Show and Tell

I’m wrapping up my current consulting gig at Mercy in December, and starting a new gig at CenturyLink. I’m a software developer, but that’s only a part of what I do. What I really do is join a team and help them improve the way they work — both their processes and their technical skills.

I think this is a key differentiator for me as a consultant. Most consultants (and Agile coaches) come in and tell people what to do. I don’t like to just tell people what to do. I’d much prefer to work side-by-side with them, getting a better understanding of what their challenges are. Once I have a better understanding of the challenges, I’m able to better brainstorm some ideas to try. Then we can experiment to see what will work and what won’t.

Instead of telling people what to do, I show them how. Most people learn better from seeing than from hearing. They also learn better if you explain how and why, not just what. So showing them how to do something is more effective than telling them. By showing and doing, you can also set a good example. This is especially important when collaboration is a large part of what needs to be improved.

I’ve found that this style of consulting is more highly respected by everyone. I build trust with developers by working closely with them. Managers like to keep me around once they see how effective these methods can be, so the gigs I take on tend to last relatively long.

The biggest problem I have is explaining how this works. I don’t really know what to put on my résumé. Sometimes I call myself an Agile practitioner, and sometimes an Agile player/coach. But those aren’t terribly satisfying descriptions. I’m considering actually putting “I help teams improve the way they work — both their processes and their technical skills” on the résumé. But that seems awkward, and misses the show versus tell part. I’d be open to any suggestions.


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