About Rich

After graduating with a degree in Information Technology, I worked for a number of years as a software developer - or was it software engineer? or was it developer/analyst? - well whatever the job title, I worked in teams for some big corporates, and would mainly speak to users - gathering and documenting requirements, creating technical specs and then building software. It was mainly client-server applications in those days using OO 4GL's and backend relational databases.

My first job was great, I came out of university having just learned about Just-In-Time development, Rapid Application Development and Object Orientation Design and Development, into a team that was working in a RAD fashion and using OO development tools.

A few years and a couple of jobs later, a couple of significant things happened. The first was while working as a development team lead on a big marketing tool for a car manufacturer the contract project manager suddenly left and I was asked to step into the role. It was my first foray into project management, and I seemed to have a knack for it.

The second thing that happened was the internet, or more specifically the capability to deliver transactional and operational services over the web.

Since those early years I've taken on a variety of roles in different companies with different types of teams - and not just techy teams. Here's a bit of a taste:

I've worked as a bog-standard, "safe-pair-of-hands" PRINCE 2 Project Manager (got the T-shirt and bear the scars);

I've been dropped into failing-teams to "turn them around and make the project a success" (almost always not the teams fault, and almost always recovered by culling requirements - say no people, you can't have all of those features - we don't have the capacity unless you stump up the cash!);

I've been the operational PM put in place to make sure the tech team weren't misleading the Ops team;

I've been an analyst, taking a deep-dive into understanding the effort really required to build software - analysing the size of some of the UK's biggest government systems (now that was really insightful, but a huge waste of money - you really pay people huge amounts to count lines of code or function points?!);

I've managed projects and programmes using traditional approaches, tools and technologies and now I spend most of my time teaching and coaching people and teams about how having an agile mindset and taking a different approach to working together and problem solving builds better more efficient teams, changes the working culture, delivers on ROI for business and most importantly delivers real value to customers and users.

I remember first hearing about agile in the early 2000's and recall how it all sounded a bit familiar, but a bit fluffy and wooly and I remember not being able to find out much about how to be agile. So, I think initially I just dismissed it.

I'd got to a point where the way of doing things was so engrained, the weight behind certain best practices was so great, that the thought that you could develop software in any other, better way just wasn't even something you'd think much about, and yet I seemed to be dealing with the same types of problems again and again. As a project manager I seemed to spend my time either planning, re-planning, reporting or managing difficult stakeholders - I didn't seem to be adding much value, but that wasn't my job, was it? My job was to manage the team, or manage the work, or manage the teams work - and of course report to stakeholders, oh, and the PMO, and the board (sorry I meant boards).

I think it got to the point where that familiarity feeling I'd had when I'd first heard of agile, became an itch I just had to scratch. I soon realised that the things that the agile manifesto spoke of were all influenced by the kinds of approach I'd learned at university and that I had been working to in my early career - JIT, RAD, DSDM, Lean, and they all pointed towards better ways of working.

Time for change. The course that seemed to be the thing that got you anywhere near being agile was the Certified Scrum Master course. So I paid for it myself, and got myself certified (as a Scrum Master that is).

It was the kickstart of my understanding of what it means to be agile, but it took a good few years for me to really get what it really meant ti be agile, and hey, we're all still learning. I felt strong enough about my belief in agile to become a signatory to the agile manifesto in 2014

That seems like a long time ago now, but I can honestly say I've not come across a situation where an agile mindset couldn't be applied to improve a teams ways of working and deliver better, more valuable products or services to users.

So I've been training, coaching and delivering a whole range of products and services using agile ways of working.