Bill Raymond | Live Episode: What Is Agile? And How Can My Business Use It?
Bill Raymond

Bill Raymond is the Founder of Cambermast, a boutique consulting firm focused on helping organizations run their most complex technical programs. Bill is an expert in Agile, a philosophy that has been taking the world by storm for the past 15 to 20 years. Agile is not just limited to the use of technology companies because it has now become the newest and most efficient way of getting work done no matter what industry you’re in.

Bill is also an author and he hosts the T-Suite, a podcast that features leaders in the tech industry who share their insights about the past, present, and future of information technology.

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Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:

  • The history of Agile and how a group of software developers came up with the idea
  • How Agile philosophies disrupted the technology space
  • The four guiding principles of Agile
  • The different types of companies that have adopted Agile techniques
  • Things to consider before adopting and implementing Agile in your company
  • How Agile can impact real estate and media companies
  • Tips on how to put together and manage a large team efficiently
  • How Agile compares to Traction by Gino Wickman in managing teams

Resources Mentioned:

Sponsor: Rise25

Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing. 

Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally. 

If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing

A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network. 

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Check out Rise25 to learn more about our done-for-you lead generation and done-for-you podcast services. 

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Episode Transcript

John Corcoran 00:40

All right. Hey, welcome everyone. JOHN Corcoran here. And I’m the host of the smart business revolution podcast where I talk with CEOs, founders and entrepreneurs and companies and organizations like YPO, eo activation, Blizzard, lending tree, Open Table x software, and many more. I’m also the co-founder of rice 25, where we help connect b2b business owners to their ideas. prospects and we’re recording this live today I’m gonna be interviewing bill Raman bill is an expert in Agile if you’ve heard that term before, or if you’ve heard the term Scrum or new manufacturing, or lean methodology or any of those related philosophies. Agile is a philosophy that has been taking the world by storm in the last 15 to 20 years or so. And it’s not just for tech companies, but is a new approach a new way of getting work done more efficiently. And it has applications in any kind of business. So Bill is really one of the foremost experts in that area. And I wanted to take some time to ask him about how that can work for different companies out there as well.

So in this episode, titling it what is agile and how do we get here we’re gonna talk a little bit about the history of agile, and also we’re going to talk about what types of questions you need to ask if your company is thinking about whether you should adopt it. But first, before we get into this interview. This episode is brought to you by rise25 media which I co-founded, with a business partner, Dr. Jeremy Weiss. And our mission is to connect you to your best referral partners and customers. And we do that through a done for you podcast solution and content marketing. I believe if you have a business, you should have a podcast period. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. Hands down since I found in my business. It’s like a Swiss Army knife. It’s a tool that accomplishes so much at once. I highly recommend it. I’m a full on evangelist for the medium and you should all be doing it if you’re listening to this. So if you want to learn more about how to do it, you can also go to rise 25 Media calm and learn all about it. Alright, so bill, let’s dive into first let’s talk about a little bit about the history of Agile where it came from. And interestingly enough, it came down from a mountaintop. No, I mean, literally, it came down from a mountaintop. This is such a funny story. A group of top leading engineers, I believe it was about coming up at 20 years ago, literally went to a mountaintop and came up with this philosophy. So what is agile for those who don’t know what it is? And how did they come up? With it,

Bill Raymond 03:00

yeah, you know, it started in the software development area. And so these people that were at the mountaintop in Utah, they actually came up with a number of values that really kind of make up how they want to do software development. And the reason for why this even became a thing was because I’m a project manager, I come from the project management world. And for a very long time, I have been working in this with this concept of building project plans, kind of think about everything that you do, from top to bottom, left to right. And when you think top to bottom, left to right, you have what’s called a waterfall. And what the software developers were having a hard time with was, well, we have to sit here and wait for all these committees to make decisions before we can even start developing. And then when we do start developing things change All the time. So we need to change that we need to get started developing sooner, and then be able to react to change. And so they came up with four, if you will, guiding principles. One is it managing individual, sorry, individuals and interactions over processes and tools. And another is working software over comprehensive documentation.

John Corcoran 04:25

And I sorry, I want to interrupt you there, but I know they’re two more, but some of these were pretty disruptive at the time, the idea of, you know, putting these you know, these philosophies out there were really kind of disruptive to the way people have been doing it for a while, right.

Bill Raymond 04:40

Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, I feel like if you sit down and talk to a software developer, you would hear the common issues, which is that, hey, you know, I’m in a meeting and I don’t need to be here. I should be able to, I should be developing. Right? You know, I mean, You’re asking me to document this thing, but it’s not even done yet. So I should just be giving you the minimum amount of documentation. But a lot of times what happens is, as software developers and engineers read this Manifesto, and obviously ran with it, it sparked some energy. And everyone said, How can we kind of live and breathe this idea? And that’s kind of how that started. But as you said, you know, from a management perspective, and I’m one of those managers, at first, I was pretty unclear as to where this was going to go, it felt like I was going to lose a lot of control. And a lot of the people that I worked with my clients, they would also say, Well, this is taking far too much control out of my hands and putting it into the hands of the teams. And so yeah, it is it was very controversial at the time and sometimes when you’re starting to implement agile and you’re trying to live and breathe these things. It’s still controversial.

John Corcoran 05:58

Yeah, right. So I interrupted you. But you mentioned the first two principles, there are two more principles.

Bill Raymond 06:03

Yeah, the other is customer collaboration over contract negotiation, and responding to change over following a plan. And I don’t know if we need to go into each one of these individually. But the concept here is, look, we have to, we don’t know when we’re building software, what it’s ultimately going to look like. So we should be doing is talking to customers more iterating on small features, and just trying it out before we try to design the whole thing, because it will change, not develop all the documentation that anyone could possibly ever need, when you’re still going through these change, this change. So and also, you know, really focus on the team collaboration as opposed to committees and these big teams of people that kind of making decisions for you. Even when what they decide may or may not fit into the software product that you’ve written, right, and

John Corcoran 07:06

now, in terms of the history of agile, it started in the technology and software realm. But, you know, there are many other companies that have implemented this, which aren’t software companies, right?

Bill Raymond 07:19

Yeah, no, absolutely. Or software companies with departments within them, that that do this as well, for example, you know, Microsoft and their marketing group, they adopted agile techniques, and they’re doing, you know, it’s, it’s took them a while to adopt it now that, you know, that’s how they do their work, right. So I think what’s interesting here is that you don’t have to be in software development in order to adopt these ideas, these philosophies, these practices that software developers have put in place, they’re, they’re actually useful for any business that you might be in.

John Corcoran 07:55

So first of all, I want to acknowledge Kimberly Lohan. Rodney is he And also Scott Anderson Scott, good to see you. Scott said he’s very interested in Agile. So and also, if you’re listening to this on a recording, go connect with me on LinkedIn. look me up john Corcoran. And you’ll know about any future live recordings like this that I do. So you can ask questions as we go along. But I also want to ask you, Bill about what are some of the sorts of considerations that people who heard about agile should think about if they’re thinking about adopting in that organization? What are some of the initial questions they should ask?

Bill Raymond 08:32

Yeah, I think a lot of times when the conversation gets started around agile, the first thing people say is, oh, we’re doing stand up meetings. And you know, if you’ve never heard of a stand up meeting their daily meetings, they last about 15 minutes in there. You know, what am I in? Everyone sort of stands there and says, here’s what I’m, here’s what I accomplished. Here’s what I’m doing today. Here’s what I’m doing tomorrow. And here’s any blockers to the project. And of course, everyone’s thinking, another meeting right?

Bill Raymond 09:00

Oh no, please don’t do that. And you’re bringing in this person that’s gonna like force us to do it. No, that’s not the case. So agile is about improving team flow. It’s about improving how you get your work done. And it’s about empowering teams to make decisions and make changes along the way. Because if something’s not going, well, the team should be able to pivot. And so a lot of what this is, if that’s the first thing people ask me is the meetings, but really, what it’s about is how do you properly form a team? And then after you’ve formed those teams, what are the ways that we’re going to enable them to improve? So what are we gonna? What meetings are we going to kill and get rid of so that we can just have these stand up meetings and not have 20 other status meetings? How do we think about what a status meeting is? How do we think about how we select work and get that into the backlog is what we call it so that we can start working on it. So it’s early on stages of this is really thinking about how you’re going to organize, organize your team, not about what meetings you’re going to, you’re going to set up and put on people’s calendar.

John Corcoran 10:19

And we were talking about this before. And you were saying that there are some consultants and some experts in Agile who are very rigid in their implementation, they say you need to have all these different pieces in place. But you actually say that it’s okay to have a hybrid model. It’s okay to take certain pieces that work for your company, implement those, and it’s okay to not implement others.

Bill Raymond 10:41

Yeah, you know, I think every company that you go into has its own sets of acronyms. Every time I walk into a company, they’re always they start throwing off all these terms and I’m going I have no idea what the EVA project is or you know, a fbla is you know, and but there are all these things. And if you go out and search for agile philosophies, agile processes, agile methodologies, and you Google those, what you’re going to get is a laundry list of all of these different approaches that different companies or organizations or groups have created. So the popular ones, for example, are Scrum and safe, which is a scaled agile framework. All of these different approaches. You shouldn’t think of them as, Oh, we’re adopting this one we should be thinking is, here’s what we’re trying to do. Here’s culturally and organizationally, what we can do at least right now. And so what are some of these best practices from any of them that we can pick from, and then you’ll probably even invent your own. So I’m a really big fan of not trying to, you know, pigeonhole anyone into one particular framework or or, you know, philosophy.

John Corcoran 12:04

Right. And now another question, if I’m thinking about implementing this in my company, you know, an obvious question is how quickly can we make this happen? Because I’m sure, you know, every company is thinking, well, we don’t want to spend forever on this. So can we make it happen by next week? Right? How long? How long does it take? How quickly can they get started?

Bill Raymond 12:26

And the funny thing is usually when someone asked me that, they asked for a project plan. So Well, here, here’s the thing is that this is going you have to think of implementing agile as organizational change. And that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to change your entire company. But it could have a significant impact on how you’ve organized the teams that are going to be adopting agile and so what When you’re thinking about this, you really have to think about this as something that’s an initiative. It’s going to go on forever. Like you’re good. Hopefully, you don’t have new way of doingthings,

Bill Raymond 13:10

right. Hopefully, I’ll just say, Oh, we did Scrum. Now we’re done. Right? Right. We’re constantly innovating. But at some point, you want to get to that, you want to get to that sort of, if you will peek that says, Okay, we’re kind of operating really well now. And I think that what that will be is you can take some, you take your baby steps, you treat it like it’s an agile project, you identify the things that you can do right away. Maybe it is stand up meetings, maybe it is a little bit of this and a little bit of that, you select the things that you know, aren’t going to cause a whole lot of I won’t call it damage to the team while you’re figuring it all out. So that that piece that sort of forming some basic concepts usually takes around three months, that piece where you’re kind of doing it and actively working in Agile And even using tools, that’s something that we talked about before, john, and might be a whole other conversation is that you know, you still need tools to do your work and manage and plan work. But when you think about that, that’s usually nine to 12 months before you’re there before you’ve said, We are now functioning in an agile way. And we’ve reorganized our teams, maybe even change people’s titles in order to do that. That’s, you know, so we’re talking about three months to kind of kickstart it, and then nine to 12 months before you’re living it.

John Corcoran 14:36

Got it. Got it. We got a couple of questions that have come in here. So first of all, de Berlin. Great to see you. He’s the city leader of Bunker labs, and he’s based in Las Vegas, and good to see you Dave. Good friend, Scott Anderson still here and Kimberly Lohan. He had a question she asked. How would you see this impacting real estate in media companies?

Bill Raymond 14:59

Yeah, so Think actually media company. So what’s interesting with media companies in specifically is that, you know, they actually have, you almost can think of these individuals as kind of coming up with some big ideas, right, and then implementing them and who implements them. They’re software developers, they’re designers. They’re people that have to work together on a regular basis, you can almost think of that as a software development team. And so the way that you kind of define how this changes, is you what you’re trying to do really, when you’re doing agile, is get rid of the old stuff that’s slowing things down, so you can react faster. And I don’t think we’ve ever seen this happen more during this time. I just talked to a person who saw this COVID thing happen and he worked with software For developer and an author and a designer, to put together a book around working from home, because he’s always worked from home, but he never had the time, those teams work together using agile tools. And they released it in a month. And his first sales were about $100,000. And so, so this is what how it’s changing is that you can react a lot faster. I don’t know the real estate industry well enough to say how it could affect them. But I’m sure there’s some opportunity.

John Corcoran 16:33

Yeah, and probably ways that teams can maybe work together because you know, if it’s a project selling a home, or selling an apartment building or selling a commercial building or something like that, maybe, you know, there’s a series of tasks that need to be done. There are people that need to work together. So maybe it’s just an approach to help them with, how to organize it, and how to how to get all the work done. So, thank you for Question. So Bill also wanted to ask about, you kind of address the issue of how long it would take. Another one is and you know, how teams are put together, particularly in a larger organization, you know, it might be that they have the whole marketing team is here and the whole software development team is here and the customer service team is here. And really, you know, that might mean that you need to make some changes. So talk a little bit about how that affects things.

Bill Raymond 17:27

Yeah, so let’s just pretend for a minute that you’re in the software development team, john, and you’re managing a team of software developers that just adopted agile, and you’re using some of the just basic concepts such as a product owner that’s defining what needs to, you know, sort of the roadmap for the work and what the priorities are, and you’re running things in sprints. And so every time you have a two-week sprint of work that you’re doing, kind of locked in the team. This team decided what work they can do based on the amount of staff they have and the sizing of the work. So, um, you know, you might be a manager too, but you know, the team is the ones that decided that along with the product owner. Now here I am sitting in marketing, and I didn’t adopt agile, okay, I’m just trying to get work done. Maybe I have a project plan or something that I’ve developed. Well, if I’m not working in concert with your Agile process, then there’s a good chance that my work is not going to get fit into that backlog of backlog of work. And we’ll have different concepts of who’s whose work is really priority if we had reorganized ourselves, so that a marketing team member myself is on the development team, and we’re all just kind of a team working on this project. And, you know, my priorities are your priorities. Things are going to work a lot more smoothly. And we’re not going to say, oh, agile doesn’t work because the software developers are over there doing agile, well, actually, no, we should all be doing it together as a team.

John Corcoran 19:11

Hmm, that’s great. And then Dave Berlin asked an interesting question. Let me find it here. He said, I just learned about agile so this is perfect timing. He said, which is great for a day then he said, how’s it compared to traction? traction, of course, by Gino wickman. I’ve got his most recent book here, entrepreneurial leap, which is a great book, I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s considering especially in boy in the current times we’re in where a lot of people are maybe thinking about starting a business because maybe they got laid off. But um, traction. You know, he’s the founder of also the iOS operating system. So I don’t know if you’re familiar with all that. But can you compare the two? If you’re to the extent you’re familiar with both?

Bill Raymond 19:51

Yeah, I’m not really familiar with traction. So if you give me a little insight,

John Corcoran 19:54

yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s called the entrepreneurial operating system. It’s and it’s a way of And I’m going to probably butcher the description of it. But it was designed from his own personal experience of going in, he had was involved in running a family business. And, and basically, in a lot of closely held and private, especially family businesses, there are certain people that are in the wrong role. So it’s about classifying where you should be what role you should be playing, allowing that person to transition into that role that it that they’re naturally good at that they get energy from, that they enjoy doing, and then bringing in other people who then will perform different functions. Like for example, if you’re a creative type, and you’re stuck doing the bookkeeping, not a good fit, right. So that should be switched around. So I think that’s, I think that was what Dave was asking about that. So

Bill Raymond 20:47

yeah, that that does. Thank you. And thanks for the question, Dave. I think I think that these are very complimentary from what I’ve just heard. Yeah. Yeah. So here’s the thing actually is that when Initially go through. And I do say this is organizational change agile is it’s not just doing agile, you’re going to have to reorg. And so there’s going to be people on your team that always wanted these software developers that I talked to all the time. Again, it doesn’t have to be for software development, but they’re always saying, I became a manager because I wanted more money, and I wanted more responsibility, but I don’t like managing. If you take this sort of organizational structure around agile, then we would get you into that role. And get someone that really loves managing people in that role. There are some managers that really like their control, I’m being one of them. I love my control. But what happens is, you know, I can’t be a master of everything. And what I think I’m pretty good at is thinking long term about things like where is the market going and, and thinking a bit more strategically. So maybe my role is No longer that of a people manager. But my role becomes that of a product owner, or a business owner that can really think about where we’re going to go directionally. And so there are going to people be people when you’re implementing agile, that just hold on really tight, and say this is I like what I’m doing. And maybe that is great. Maybe that works. But there are times when people just don’t want to go on for the ride. And that can certainly be a challenge. But I think that this question around traction and, and finding the right roles for people, this is so important, if you’re going to adapt at adopting agile, otherwise, all you’re doing is you’re gonna just go right back to the old way. You were doing things when you’re actually trying to make a change to improve your organization.

John Corcoran 22:49

Yeah, that’s a great point. And thank you for drawing that distinction on the fly as the fun of live questions, so thanks, everyone, for all the great questions David. Kimberly Scott. Everyone who is here. And Bill, of course, thank you so much for taking the time to enlighten all of us about what agile is. It’s an idea that I’m sure a lot of people have heard of, but maybe don’t know all the details around it. So where can people learn more about you?

Bill Raymond 23:15

Yeah. If you’re on LinkedIn right now, just look for Bill Raymond and you’ll see my, my bald head up there. And the name of the company,

Bill Raymond 23:26


John Corcoran 23:30

Excellent. All right. Thanks so much, Phil.