Simon Powers [AWA Founder]

I started managing development teams and promoting internet technologies in the late nineties as I saw this new medium as a way to promote freedom in speech, thought and commerce. I believe the internet and its related technologies is a modern wonder of the world and that no other technology in our lifetime has changed our world in such a fundamental and simple way.

I was lucky enough to be trained in basic technical skills through my job at GlaxoSmithKline when it was GlaxoWellcome. I soon became a ‘champion’ of the global intranet promoting collaboration, efficiency and shared services throughout GW.

When the boom really kicked off, I saw an opportunity to join a New Media Agency called The Hub Communications. It was the Wild West frontier of the internet and I was a big part of pioneering different uses of this new technology. I was part of the team who first placed a web cam in a formula one racing car and part of the team who set up one of the first satellite links to allow electronic trading in a Canadian Bank’s prime brokerage by UK clients.


My role was to manage, plan and implement all of DHL’s global web presence as well as the E-Commerce web site for one of the UK’s largest retailers – Comet. I had a team of 15 developers and designers with a budget of £20k – £100k a month.

Soon after, I left to join a larger Agency with more responsibility and a bigger list of clients. I ran the technical team for Arc Marketing (then called Blue Marble and second largest marketing agency in the world), and managed £1M budgets for global projects for FIAT, Tetley (Tea), Philips (Household and Electrical), Mars (Confectionary), Churchill (Insurance) and many more smaller clients.

Starting my own consultancy

Having gained expertise working for other people, I decided to set up my own agency in 2003, specialising in the technical side of building Internet sites. I built the company over a period of seven years to handle £1M+ accounts with clients such as Oxfam (E-Commerce, Global Inventory, Campaigns and Financial Systems), BBC (Various global sites), Saatchi and Saatchi, Old Mutual, Allied Insurance (Nationwide Banking), Cambridge University, Network Rail and many more.

Agile helped me turn the Oxfam Online Shop from a £250k / yr to £10M / yr in 18 months

Initially the company struggled with meeting project deadlines, keeping within budgets and fulfilling the scope of functionality that was detailed in our contracts. I knew there had to be a better way.

We spent six months speaking to clients, detailing the problems we had had, working on ways to improve and coming up with a crude iterative based system. Finally we presented our research to a wide enough group that we were introduced to Agile. We realised we were essentially redesigning the work already gone before and immediately adopted Scrum as our development process and took practices from Extreme Programming for the development teams.

Using Agile changed my view on the future of software development. It renewed all my enthusiasm and hope for the industry. The Agile process is nothing short of pure art, and done well it gives us the ability to build the right thing, with zero defects in the most efficient and human way.

I became a true Agile evangelist.

Large scale agile & organisational change

After liquidating my company at exactly the right time during the credit crunch, I avoided the serious downturn. I became a consultant and used my contacts to bring Agile to large organisations to solve their problems using what I had learnt in my own company.

I advised Loot, a subsidiary of the Daily Mail on how to streamline their business by refining processes using Agile to help them sell the company. This was achieved within a six month period.

I had already started trading using a broker account and spread betting. I was starting to get much more interested in a global view and in applying my beliefs to make money through trading. I wanted to learn more about Finance and combine my knowledge of Agile with long term financial projects rather than the shorter duration projects in Media and Marketing.

I brought Agile to Goldman Sachs Client Reference Data and transformed their Client Onboarding program to use Scrum, XP and Kanban. This was my first large scale organisational transformation from Waterfall to Agile. I had full backing from senior management and plenty of resistance from elsewhere. It took nearly 2 years and was a complete success. The projects were highly praised and the process was then used elsewhere in the bank.

I moved to NYSE Euronext, where I was the Enterprise Architect on a new CFD and Spread Betting Exchange and Broker Platform. I learnt an incredible amount about markets, trading and exchanges.

After NYSE, I spent 7 months researching, refining and learning more about Agile processes and how this might apply to scaling Agile, especially in the areas of Architecture and Finance.

I then joined Tesco PLC on a project that, for the first time, joined Tesco PLC (Tills) with Tesco.com (Web) and Tesco Bank.

I was instrumental in providing a cohesive high performance (real-time) service architecture to enable personalisation of offers for all customers worldwide.

I trained and coached managers and the teams to use Scrum and Extreme Programming and to provide code quality metrics, specFlow, continuous integration and test driven development. I also provided coaching on an informal one-to-one basis.

The system communicates with every till in every store to collect every customer transaction.

Agile helped me to help Tesco produce a zero defect solution to every till in every store servicing 400 req/sec with less than a 2 second response time

 


Scaled Agile Framework

Following the success at Tesco, I found a short consultancy project at Aircom International as Interim Head Of Architecture.

My role was to transition the architecture team from a standalone silo to be integrated into the development teams and to bring a cohesive scaled Agile methodology to the organisation. I helped define the Product Owner’s team’s backlog process, align sprints across the teams and to develop an architectural runway. Coached Managers, Scrum Masters, Product Owners, Lead Developers and Architects. I learnt a lot about how Architecture can help or hinder Agility.

During this time I worked with a Lawrence Wong, one of the first people to implement Dean Leffingwell’s Scaled Agile Framework at Nokia. This led me to investigate SAFe and I soon met David Hicks, one of the founders of the Agile Alliance who was also one of the first trainers for the SAFe Agilist exam.

“It was a great pleasure to work with Simon Powers and Adventures with Agile. I am impressed how Simon setup the Adventures with Agile group with his professionalism, great organization and facilitation skills. I’m looking forward to work with Simon again.” – Michael Stump – Managing Director – EMEA & SAFe Fellow at Scaled Agile, Inc.

 

I soon became qualified as: 

  • Scrum Master
  • Scrum Professional
  • SAFe Program Consultant

 

I introduced Behaviour Driven Development to BNP Paribas and reduced the time teams spent on defects from 35% to 7% in 6 months. This opened doors for me in my role to transform the entire client reporting landscape for BNP Paribas. I have written a case study of my work at BNP Paribas.

Adventures with Agile

In 2014, I created Adventures with Agile, the only global community of practice for Scaling Agile across the organisation.

It is painfully obvious that Agile beyond a few teams is very hard for organisations to achieve. Organisations are only as able as their leadership, their structure and the resulting culture. Confusion, lack of emotional intelligence, and underlying beliefs that conflict with Agile values are often the cause.

Adventures with Agile addresses this in a number of ways, initially by making the most influential people in the agile world accessible through free events and training. In 2016, we launched our consultancy to provide contextual support to organisations and a secure and private platform for the members of the community called the “AWA Support Network”.

I have been privileged to train with Craig Larman, Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd, Scott Ambler, Don Reinertsen, and Dean Leffingwell – all thought leaders in tranformation, Agile, and organisational change

The training I have received through the community has enhanced not only my professional life but also my personal one. Keys figures such as the ones AWA host are truly inspiring people who have an impact on those around them just by being around them.

“Had a superb experience working with Simon Powers and Adventures with Agile. In addition to being a real expert and showing operational excellence, Simon is a delight to know!” – Craig Larman

I have also gained certification as a:

  • Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) practitioner
  • Black Belt Disciplined Agile Practitioner
  • ICAgile Certified Professional Coach (Institute of Coaching)

Organisational Design Coach

I professionally coach and mentor individuals who have the appropriate influence within organisations to make significant improvements on their evolutional journey. I coach and mentor leaders, managers, Agile teams, individuals, and entire organisations.

I typically have multiple clients running concurrently and work a few days where appropriate to add the most value.

I also run training courses, facilitate events, speak publicly on agile and Organisational Change. I have spoken at major Agile conferences, free meetups, universities, and to large groups inside organisations.

Awards

I was nominated and made the finalist shortlist for the Agile Awards 2015 for the person who has done the most to promote Agile. I was part of, initiated and led the transformation at Bristol City Council which won the Agile Award 2015 for best implementation of Agile in the Public Sector.

In 2016 I won the Agile Award of the person who has done the most to promote Agile globally and most popular agile conference speaker.  I am over the moon that we received recognition for the work we have all done over the last two years. That includes everyone who has ever come to the meetups, the training or the conferences.

 

Disciplined Agile Bronze Partners

After working very closely with Scott Ambler and Mark Lines, Adventures with Agile were awarded the Disciplined Agile (DA) Bronze Partner. This means that as DA Partners, the AWA Consultancy are now recognised for their expertise and experience to help organisations with their agile transformation programmes using DA as the framework for decision making.

 

I now spend my time building the AWA community, training and consultancy, and consulting at large organisations on organisation design and Agile implementation.

Other interests

I am a dedicated Yoga practitioner and I love being outside. I have two lovely children and a lovely wife. I live in a country cottage far enough away from the city to have fresh air but close enough to get in to London should I need to.

Contacting me

You can contact me via this website, you can use twitter @agileadventures, you can find me on LinkedIn, read My Articles or you can email me simon@ on this domain.

No recruitment agents or sales calls please.