at least a little bit with agile. So they have either, you know, they've already got some agile teams, or they're on their third agile transformation. Seriously, I've seen organizations that have sunk a lot of money into agile transformation. And so I'm gonna go that route, because that's the norm, like we've been doing agile, and we're just not getting the outcomes that we expected. And so the first thing is to understand what actually are you doing? Are you just doing the things and checking the boxes, or has leadership kind of embraced this agile mindset so that we're now looking at eliminating a lot of waste in our overall processes, not just saying agile is in, we're just going to do that in IT with these four teams, we're going to be 80% agile by 2025. That's the mindset that creates the we're not getting the outcome. So it's really starting to uncover what are your pain points? What are the things that you're struggling with? How would you describe, you know, how things get from idea to the customer? And how does that feedback get back to the idea people back to the customer, it's that loop. And so really starting to show what that loop looks like starts to uncover the fact that agile was probably just done in kind of a little, a little vacuum over here for a couple of teams. And so that is where I really like to go in and really start to understand what's happening. And that starts to uncover all kinds of things, culture, also process but then technology and learning, upskilling people, are they ready to be able to work in this way? Do they have the tools? Have you equipped them to be able to do these things? And so that's where we really would want to start to uncover like, okay, now where do we start because agile as a like holistic agile, big agile, there's a lot of areas you could be focused on, because if you think about IT as the grassroots area where you want to really start to create this well oiled machine, I call it you want to create the Lamborghini of IT, right that they can crank out super high quality value to the customers. But if you're putting unleaded fuel in it, then, you're driving a Lamborghini on regular fuel, like you're not getting the benefit of it. So that's where all these pieces start to have to come together. And that's where kind of our focus as coaches we come in and like understand how all those pieces work together. And it's great to have partners like Kingsmen who can go in and that's where the Lamborghini is built right there. So that's, that's kind of where our focus is.
Pete Seeber 19:57
So with all that being said, once you someone brings you into the organization and you go through an onboarding period and you have a kickoff and you get through those first five days and everything's flowers and rainbows. Do they understand what they're really getting into on the longer path? Because everything you just mentioned is outside of the typical viewpoint of a Statement of Work (SOW), the value that you bring to the table. I mean, at some level I think you need to bring a couch with you to work, have an executive lay down on the couch and talk to you about their problems.
Neville Poole 20:27
Yes, it's happened. And one thing that we like to do is we want to show, you know, kinda almost show like a roadmap. This is what's possible, let's create a North Star, you have a North Star for your organization, what's your North Star for agility? What do you really want to get to? Every company's goal, from an agile standpoint is different. Some people want to get all the way to the Facebooks and the Googles of the world. And some companies don't want to go that far, they really want certain types of things to be true in their organization. So let's decide on what that is first, then we can say, alright, what do we have the appetite for change to inform change right now? And then let's carve off that piece for the first statement of work. And let's iterate on that and let's use our agile principles and practices to get fast feedback. Are we moving in the right direction? How are people feeling? How is this being impacted? Is it working? Is it not? Like using that all throughout the engagement, so that all the work is visible, we are transparent about how things are working, how things are happening, if we're failing, like, where do we need to pivot? And it's not like get to six months and like, well, we're done. And they're like, well... Yeah, that's like a nightmare for me, I would never let that happen. So it's an iterative, fast feedback engagement from the beginning, where you have this future state view, but you're taking very vertical slices, of that body of work at a time. And I think part of that has to lead to how do you continue this on a go forward basis once you're done if they've met what they identified as their North Star, how do they keep that going, so when you finish up the engagement, they know that they're going to be consistent and be successful. In whatever it is that they've decided they want to do. Yes, that is key, enabling the client to own the transformation. That is the goal for, that's my goal, my best day is my first day, and my second best day is my last day, because at that point, you have the tools that you need to enable yourself to be successful. And that's where I go back to creating that sense of community. Community is a big deal. If you can create a community of change leaders inside your organization that believe in it, because it's going to get hard. And it's not going to be easy. And if you have that community of change leaders from all different areas of the organization, IT, HR, marketing, finance, that believe in it, then they become the catalyst to make sure that that can continue to go. So our goal is to lay the foundation, show you how you enable and scale agility across the organization. So that you can take that and own that going forward.
Pete Seeber 23:03
I would imagine you must have some sort of a booster shot program. You do think for six to nine months, and then you know, your children graduate, and you're all proud of them. But every once in a while, you gotta go back. Right? And visit the house rules again.
Neville Poole 23:16
I have always left every door open for my clients to call me to figure out like, what's happening. And so what we like to do is, we are totally driven on NPS. Because if you will not refer your friends to me, then I'm not doing something right. So we NPS it all the way through. So when we get to the end, it's more of okay, here's where you are, here's where we believe you can go and hear the people that have been enabled in your organization to do that. Give it a quarter. And then I want to talk, I want to have another meeting, I want to have another conversation with you to see how was it going? It was a quarter without us. There's no obligation, let's just make sure you're still headed in the right direction. And that is important to me just as a human to not like just, see you later, like throw them over the fence. But that quarterly check in will help either figure out that they're on the right track, or maybe they do need more help and we can always come back and help them.
Pete Seeber 24:11
That's amazing. Everything you've said. You must walk into a lot of organizations where you spend six hours talking to people and then by the end of the day, you're like, oh, I've seen the future. I know where this can go or I know where this can't go.
Neville Poole 24:27
I'm gonna tell you what, Pete, that's the hardest part for me because I see it in like a really quick period of time, but I can't. It's like your kids, you can't, I can tell you that if you keep you know, not cleaning your room or eating in your room, you're gonna have some problems in this room. But it's some stuff you just can't like, you just can't lay it out there. People have to experience it, they have to feel it, which is the most powerful way for them to embrace and own that change. But yeah, I can see it. I'm like, Okay, I'm so excited. Like I can see all these things for you. And then we have to kind of pace our way through through that.
Pete Seeber 24:56
In today's world where technology enables organizations to move so much more quickly from a competitive landscape perspective to get where they want to be maybe leapfrog their competition grow market share, technology can do that. But if you're organizationally not aligned to do that, then the technology itself will not get you there. And I would imagine that's the biggest challenge that you see.
Denise Beachley 25:22
Yeah, I think what you're talking about is really both sides of the equation, the business and the technology and making sure that we're transforming them both at the same time. You can't do one without the other and be successful if one transforms and the other doesn't. I think Neville, you are using the sports car analogy, and we can get our technology team delivering, did you say a Lamborghini? We can get the technology team delivering as a Lamborghini. But if we don't have somebody feeding that or putting the fuel into the car, from the business perspective, they're not going to be able to run. We've got to get the business on the same page, making sure that they're running agile as well. And constantly delivering the requirements, the product specs, anything that the technology team needs to keep them going as optimally as we can.
Neville Poole 26:11
Yeah, and I will say one of the best experiences I've ever had was when I was first introduced to agile, and I was working up in Mooresville, Lowe's corporate office, and they were transforming into agile, so they were moving big system on to another, like, another system, and they said, we're gonna do this agile, and I'm like, what is that? I was a PM and a BA and I knew what I needed to do. I prided myself on writing, like literally 325, page BRDs, business requirements, documents. I was just proud of that. But anyway, so we got through that process and we started to learn the foundations of agility. A company Dataspace came in and trained us all. And I ended up going to work for Dataspace, it was my first agile consulting job. But that team of people, we all went through this learning curve together. And that was the best team I have ever worked for, that group, I would have done anything for those people. I was a Scrum Master. And just the way you bring business and technology thinkers together, the way agile facilitates that, if you do it the right way with the right intention. It's super powerful. And I just it's so when you think about the technology aspect, and I learned more about technology in that team from the developers and testers that were on that team, because we figured we all win together. Like we got to get this together, having 15 defects at the end of the sprint is not winning together. So it doesn't matter who's coding it or testing it, we're all in this together. And that to me was one of the best experiences that I've ever had.
Pete Seeber 27:50
If you can have that type of success, you're talking about, you know, you're at a large scale, sophisticated enterprise organization with lots of silos, lots of layers, lots of bureaucracy, to have that type of success, I would have thought that you were going to say that you had that level of success at some middle market organization that was growing, where you could easily get your hands around things and executive leadership, but to have had that type of success at an organization the size of Lowes. That's impressive.
Neville Poole 28:20
Yeah, I mean, the spirit of agility, if you can bring that and hone in on that, it makes big things feel very small, and intimate and doable. And that's the whole goal. Like if you can break the work down, break the teams down, help people develop new skills as a team member, you know, those are the things that are really the power behind agility.
Denise Beachley 28:43
And it's interesting that you use that example, because in a very similar example, we made a transition at a very large bank down the street, which is actually where Neville and I met. And went through that same process together. One of the people who was working with us is Bill Clerici, who happens to be our CEO. And the reason that I'm at Kingsmen so you know, if we hadn't gone through so much of that transformation together, and dragging each other, sometimes kicking and screaming, through what we had to go through. We still to this day, remain good friends and trust in each other in our day to day work lives.
Pete Seeber 29:23
Yeah, and that's the thing, it's like, it's not a magic pill, there's nothing that makes it quick and easy. And if you can commit, if leaders can commit that this change is important. Then we're going to go through the pain of it. And so you think about organizations that have been working in a certain way for 40 years, and then you want a transformation to take six months? I'm so confused, because at that point I'm like, I'm probably not the right partner for you because I do not have a cape on my back. I can't, that is impossible. 40 years of doing something a certain way and then just because you have kind of this framework of this is what agile means you think you can implement that and then you're done. It just doesn't work that way. Yeah, I look at it from a top down approach, right? You're, if you go to the not I segment leadership into a lot of different levels, but let's look at it from the executive leadership perspective, right? The head people in the organization in different silos, CEO, CFO, COO, or whatever it is, those individuals typically come from the standard backgrounds that we're all used to, and what we expect out of them, right? They have maybe a legal background or a finance background, or they had those magic three letters after their name, MBA, and they've worked in big consulting houses, or they've been, maybe they've grown up on the sales side of the organization. And they're really good at just bringing revenue in the front. I don't see many of these leaders who have a really deep background in what we're talking about today, in terms of agile transformation. What I think that they hear when they hear agile transformation is that they hear it will get me there, and it will get me there quicker. Getting there quicker translates to getting me there less expensively. But it's really hard to put that in place when you don't intuitively understand what you're getting into which is why I think you see so many of these agile transformations fail, right? Where they have to go at it two and three times before they really get on board with what this means. And I think that's, to take it to another level. As we matriculate those people into the executive leadership positions over the next 20 years, how quickly is business going to change and morph at that point where we are culturally aligned in the organization at a very high level?
Denise Beachley 31:37
I think something you said there is very interesting because you said it'll get me there quicker. It'll get the software delivery ultimately quicker once you've made the transformation. It's the transformation that isn't always quick. Making the transformation isn't going to be a four or five month process. Making the transformation can take years, because it truly is a mindset shift. See, I couldn't say it that time either. That takes a while. Once you get there, then yes, your delivery, your software delivery is going to be much quicker than what it was before. You have to make the investment to make the transformation.
Pete Seeber 32:25
And that's where I think, and I did that on purpose. Because I think from an executive leadership position, when you make the edict that we are doing this and we're moving in this direction, you expect it to happen quickly. This is where we're going, this is what we're going to be doing, not recognizing that it takes time to turn that ship, and to get where you want to be. And when it takes longer, by definition on the finance side it takes more money and more resources. And as an executive leader, I live in a 90 day world where we have to release earnings and I don't have tolerance for this. So now we're gonna shut it down and we're just gonna go back to what we used to do. Maybe it took longer, but it was predictable and that was a safe place for me.
Neville Poole 33:09
Well, and one thing too, along those lines is because leaders at the executive level, I would say there's been a lot more executive leaders that I've worked with at this point that have experienced some type of agility and, you know, former companies or, but when the key is making sure that leadership team is aligned on the why and how they can help enable it and not saying we're going to do agile now go IT go do it. Like that's typically what happens. So how do you how does the executive leadership team start to embrace and make visible that their behaviors are changing? And once they show transparency across silos, and they show collaboration across silos, then it enables the rest of the organization to do it. But if you don't, if they don't do that, and they don't show visibly that they are all into this, and they say no, you guys go do it, but still give me my 4 Blocker report every day and like then, then what are you what are you actually doing? So those, I get really excited about having executive level work workshops, you know, a couple of hours, let's talk about what agile isn't isn't for you. For you agile is not writing stories and getting story points on them, for you it's understanding that the teams are going to be working in a different way. But how are you going to show up to help enable them and be a voice and a supporter when things aren't going quite right to show let's be vulnerable about what, we just tried that and that part didn't work. So we're going to pivot we're going to do something like this this time with the team. So that executive team is super important for an executive for a full organizational transformation, no matter how big or small the organization is.
Denise Beachley 34:52
And I think it's important to help them understand how long it's going to take and that they need to enable their people they They cannot do the micromanage thing. They've got to enable their people to talk about what's going well, what's not going well, you know. Allow them to make the adjustments that they need to make to be successful. And they don't require executive leadership to be in on those decisions, the team can make those decisions themselves.
Neville Poole 35:20
Trust back to trust, decentralizing decision making.
Pete Seeber 35:24
So there's kind of a handoff here, right in what you do and is to agility and what we do and Denise leads here at Kingsmen Software. Talk to me a little bit about that, where you're coaching, I don't want to say ends because I don't think that it really ends. But maybe it tails off a little bit only to boomerang back, talk about that handoff to what you do to where a team like Kingsmen gets plugged in to actually do or maybe supplement, right, another work stream or another product that has to be done.
Neville Poole 35:53
Yeah, I'm gonna kind of summarize it like this. A lot of the organizations that we coach want to be like Kingsmen works. So they don't have the knowledge, the skill set, they don't have the ability to pivot and, and swarm and get those things done. So what we do is we try to help organizations with their kind of look at their overall process and their overall operating model to figure out how can they transform? Now usually you're changing the tires on the bus while the bus is moving. There's still stuff they gotta get done. They partner with Kingsmen to help continue to either innovative things or other books that worked, Denise can speak to all the backlog type of work that makes sense. But we're trying to help them be like quick and nimble and quality like Kingsmen. And that's the that's the difference. We don't kind of go into any of the you know, we're not showing technical practices or coaching technical practices or anything like that. It's more of the processing. So Beach, how would you kind of describe the the partnership or the handoff there?
Denise Beachley 36:57
Yeah. So while Neville and her team is going in and showing them how to be and operate more agile, we would be a partner who is keeping the bus moving. While she's changing those tires. We've got a lot of automotive analogy here. Exactly. So we would go in with our discovery process, and you know, what is some of the things that they need to keep doing as they're becoming agile and run those, help deliver those, while they're trying to transform their teams. And then anything that we do from a discovery from a delivery perspective, we're showing them how to do it at the same time and working hand in hand with Neville to make sure that the processes align. And not only can they work with us in the same way that we're working, but that dovetails with what Neville and her team is showing them how to do.
Neville Poole 37:50
Right. It's a little bit a show and tell.
Pete Seeber 37:53
Right? It's, uh, you know, peanut butter and jelly. So to say. Go together and stay together. And I love when you get to the end of the process, and you've been successful at what you do and coaching and Denise and what you do on the build side of our organization, it's really fun to step back and do project number two, and number three for that client. Because now they get it, a light bulb has gone on and now you know, gone on above their head. And now they can see their own future. And they can estimate how quickly they can get there because of the changes that they made in the investment that they put in. And to me that this overused phrase of IT transformation, or digital transformation or business transformation, that's where you get, and now you recognize how fast not only technology can get you there, but your entire organization can move to that place because of what you've done institutionally. I think those are the organizations that are really going to accelerate over the next number of years going forward. And I think that's what we've seen in this space. If we were to take a step back, and I always talk about how this payments industry came out of nowhere, and stole the business from the banks, and then created something that we thought was neat at the beginning, but then it's just accelerated and continued to take off and you see it in so many other spaces. Right. And, and I think it does go back to the idea of, you know, people talk about being disruptive, but you cannot be disruptive if you don't have the ability in an agile mindset to move things forward quickly and culturally. That's just my own blather, and what I see in the marketplace, but I think that Neville what you can see, you can walk into an organization and tell pretty quickly, this is broken. It's just a bad process, maybe a bad culture that needs to change over some period of time.
Denise Beachley 39:40
I think one of the other things that we see too is after we've been in an organization for a while, if you've got teams that are operating in an agile way and efficiently in an agile way, the teams that aren't generally want to be either operating that way or on and with the team that is.
Neville Poole 40:00
Pete Seeber 40:03
So oftentimes in the marketplace, Denise, and I know you see this a fair amount, right? We have clients that we bring on board, or we're about ready to bring on board that are all excited for the process. And then, you know, we get involved with them, but we recognize pretty quickly, they cannot absorb the velocity at which we move because we do this stuff all the time. Right. Talk a little bit about that. And what you see.
Denise Beachley 40:26
Yeah, we often see clients that they will tell us, we're ready for agile, we're ready to do you know, we're ready to take on three teams, four teams, let's get going. Let's start coding tomorrow. And really what they need is more of the services that Neville and her team can provide. They really need someone who can take them through that transformation, which we're not as prepared to do. And so we'll introduce them to Neville and her team. And Neville, do you want to let us know where you take it from there?
Neville Poole 40:52
Yeah, so the great part about the relationship that Institute Agility and Kingsmen have is just a lot of trust, that's there, trust in just personal trust, but we've worked together, we've done this work together before. So you know, when we take those organizations, and we really think about, okay, what are you really trying to achieve here? Where do you want to go, then we start to coach them in those areas. And that way, when they're at that point where they start to create some predictability, and they understand, you know, the fundamentals, and they're working together as a team, then we have those conversations back with Kingsmen to say, okay, this group feels like they're kind of ready and equipped to handle increased velocity and moving at a faster pace. And then we can kind of, you know, we share that client back and forth and figure out the best outcome for the client.
Denise Beachley 41:40
And that's where the bus comes in again, as we can, while Neville and her team are working with them, we can keep that backlog moving on our side through any products that they may want to build while they're going through the transformation.
Pete Seeber 41:53
Yeah. And we try to be and are transparent with our clients in terms of what's going on. And the last thing we want to do is lead them down a road, where you invest time and resources into something that you know, is not going to end up with the best result. Right, because they're not ready to absorb it. And that's going to be a bad experience for our client, it's going to be a bad experience for Kingsmen as a business. And equally as important is gonna be a bad experience for the people at Kingsmen that we assigned to that particular work. Because it's just not fun.
Neville Poole 42:24
Yeah. And the best thing about it is, the client knows that it's two different companies that are partnered together to help them get to their best outcome. And so there's no there's, everything is transparent. Everything is on the table and it just makes for a really cool experience for clients to get the best of both worlds.
Denise Beachley 42:43
And I think it helps us establish that trust upfront, because when we're honest with them and say, you know, we as Kingsmen can't handle it, but let us introduce you to someone who can. They trust in us that much more.
Pete Seeber 42:55
At the beginning of the conversation, you started talking about full circle agile, right? And having four pillars, and the second one being building trust and respect. Yes. Right. And that's what we're talking about here is building trust and respect with the client relationship. And sometimes it's a three legged stool to get them where they want to be. And it's a very valuable part of the relationship, we love what we do out there.
Neville Poole 42:55
Yeah, I mean, we get into conversations with agile teams, and we start talking about their asking questions about their tech stack, and they're like, hold on, let me call Denise, I have a partner that can help you with that. So that's it just makes everything so much easier when you're honest and open about your capabilities. It makes everything so much better.
Pete Seeber 43:36
Let's bring it home. We've talked about a lot of fantastic things. You're making a tremendous impact out there for organizations and we love the relationship. Let's pay it forward a little bit. You've been in this space for 20 plus years. I'll just leave it at that I've been in thank you in the space of 20 plus years, Denise yourself 20 plus years. What advice would you give to somebody paid forward a little bit, right? That new hire coming into the space new to technology and agile? What's your piece of advice to them?
Neville Poole 44:05
Come in with a learning mindset, just a growth mindset, something that is not, don't be fixated on anything, be fixated on learning. And one thing that I learned from Julie Sweet, she's the CEO at Accenture. She used to publish her learning plan to the organization every quarter, she would tell us these are the books that I'm going to me reading this quarter. And this is why it's important to me, and that gave permission for everyone else to take the time that they need it to learn. Because if you're not learning, I can't help my clients if I'm not ahead, if I'm not five steps ahead of them in learning what's happening and learning where their industry is going and learning where people are expecting a different experience like they are today. They are expecting a different working experience. And if I can't help my clients with that, then they don't need me. So I always tell people and I was just having a conversation with a young lady that is she's on her first job, and she learned a little bit about SAFe. And she just wants to put SAFe everywhere. And I'm like, okay, that's cool, but I need you to be open and learning and set aside time every week to learn something about something that you don't know right now, about where the company that you work for is going. So keeping that learning kind of mindset. And being open to talking to new people and figuring out, you know, how they how people are solving problems in different ways, to me is the best thing a young professional, or even someone on their second or third career can do
Pete Seeber 45:36
Easier said than done. Because when you're young in your career, especially when you're on the consulting side, you have the you know, the chargeability metric. I need to be chargeable 95% of the time. So how do I work in the time for that? And my answer to that is that, as a leader, stop mandating the 95% chargeable, and give your people time to breathe and learn your assets are your people, and if you don't invest in them to make them better give them the opportunity to increase their mindshare, they are going to get stale. And you're going to wear them out at the same time. Great advice.
Denise Beachley 46:10
And we built that into our process.
Pete Seeber 46:12
Talk about that.
Denise Beachley 46:15
We actually have, we call it a hone your craft period. And we've built it into the contracts that we went out to with our clients. once a quarter we have a week where they're not responsible for delivering any points. They have that week set aside so they can take training, learn anything, basically, that they need to and hone their craft.
Neville Poole 46:34
Denise Beachley 46:36
Take it, it's yours.
Pete Seeber 46:38
And then you supply a lot of the access for them to hone their craft, right, the training materials. And if they want to go off script, they have the ability to do that as well in their particular needs. I love it.
Neville Poole 46:52
Yeah, one of the things when we onboard a new team member, because we're virtual, you know, everybody, all our team members are in different places, we send them a little care box with stuff for their kids if they have little kids like puzzles and coloring books and stuff. But everybody reads two books one, The Four Agreements, and two Radical Candor, because at this point, we can't afford to not mean what we say and say what we mean, like, it's that important that my our team can come and have a conversation with me or anybody else about anything, if I said something, and they're like Neville that didn't, you know, kind of, let's have that conversation. So The Four Agreements, wonderful book for anybody. And Radical Candor, is also just a great way to be rooted in feedback and being able to be honest in the kind of workplace.
Pete Seeber 47:43
Fantastic. I love it. I love it. I also love the comment you made earlier about your husband, who is an athlete and comparing that space, about being an agile athlete on the field of play every day, and being able to react to what's happening in front of you in an efficient manner, to take that mindset and bring it into business. So you're seeing it from both sides. Which I think it's great, you bring a really unique perspective. Denise, what you got?
Denise Beachley 48:10
I have the unique privilege of working with a whole lot of really smart people. And my advice to somebody just coming up is take advantage of those around you and the knowledge that they have. Don't be afraid to not know the answer. And ask anybody around you. Because I have often walked into meetings, sessions, workshops, whatever. And I love the fact that I can ask anybody around me for help with something if I don't know it, and it doesn't matter who it is. That's how I learn is by asking folks for help. And I highly recommend anybody that you know, if you're just coming up, just asked for help be open to other people's advice.
Pete Seeber 48:58
And I will add to that, even if you're not just coming up, ask for the input. I tell people all the time. It's that intersection of arrogance and ignorance, where a lot of bad accidents happen. Right? If you're going to be ignorant and arrogant at both at the same time, you're headed to a bad a bad place. One of my favorite scenes, I was talking about this with somebody the other day was Tom Hanks in the movie Big. Right? When he's sitting around the boardroom table, and he's really, he's a child inside, right? But he's a full grown adults sitting around the executive table and they're about to launch a new toy or a new product or something. And everybody's just shaking their head up and down, saying I love it. It's gonna be great. It's amazing. Yes, let's do that. And he raises his hand and he says, I don't get it. And they're, what do you mean I don't get it. Are you stupid? You're not following along here. The most important person said something that we're all just going to say is smart, even though we don't believe in what it is. And then he turned the whole thing around, right and it was just kind of enlightening. They give you you know, everybody be at the table who is allowed to have input, everybody should have input or there's no need for you to be at the table. So acknowledge what you don't know and ask the important questions, be humble, be vulnerable and you're gonna find the best answer. So I love that.
Denise Beachley 50:12
That's how I still learn today.
Pete Seeber 50:14
Neville Poole 50:15
Likewise, every day I'm asking.
Pete Seeber 50:19
I don't get it. Now we're gonna enter the self serving portion of the program.
Neville Poole 50:25
Pete Seeber 50:26
Where I'm going to put you on the spot and I want to hear what is your, we are, I'm just going to say it, we're post pandemic now, we are out, people are on the street. We're out there in the environment doing things. What's your favorite restaurant in Charlotte? What's your favorite joint to hang out? What's your favorite meal? Why? I'm trying to expand my mind to some new places. I'm sick of eating in my kitchen every day.
Neville Poole 50:48
Alright. Okay, I'm a total foodie. I love seafood. I love oysters. So the Waterman's Fish Bar on South Boulevard. My absolute favorite. Their chargrilled oysters are unbelievable. They have a rooftop, you can sit outside see the city of Charlotte it's just, it's beautiful. But so my husband like I said he played in the NFL played in New Orleans. That's where I was introduced to New Orleans style Cajun food. There's a young lady Martine she has a place as just delivery and takeout is called Bite Your Tongue. Ya'll beignets, crawfish, etouffee. If you want New Orlean style food, you got to look her up on Instagram. Bite Your Tongue. It's unbelievable. It's so good. That's the name of it. Bite Your Tongue. I'm gonna find it. Next client launch. That's where I'm going. Denise what you got?
Pete Seeber 51:29
So Neville is gonna feed you, I'm gonna let you drink.
Neville Poole 51:43
Awesome. That's how we were. That's how we roll. That's right. Percent Tap House in Harrisburg, North Carolina just off of Route 49. They probably have 30 taps. Just about any type of beer you like they change them on a regular basis. Go Thursday evening or Sunday afternoon and my husband and I are likely to be there. I'll buy you a beer.
Pete Seeber 52:06
Alright Percent Tap House. I'm gonna go old school. And I do need to get to this place. I haven't been there in a number of years. But this is when I first landed in Charlotte in like 1994/95 This was the spot where everybody went for lunch down on Monford Street, Roasting Company. Old School Roasting Company.
Neville Poole 52:28
Off Park Road?
Pete Seeber 52:28
Yeah, they've got that Tico sauce. I don't even know what it i, and I go in there and I put it on my chicken. It's fantastic. They've got some potato salad deal. Like I might go there tomorrow. I think that's what I'm gonna do.
Denise Beachley 52:40
I'm going for the Cajun because I haven't had good Cajun food in ages.
Pete Seeber 52:45
Neville Poole 52:45
Gotta try it.
Pete Seeber 52:46
Awesome. Awesome. Neville, thanks for your time today, Denise, appreciate it. Fantastic.
Neville Poole 52:51
Thank you so much.
Denise Beachley 52:52
This was fun.
Pete Seeber 52:53
Audience we hope you enjoyed it. We're Kingsmen Software, go build something great.