The agile change does not happen by itself. The transition usually starts with an agent, an agile enthusiast – a heretic. No matter how hard she/he learns and tries, it may frequently appear like an old proverb – “no prophet is accepted in his hometown”. That is a reason to search for some external help to encourage the change. Another reason is that outside experts are usually full time dedicated professionals, and no matter how much of our time is freed up to learn and to ‘infect’ others, it hardly matches the experience and knowledge of those guys.
People usually complain about several things when it comes to consultants: not getting the value expected – they are expensive, they don’t understand the local processes and ways of working (“we are special” thinking pattern); they are too theoretical, etc.
There is no perfect consultant who is always available, familiar with our industry and knows the business model of every company. However, there is commonly found experience, a set of principles and practices that many good companies apply to achieve better results. That’s where their value is. Consultants can coach and help to get people to share and adopt those principles and practices. However, full coaching and support part cannot be ‘outsourced’ to these guys. Instead, leadership/management needs to be the pillar of changes and should focus on creating new internal coaches. Together, they implement new principles and keep the momentum until the culture of an organization is set for continuous improvement .
One of my agile colleagues said: “I am not sure how much the consultants helped us, but I am quite sure that, without them, we wouldn’t be here today”.