Chris for hire - Agile Software Delivery and Coaching

Coronavirus seems to be here to stay, I have run out of odd little projects, and the cats are demanding a new climbing tower to replace the one they have trashed...so it's time to find a new contract. Here goes with some shameless self-promotion. (Hat-tip to Steve Smith for the format)


Who am I? 

I am Chris Pitts,  Boss Bear at Thirsty Bear Solutions. I’m a polymath consultant with a wide range of skills from multiple disciplines; a “Jack of All Trades, Master of Some”, if you will. I am an experienced test-infected developer, personal and business coach, a leader, trusted advisor and team whisperer. But first and foremost I help organisations with Software Delivery using iterative, continuous delivery, automated testing, test driven development, and code craft. I help teams and organisations find their mojo. I know a lot about technology choices, tradeoffs and pitfalls, but I am not afraid to say “I don’t know - let’s figure it out”, and get hands on keyboard alongside the team. 


What have I done?

This is a tough one. The short answer is “lots”. Over the years I have worked in many different domains such as telecoms, medical software, and retail. I have played roles such as consultant, developer, team lead and coach. I have helped people build software, build teams, fix their recruitment processes and also move their personal career forward.

Some edited highlights:

  • I am an approved Scrum Alliance REP trainer for the Certified Scrum Developer course. That is, I have taught quite a few people how to leverage modern iterative, "agile" techniques to deliver high quality software - both through certified and uncertified courses. Your Head of Software Development might well have been trained by me at some point in their past.
  • Helped a growing company transition from their less disciplined startup practices to cope with ongoing success, allowing them to expand and grow without losing pace. I actively collaborated with the CTO, helping him understand the deep underlying issues within the company, and advising on potential courses of action in order to implement iterative change successfully with minimal friction, while improving delivery and reduce risk of failure. As a result, release cadence dropped from 12 weeks to 2-3 weeks, with further improvements in the pipeline.
  • Developed a simple track & trace logging system for local businesses needing to log visitors to their premises. Customers can scan a QR code and enter their details, which are then stored securely and deleted after 21 days, as per UK government guidelines, unless there is a positive infection reported to the business owner. Currently in use in several locations.
  • Assisted Product Owners in a large motor manufacturer in how to break down what they need, and present it as outcome-based, prioritised deliverables suitable for passing to a technical development team, without resorting to micromanagement antipatterns. 
  • Worked with several teams in a bank, leading them through making changes to critical internal services. Improved internal and inter-team working while identifying major issues in the overall management style and approach. Improved delivery flow by removing unnecessary process steps that had been introduced.
I have also been nominated for an Agile Special Recognition Award at the (now defunct) UK Agile Awards for the consistent help and support I provide to the agile community. 

What can I help with?

Simple. I help organisations actively deliver quality software, rather than just talking about it, or drowning it in excessive process and red tape.

By listening and understanding the unique problems each client organisation is suffering from, I have a toolkit of techniques and experience that I can bring to bear to discover and suggest incremental steps that should improve delivery, as well as showing how to close the feedback loops to ensure the change had the desired effect. PDCA-tastic!

I can also help with your organisation's mental health. As a trained personal coach, I confidentially talk through folks' hopes, fears and concerns, and help them channel them in a positive way. I guide people on a journey through the changes happening around them.

As an experienced developer and trainer, I am more than willing to teach and coach your development teams in modern software technical practices such as TDD and continuous delivery. I believe these are critically essential skills for developers today if they are to produce high quality software quickly. "The only way to go fast is to go well" (Robert Martin, Clean Code).

Finally, I am a licensed Rees-McCann approved trainer, so I can teach people how to run events and interact more effectively online, a hugely important skill while many people are having to work remotely.

What am I looking for?

To coin a phrase, "I don't know what I want, but I'll know when I see it", but let's try and describe what I am looking for. If in doubt, get in touch and ask!

An organisation that wants to actively learn, change and improve their game. Somewhere I can be challenged and learn new things as well. Somewhere I can actually get things done, and where I can help people avoid the elephant traps; I have made many of the mistakes already, so you don’t have to. And finally, I am looking for somewhere I can make a difference. Many companies lose sight of how hard they are pushing their delivery teams, but I genuinely believe that fast delivery of high quality software does not have to be stressful. Quite the opposite. 

I can play roles as diverse as Delivery Coach, Process Coach, developer and Team Lead. But ultimately I find these almost always distil down to "Just Coaching" - some process coaching, some product coaching, some technical coaching in practical, modern software techniques, and finally some personal coaching on personal and team interactions. 

So I can summarise all that by saying I help folks deliver quality software. If that means you want coaching and training to improve your game, I'll do that. But if you are already delivering new features, with confidence, bug-free, multiple times per day then I can help you with that too.

I’m based near Farnham, UK (never heard of it? Guildford is the nearest city). So that means I am striking distance from London, Reading and the south coast. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic I am working from home for the foreseeable future. This opens up exciting opportunities to work remotely anywhere in the UK, or the world. As long as the timezone difference is manageable (within 2 hours of London), get in touch for a chat.

Want to know more?

Get in touch through LinkedIn, or the Thirsty Bear website. I look forward to hearing from you!

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