The Beginnings of a Transformation

It’s been four months and counting since I traded in my 13 year gig at Valpak for a new adventure at Catalina.  That and having a toddler has kept me busy every waking minute of the day.

Starting a new job after 13 years committed to Valpak was indeed strange.  I hadn’t had a first day in 13 years!  On the other hand, starting a new job in the same industry made things feel very familiar.  In many ways, it was like I was at the same company but working with new people with similar opportunities to pursue and challenges to overcome.

My start at Catalina was filled with surprises.  Within the first two weeks, I lost both my bosses, my boss and my boss’ boss.  It was a shock to the system, especially for someone that had worked for the same person for 13 years.  After an adjustment period, I quickly came to learn that this was the best thing that could have happened to me and my organization.  I now report direct to the COO (along with my org) as the Executive Director of the Enterprise Agility Office, a chance happening that the COO himself calls “serendipitous”.  I’ve since come to appreciate Catalina’s culture of change and plan to take full advantage of it to guide them through their agile transformation.

As I made my rounds and started to learn the people, the process, the products, and the problems, I heard a lot of … “we have a resource problem” (we all know an agilists pet peeve is calling people “resources”).  I was quick to observe that there was no “resource problem” but rather a prioritization problem.  There were hundreds of demands coming at the development teams and everyone had their #1 that they needed NOW.

With further exploration, I was pleased to see that there was definitely some semblance of agile across the entire Tech organization and even in some areas of the business.  Teams get an “E” for effort for doing and trying some version of Scrum or Kanban, even if most is really just “I use Jira and therefore I’m agile”.  It was evident that a big dose of training was needed along with a healthy serving of coaching and a lifetime of nurturing.

With all that said, you’re probably wondering if I’ve managed to get anything accomplished in these first four months at Catalina.  Indeed I have!

  • I rebranded and reinvented the PMO as the “Enterprise Agility Office”, complete with the Agile Project Leader role I originally conceived at Valpak.  I’m now fully staffed and organized for success!
  • I established an Agile Transformation Roadmap and an accompanying Kanban by which to manage it.
  • We got in place what I consider the first and most important artifact of any agile transformation, the agile org design (aka, “Agile Teams”), which lays out all the Scrum and Kanban teams, their scope, and who’s who.
  • A Common Sprint Schedule was established to put the entire enterprise on the same 2-week cadence, beginning on Mondays and ending on 2nd Fridays.  We are all currently on Sprint 11!  You can definitely expect a big celebration when we get to Sprint 100.
  • Our first wave of agile training including a Scrum 101, Scrum for Product Owners, and Scrum for Scrum Masters was conducted in March.
  • We’ve brought in an enterprise agility tool, Target Process, that is near and dear to my heart having worked with it for several years at Valpak.
  • Using a lot of muscle memory and throwing in a few new tricks (remind me to blog about how we’re doing rank prioritization and relative value), I stood up a proper Agile Portfolio Management process complete with roadmapping, relentless prioritization, and a Portfolio Kanban with weekly standups.
  • We kicked off several tribes to share, learn and grow together for Scrum Masters, Products Owners, Agile Project Managers, and even one for Agile Leadership.

So, what’s next?

  • One of my Enterprise Agility Directors, Robert Shaw, is an experienced Agile Coach so together him and I have divvied up the agile teams to begin some hands on agile coaching.
  • With a Common Sprint Schedule in place the next step is to establish a Common Sprint Review where all teams would come together to demo their sexy stuff and celebrate their accomplishments.
  • We’ve got some heavy lifting to do to get all the teams in two different Jira instances moved over to Target Process before the end of the year.
  • I’ve got high hopes of establishing more physical boards here at the St Pete headquarters beginning with the Portfolio Kanban. Maybe an agile tour will be possible some day.
  • A second wave of agile training is on the way, this time including Kanban, Agile for Leaders, and eventually Agile for All.
  • Last but not least, a passionate focus on growing my team, the Enterprise Agility Office, to be passionate practitioners of agile like myself.

All in all, I’m in a very happy place right now, making new friends, doing what I love, and taking an organization to the next level.  I’ve got good traction on all things agile and this company and my leadership wholeheartedly believes in it.  This is most certainly the beginnings of a transformation.

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About Stephanie Davis

Stephanie is Executive Director - Enterprise Agility Office at Catalina, driving lift and loyalty for the world's leading CPG brands and retailers.  Most recently, Stephanie was Senior Director of Enterprise Agility at Valpak. She was with Valpak for 13 years, most of which were focused on leading their agile transformation to what became a world renowned success story published in case studies and demonstrated to over 50 different companies through the years via agile tours.  Prior to Valpak, Stephanie held past positions in the project management domain with AT&T and IBM. Stephanie's academic credentials include a BS in Marketing from the University of South Florida and an MBA in International Business from the University of Bristol in England. She also maintains the Project Management Professional (PMP), Agile Certified Practitioner (ACP), and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) credentials. Stephanie is big on tech community involvement!  Most recently, she served as an elected board member to the Agile Alliance, a non-profit organization with global membership, committed to advancing agile development values, principles, and practices. In addition, she serves her local community as an organizer for Tampa Bay Agile, the largest and most active tech Meetup in the area, and the annual Agile Open Florida event. In 2016, Stephanie was awarded Tampa Bay Tech’s Technology Leader of the Year and the Tampa Bay Business Journal’s BusinessWoman of the Year (Tech) and Emerging Technology Leader of the Year. View all posts by Stephanie Davis

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