As follow-up to a previous post, I wanted to share a recent experience related to having someone from outside the group come in and suggest new ideas. In this case, the outsider was myself, and I was representing the Agilist in a group that was just getting off the ground with Agile software practices. The first few things I noticed were: (1) how willing everyone was listen to my suggestions (as an unbiased outsider), (2) how much experience I had gained within my own group and (3) who the internal champion was and how he was working to transition the group.
This arrangement is an alternative to the more expensive approach of bringing consultants from outside the company; however, the obvious catch is the company has to be large enough to have experts from outside the group. The key to making this work is to ensure the experts from within the company remain neutral to any factions that may exist. This is easier said than done, as it quickly becomes obvious where the obstacles are. In addition, the experts should use in moderation specific examples of how they have succeeded with their own group as this may unintentionally arouse feelings of bias. In other words, the internal experts should not continually use “our product x is wildly successful doing blah process”. Instead, they should focus the advice towards helping the new group and showing the benefits the change will make. In general, the experience has made me much more attentive to looking for others who may have useful knowledge from within our organization.