What are some big red flags when hiring an agile consultant?



What are some big red flags when hiring an agile consultant?

For me there are a few red flags to look out for.

  1. Not engaging in the agile community.
  2. A lack of knowledge around the core concepts.
  3. A consultancy that focuses on output and revenue rather than quality and expertise.

These are the reasons I think these are red flags and should act as prompts for you to investigate a bit deeper before making a call on whether to hire them or not.

Not engaging in the agile community

You want to work with people who are a part of a group, a community, a cause, or an effort where people share their ideas, concepts, and experiences.

The reason this matter is because you don’t want people who operate in echo chambers. Places where their ideas are never challenged and where they aren’t exposed to different lines of reasoning or different case studies and experiences.

You want them to be an active member of a professional melting pot where they learn from others, grow through the exposure to other lines of reasoning, and develop their critical analysis capabilities by challenging others or asking for coaching and mentoring from senior members of the community.

In my experience, there are few things better than having professionals in your community challenge your argument and allow you to develop a deeper understanding of why you think what you do, how that can improve, and in some cases, why that line of reasoning is valid.

If the only tool you have in your toolbox is a hammer, you tend to look at every problem as a nail.

That is what we are actively trying to avoid. Someone who is trapped in the past and believes that a specific best practice exists for every application and context. We live in a complex world and as such, we need to develop practices that fit with the environment we serve rather than try to run out the same old experiment, time and again, regardless of whether it is the right approach or not.

A lack of understanding or knowledge of the core concepts.

In our industry, we sometimes have people who have practiced as a scrum master for a couple of years deciding to present themselves as an agile coach or agile consultant without the necessary skills development and appropriate knowledge to do so.

You want people who can talk knowledgeably about the core concepts of Agile. Things like:

  • Empiricism or Empirical Process Control
  • Lean
  • Lean UX Product Development

And so forth.

They need to be able to articulate the core concepts of agile, in the context of the person they are serving, in a way that allows people to grasp the fundamentals and embrace the path to agility.

If they don’t have this core knowledge, they lack credibility. If they don’t know how Agile came to be and what the primary drivers of progress have been, they don’t have enough knowledge or expertise to help you in your unique, complex situation.

You want someone who learns from the community but also actively studies literature from thought leaders in the history, has attended courses and certification programmes that validate their knowledge of agile and why the theory that underpins agile is proven and reliable.

You want someone that has worked in complex environments, preferably as both a practitioner and a coach, and has a proven track record of helping teams achieve their goals and objectives, regardless of the industry or constraints that team work within.

You often find that the people who simply regurgitate what the scrum guide says, or are sticklers for following agile dogma, are the people you least want to be working with. That isn’t agility, that is the antithesis of agility.

You want someone who is attempting to help you achieve the outcomes you want and need, through whatever best works for the team. Sure the scrum guide says X, but it does so with the purpose of trying to achieve Y. If you have a better way of doing that, great, let’s explore that option and test whether our hypothesis is valid or not.

A consultancy that focuses on output rather than quality and expertise.

A great agile consultancy is one that focuses on recruiting the top talent in the industry. People who are incredibly knowledgeable, deeply experienced, and have a proven track record of delivering great outcomes for clients.

A red flag is a consultancy that is focused on volume.

They don’t acquire the best talent nor do they nurture that talent to become even better at their job. They focus instead on ensuring that they have the volume of workers to address the volume of work they have contracted.

The latter consultancy gets into a vicious cycle because as they contract more work, they need more people to perform the work, and so they aren’t hiring experts, they are hiring who is available.

This pattern repeats with each cycle and each time they hire, the barrier to entry lowers and the calibre of consultant that you are hiring drops with the volume dependency. Because the consultancy now has so many consultants, they need to be even more aggressive in acquiring clients to feed those overheads and the spiral continues downward until something breaks.

A great agile consultancy limits their work in progress and is highly selective about the clients they bring onboard because their focus is on delivering great work, achieving objectives and goals for clients, and developing a strong reputation for competence and capability development.

So, for me, these would be the 3 red flags to watch out for when hiring an agile consultant.

About NKD Agility

Naked Agility is an #agile consultancy that specializes in #scrumtraining, #agilecoaching and #agileconsulting to help teams evolve, integrate, and continuously improve.

We recognize the positive impact that a happy AND inspired workforce can have on customer experience, and we actively help organizations to tap into the power of creative, collaborative, and high-performing teams that is unique to #agile and #scrum environments.

If you are interested in #agiletraining, visit https://nkdagility.com/training/

If you have identified the need for #agilecoaching and #agileconsulting, visit https://nkdagility.com/agile-consulting-coaching/

We would love to work with you.

#scrum #agile #scrumteam #agileprojectmanagement #agileproductdevelopment #projectmanagement #productdevelopment #agilecoach #agileconsultant #agiletraining #scrumtraining #scrumorg

Upcoming Training Opportunities

These are the next five classes we have, and you can check out our full public schedule of classes.

Live Virtual Professional Scrum Master Online on 29th May 2023
29 May-1 May, 2023
09:30-13:30 BST
4 half-days
Live Virtual Professional Scrum Product Owner online 5th June 2023
5-8 Jun, 2023
09:30-13:30 BST
4 half-days
Live Virtual PAL Evidence-Based Management Online on 19th June 2023
19-20 Jun, 2023
09:00-13:00 BST
2 half-days
APS 19th June 2023
19-22 Jun, 2023
09:00-13:00 EDT
4 half-days

We can deliver any of our courses as private in-house training over Microsoft Teams & Mural. We also recommend training based on your accountabilities or role, you can go directly to recommended courses for Scrum MastersProduct OwnersDevelopers and Agile Leaders.

Create a conversation around this article

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin

Related Courses

No items found

Read more

Martin Hinshelwood nkdAgility.com
https://youtu.be/_fFs-0GL1CA Why do you encourage people to follow a certification path in their career journey? I would encourage you to follow a scrum certification path for the same reason that people go to university. The same reason that people do any course or certification. It gets you a foot in …
Martin Hinshelwood nkdAgility.com
https://youtu.be/QGXlCm_B5zA What will you learn on the PSM II course? There are two main things that most scrum masters will learn on the PSM II or Advanced Professional Scrum Master course. That they haven’t been working effectively as a scrum master to date. That they are there to empower and …
Martin Hinshelwood nkdAgility.com
In Scrum Events across the world, I hear repeated the phrase “that’s how agile works” when describing behaviours that are both unprofessional and the very opposite of an agile mindset. These behaviours will inhibit agility and are a result of a lack of understanding of the underlying principles. We need …
Martin Hinshelwood nkdAgility.com
https://youtu.be/klBiNFvxuy0 What is the most common Aha moment people have in a scrum course? It depends on the scrum course they are attending. The content presented in the Applying Professional Scrum (APS) course leads to very different epiphanies when compared to the content presented on an Advanced Professional Scrum Master …


We believe that every company deserves high quality software delivered on a regular cadence that meets its customers needs. Our goal is to help you reduce your cycle time, improve your time to market, and minimise any organisational friction in achieving your goals.

naked Agility Limited is a professional company that offers training, coaching, mentoring, and facilitation to help people and teams evolve, integrate, and continuously improve.

We recognise the positive impact that a happy AND motivated workforce, that has purpose, has on client experience. We help change mindsets towards a people-first culture where everyone encourages others to learn and grow. The resulting divergent thinking leads to many different ideas and opportunities for the success of the organisation.