Effective Solutions Through Partnership

Category Archives: Professional Development

How Agile Can Provide Value on any kind of Project

Agile, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Corporate Training, Information Technology, IT Modernization, KAI Partners, Learning, Professional Development, Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Training, Workforce Development

By Lucie-Anne Radimsky, CSPO

Agile knocked and I *sprinted* through the door.

I recently participated in a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) training through the KAIP Academy.

In my role as a Business Development Lead with KAI Partners, I serve as a connector between my organization’s service delivery team and public sector, non-profit, and private sector clients who need and would benefit from our services. I also help to bring individuals through our workforce development training programs.

Why is this important? Well, as you may notice, I don’t work on IT projects directly and I certainly don’t manufacture anything but opportunities. Agile isn’t necessarily a methodology that fits neatly into my role—or does it?

Prior to working with KAI Partners, my understanding of Agile was limited. I believed it to be a language or mindset that only IT departments, consultants, and the manufacturing industry would use.

Entering my CSPO training recently, I felt a mix of excitement and apprehension. Having spent the last 17 years as an entrepreneur in communications, I was used to making it up as I went along.

My apprehension quickly faded to comprehension and total awe of the simple framework that Agile provides.

As specific as some of the processes are, what I gained from this experience is a greater understanding of how to navigate a project more effectively—piece by piece, sprint by sprint.

This understanding of how to navigate projects of any kind—not just IT projects—gives me a sense of accomplishment, keeps my stakeholders and team apprised of my progress via daily updates, and allows me to deliver a valuable end-product.

As I learned in the CSPO class, Agile provides an excellent structure for developing a project/product by assisting in the following:

  1. Identifying key objectives—the why that should drive all projects.
  2. Defining clear and simple goals that are realistic.
  3. Encouraging constant interaction with the team/stakeholders to ensure progress and buy-in.
  4. Prioritizing tasks so you can focus on the essentials needed to deliver a valuable product to the stakeholder(s) in a timely fashion.

Now think about this for a minute—where wouldn’t Agile apply?

Which reminds me, I need to stop by the store to buy whole milk so my stakeholder children can eat their cereal in the morning which meets my primary objective to ensure they are healthy and well fed. But first I’ll check in with my husband to make sure he hasn’t already done so and doesn’t have any additional items to add to my shopping list.

Interested in expanding your knowledge, efficiency, and skills and learning more about Agile? Register for our next CSPO session! Click here for all our KAIP Academy Agile courses!

About the Author: Lucie-Anne has over 15 years’ experience in communications and business development in the U.S. and Europe, on behalf of start-ups and non-profits. She has signed and represented clients within the technology, energy, and telecommunications sectors to government agencies, journalists, and industry analysts throughout the world. Lucie-Anne has both American and E.U. citizenship. She is fluent in English and French. Lucie-Anne is an active community volunteer and has served on numerous non-profit boards and led alumni groups in Paris, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. She holds a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Irvine. She currently resides in Sacramento with her Brazilian husband and two boys.

KAI Partners Internship Program

Agile, Business Analysis, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Information Technology, Internship Program, KAI Partners, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Professional Development, Sacramento, Scrum, Technology, Training, Workforce Development

KAI Partners recently graduated the second cohort of our Internship Program in Sacramento! With interns from Sacramento City College and Sierra College, we were honored to have such hard-working interns adding value to our Special Projects team for the past few months.

We wanted to check in with our interns to get their feedback on the internship program. Here’s what they had to say:

Sumayyah Jackson: Since I was young, I have been exposed to IT consulting—my aunt is in the Organizational Change Management (OCM) field and my father is an IT Consultant. While I had some prior knowledge, IT is not something I usually focus on, so I knew this internship would be stepping out of my comfort zone. I have always been open to change and learning, so this opportunity caused excitement rather than fear.

During my time at KAI Partners, I learned about each field in IT Consulting and I was able to gain background on these fields by interviewing a few of my colleagues. I became a Certified ScrumMaster, learning the ins and outs of the Agile/Scrum methodology. I learned to facilitate meetings, assisted in planning and executing events, and mapped out Business Process Diagrams using the BPMN 2.0 standards. Overall, this internship sparked an extreme interest in me for IT and Business. My internal personal skills strengthened along with my analytical and research skills.

Shyanne Long: I wanted to be an Intern for KAI Partners for a few reasons. I have family members who either are currently in the business or were previously in a similar line of work. However, they were never able to give a solid answer of what they actually did on a daily basis for work. I never had a clear understanding until I started working at KAI Partners.

The KAI Partners Internship Program exceeded my expectations! I was able to become a Certified ScrumMaster and practice using Scrum methods throughout the program. I learned how to create and maintain a LinkedIn profile, how to plan and execute events, and how to write a blog post. I also learned BPMN 2.0 standards and applied them by mapping KAI Partners’ business processes. I supported special projects, the communication team, and the business development team. I was forced out of my comfort zone many times with facilitating meetings, events, and conducting interviews with team members. It felt great to do things I never thought I could do before!

Says Stephen Alfano, KAI Partners’ Fall 2018 Intern Program Manager, “I’ve participated in many internship programs in my career. Of all the programs that I helped construct and lead, this one was the most rewarding for me personally. In addition to helping me drive special projects forward faster, this program provided me with a golden opportunity to deliver on our firm’s workforce development and diversity agenda—creating commercial value for our business in the process.”

Stephen continues, “Shyanne and Sumayyah were engaged and all-in from Day 1; I couldn’t ask for a better cohort.”

KAI Partners wants to thank our superstar interns for their diligence and dedication over the past few months. We know you will go on to do great things and we are excited to be just one small part of shaping your future!

Interested in applying for KAI Partners’ next Internship Program cohort? Email your resume to recruitment@kaipartners.com.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The OCM Consultant

Business Analysis, Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO), Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Communications, Continuous Improvement, Corporate Training, Government, Healthcare, KAI Partners, Lean Six Sigma, Learning, Organizational Change Management (OCM), Process Improvement, Professional Development, Prosci, Sacramento, Six Sigma, Technology

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Denise Larcade, an Organizational Change Management (OCM) Consultant for KAI Partners. Denise recently supported Business Process Re-engineering implementation for a KAI Partners client before moving on to implement some special projects at KAI Partners headquarters. Denise’s next client-facing role starts soon—she will be an OCM consultant for a California public sector state agency to help them move from a paper system to an electronic process.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Denise Larcade: I started in grocery retail working in the stores—I found areas where I excelled and was able to implement Human Resource, Technology, and Operations practices. The grocery industry, much like banking and airlines, fell into mergers and acquisitions. I was placed on various mergers and acquisitions teams and due to my experience, eventually led activities to support retail mergers and acquisitions. My last merger came with a relocation from Idaho to Minnesota which didn’t work for my family at that time, so I chose to go back to school and get my bachelor’s degree. Not enough to fill my time and still residing in Idaho, I looked for local opportunities where my skills would transfer outside of the retail industry. I was hired on as a contractor to a local tech firm headquartered in Boise, Idaho to work on HR restructuring. While creating a plan to support HR restructuring, I saw an opportunity to move from paper-based manual processes to electronic stream-lined process improvements. My next venture, also outside of my roots in retail, was to lead training and development efforts to support the implementation of Idaho state’s new MMIS (Medicaid Management Information System). Two years in, I received the phone call from a former Idaho colleague at MMIS to support training and development on California’s MMIS. This was the opportunity to move back home to California, and I was excited to spend more time with my 96-year-old grandmother. I moved back to California and was fortunate to have three quality years with the matriarch of our family.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

DL: I received training and certification as part of leadership development when I worked in grocery retail. This training was instrumental in understanding the people side of change long before Prosci was identified as a Change Methodology. My experience in mergers and acquisitions prepared me for being a leader for change. Later, getting my Prosci certification was a desire as the methodology aligned to activities I valued in my merger and acquisitions experience.

I have been twice certified as a Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. The first time was more than 20 years ago and my recent certification occurred earlier in 2018. It was nice to compare what is still a valued practice in Lean Six Sigma methodologies and how technology advancements provide a more streamlined approach to process improvement.

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

DL: Teaching others and assisting resistors through change. No one likes change and what I find most interesting is that we adapt and make changes in our personal lives every day, so why are we not as willing to make changes in our work lives? I like leading a group through the awareness of making a personal change and how and why adopting that same mindset is valuable to you, to others, and to your employer in your work life.

KAI: What is one of the most common question you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

DL: “Why do we have to change? We have been doing it this way forever. Doesn’t ‘if it’s not broke, don’t fix it’ apply?” My advice is to walk people through their personal life changes, e.g., The oven still works and isn’t broken, so why would you invest in a microwave? What are the benefits of a microwave versus an oven? Do those benefits support the investment? There are so many examples that support change. If we don’t change as a business, how can we be current and competitive?

Now that we’ve learned more about Denise’s OCM work, here’s a little more about her!

Quick Q&A with Denise:

Daily, must-visit website: I don’t have one, but I subscribe to many technology and change newsletters.  Sometimes you need something that pertains to your current focus of work.

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to: Top Pop and Top Country—I like to be relatable to the generations following mine. The music is usually uplifting and gives me lots of positive energy.

Best professional advice received: My grandfather was a great businessman; he developed his own corporation and was successful as a professional business leader, CEO, and mentor. He always said, “Your word is your commitment and treat others how you would like to be treated.”

Book you can read over and over again: Jack Welch’s book “Winning.” I could read it over and over again and it always pertains to my work at hand.

Most-recent binge-watched show: I don’t watch much TV and tend to turn it on for background noise; however, I am a fan of Survivor and the Amazing Race. I love to watch people problem-solve and I like to be on teams where people problem-solve.

About Denise: Denise Larcade is an Organizational Development Consultant and Merger and Acquisitions Expert. She is a Certified ScrumMaster, Certified Scrum Product Owner, Lean Six Sigma Green Belt, and is Prosci certified. She has over 25 years of experience in training, development, and leading companies through organizational change management. Denise has worked in corporate retail, technology, and government healthcare and most recently has experience with large-scale implementations nationwide. She currently works as an Executive Consultant with KAI Partners, Inc., providing client support to KAI Partners’ state clients. Denise grew up in the Silicon Valley and relocated to Utah and Idaho before recently returning to her native California roots.

Increase Teamwork and Collaboration with Scrum

Agile, Certified ScrumMaster (CSM), Corporate Training, Learning, Professional Development, Project Management, Sacramento, Scrum, Servant Leadership, Training, Workforce Development

By Shyanne Long, CSM

As a young woman entering the workforce, I want to learn as much as possible. After being hired on with KAI Partners as a Special Projects Intern, I was delighted to get the opportunity to attend the KAIP Academy’s Certified ScrumMaster® class.

From day one, the internship program was structured using Agile and Scrum processes. My intern partner and I acted as the development team while our supervisor was in the role of Scrum Master. We use a Sprint plan as well as a Kanban. In addition, we commence in bi-weekly stand-up meetings. Although I had a base of understanding and knew Scrum processes were helpful, I wasn’t sure how Scrum could be applied throughout my career. After taking the course, my outlook has changed.

A few of the most valuable lessons I learned in the class include sprint planning, how to organize a Kanban, and how to hold a sprint review and retrospective. In addition, I have a good understanding of the Scrum team roles and responsibilities. The Scrum Master acts as a servant leader to the group, ensures events take place, and helps everyone practice the Scrum theory, rules, and values. As the class instructor, Bernie Maloney put it:

“Scrum is lightweight and simple to understand but it can be difficult to master. To master Scrum, it will take continual practice.”

One thing I really appreciate about Scrum is that it’s very collaborative. Teamwork makes the dream work! The class activities were collaborative and included a lot of teamwork, which is similar to real life situations. We practiced timed sprints, sprint review, and sprint retrospectives. Bernie also encouraged the class to be self-motivated and self-organizing. It helped the class come together to figure out the best way we can complete the activity.

In my day-to-day, I enjoy doing a daily scrum meeting in the morning with my team. It is a quick, five-minute check-in and it sets me up to have a productive day. It gets everyone in the team on the same page and allows them to be “in the loop.”

I know that Scrum will be relevant throughout my career because it can be operated in almost any project you work on. It can be applied because Scrum is flexible and adaptive. According to the Scrum Guide, Scrum has been used worldwide to research and identify viable markets, technologies, and product capabilities and develop, release, sustain, and renew products.

Scrum’s values will also drive me throughout my career. Scrum’s values include commitment, courage, focus, openness, and respect. I found it very interesting that these values line up well with KAI Partners’ core values as well. With these values in mind, I know that I can bring Scrum to the table wherever my career takes me and have a team of capable, respectful, and independent people.

Interested in taking our Certified ScrumMaster® or Certified Scrum Product Owner® courses? Visit our Eventbrite page to see our full schedule of upcoming courses!

About the Author: Shyanne is a Special Projects Intern at KAI Partners. She attends Sierra College and is exploring her career options. Ms. Long plans on transferring to a four-year university after completing her units at Sierra College. She has experience in customer service, childcare, assistant teaching, and is now in a business analyst role at KAI Partners. Shyanne is passionate about expanding her knowledge, working collaboratively, and making powerful connections. For fun, Shyanne enjoys spending with her family, reading, listening to podcasts, volunteering, and (attempting) to recreate home projects and recipes she finds on Pinterest.

Why the Lean Six Sigma Green Belt is Ideal for Managers [INFOGRAPHIC]

Continuous Improvement, Corporate Training, Lean Six Sigma, Learning, Managing/Leadership, Professional Development, Sacramento, Six Sigma, Training, Workforce Development

By Ashley Christman, LSS MBB, SSBBP, CSM

Are you thinking about getting a Lean Six Sigma certification? With several levels to choose from, it can be hard to know which is best for you. Here’s some insight:

Yellow Belts are professionals who have enough of the basic language and tools to act as subject matter experts. They’re empowered to make changes within their own work, but not quite prepared to tackle larger products. A Yellow Belt will give you the basics of Lean.

As a manager, though, you’re probably already spending your day collecting and analyzing data to implement fixes. Here’s where a Green Belt comes in. A Green Belt designation can help you utilize that data more effectively. Green Belt practitioners are equipped with the tools necessary to work on more complex projects and begin to lead change. A Green Belt also prepares you for the next step in Lean Six Sigma Certification: A Black Belt, for the advanced practitioner.

Need more? Here are the top three reasons why managers should be certified in Lean Six Sigma Green Belt.

Interested in getting your Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification? The KAIP Academy is accredited through the Council for Six Sigma Certification as an independent training provider. For a list of our current Lean course offerings in Sacramento, visit http://academy.kaipartners.com/course/lean-six-sigma-green-belt-certification/.

About the Author: Ashley Christman is a former nurse and Certified Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt with a background in organizational change management and Lean. Her extensive experience in healthcare quality and performance improvement has transformed a number of organizations and led to better outcomes in patient care, reductions in wait times, and more. Her experience includes consulting for the CA Department of Public Health as well as multiple large hospital systems, including Santa Rosa Memorial and Petaluma Valley Hospital. Her passion for improvement and educating others led her to begin teaching in order to help entrepreneurs, professionals, and leaders create a sustainable culture change by empowering them to be change agents and champions of innovation. You can find her online at @learnlivelean on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

« previous page · next page »