“There is either do or do not, there is no try”
With his deep, in the trenches, agile experience, Bob Galen is widely considered as a “Coach of Coaches” in the agile community.
He’s been using Extreme Programming since 2001, Scrum practices since the late 1990’s, and Kanban since 2009. He’s been actively coaching agile teams, both as an external consultant and internal change agent, for the past 17+ years.
What is your role? Principal Agile Coach
Why did you say yes to coming to Vaco?
It’s going to sound strange, but the one big driver for me joining the Vaco team is Mary Thorn. Mary has worked for me, has consulted with me for my clients, I’ve worked with her as a consultant, and I mentor her. We’ve known each other for a long time. Mary and I have spoken for years about developing a team that gives us each a chance to work with good people who are aligned in their thinking as each adds his or her own talents and gifts. I wanted to be on a team of people like Mary, who walk their talk, are experts and who are also humble.
My aspiration is to do something different for clients. Agile done well can make a huge difference for client’s culture and ability to deliver value. Vaco’s Agile practice gives us the opportunity to start from scratch and really create a consulting culture that delivers excellence. This team can really be a difference maker. The passion for Agile and its ability to create dramatic positive change is in each of our hearts. What’s really cool about Vaco, about Sid and Taylor, is that both the company and the individuals involved align really nicely with Agile principles. I have also worked with Kim and am familiar with the great work Jim has done. These are just great people. We are building a small team of top talent.
What are you most excited about?
Like any team, with Agile coaches, we do a lot of work around team building. One of the exciting parts of starting a team is allowing things to emerge and unfold. When you add good people with an interesting mix of skills, a snowball develops. This combination of good people, with an emergent strategy, who are prepared to be surprised, is going to create great work on behalf of our clients. I don’t want to get stuck on “the practice needs to look this way…” It is going to be exciting to see how things unfold and how each engagement unfolds. The first three months will be about gaining momentum, client activity, getting our feet underneath us and realizing our passion with our clients. When we achieve that nexus, that meeting place, that plaza— when we get the balance right where our talents are coming up against our clients’ problems, there should be these big “aha’s” on the clients’ part.
What do you bring to this team?
One thing in particular is my brand; I have a blog, podcast, speak at conferences and do what I can to give back to the Agile community. Additionally, I believe my experience can add to the the team’s confidence. Sometimes having an experienced coach can serve as a glue to help the team really grow, and that is what gets me really excited — helping people grow. The classic measure of good leaders is how many leaders have they grown. Joining this team is about my legacy. Can I be part of an Agile practice that really kicks ass and share my experience and what I’ve learned? For me personally, I want to make a big difference for this team and its clients.
How will you be different in three years as a result of joining this group?
I think for me this team represents an opportunity for continued growth and learning. One thing about me is I am very reflective, I really like that Agile has a retrospective. I like to spend time looking back, reviewing, seeing how things can improve. It is very hard to do that alone. I’ll get better, because I am part of a team, and each member of the team will help every other member get better, which is going to be incredible for our clients. I’m envisioning the practice being fulfilled, customers being delighted, we have done great work and built on our internal vision. For me personally, I look forward to the chance to work with great people day to day and then have the chance to reflect, learn, grow and improve. For me, it is always about the learning.
If I retired tomorrow I would:
I wouldn’t retire tomorrow. I’m lucky in that I have found my retirement plan. I do what I care about — as long as I’m breathing this Agile stuff is what I’m going to do. Its work, but it’s not work. I truly love what I do.
Favorite people or pets to spend time with: My family, four children, four grandchildren, four animals (we always have two dogs and two cats) and my church.
Favorite book or movie: My favorite genre is science fiction fantasy, favorite author Terri Brooks. And movie would be Silver Linings Playbook.
People don’t know this about me: I grew up on a dairy farm in Central Pennsylvania; I began working and getting paid at 5 years of age, which is what formed my work ethic. To this day, the “smells” from the farm still haunt me…smiling.
College or professional team? I like the Philadelphia professional teams, especially the Eagles.