LUKE ISBEL: AGILE COACH & TOOLING OPTIMISATION GEEK

In the early 2000s, somewhere deep in the Australian bush, I was huddled under a plastic rain cover using a pencil and paper to manually encipher my location based on a paper map. Although the Australian Army was very well equipped with technology, the training was designed to teach soldiers how to keep operating with gadgets out of action, and to use our gadgets more effectively by practically understanding what they were trying to help us achieve. 

Studying Electronics Engineering and Business Management while serving in the Army Reserve, I was stuck by the different ways three disciplines approached things. This sparked my interest in how best practice is shared, and how technology is actually used.

I started my career in electronics and software, where the engineering mindset is all about seeking the latest best practice and scientific thinking. When I moved into financial services change delivery in 2010, I was surprised at the slower adoption of the latest tech and ways of working in some areas despite the impressive resources available. It wasn’t just about the tech, or processes, or the people, but how they all came together to support continuous improvements and behavioural change.  

I joined Capco in 2018 because I had seen through my career, particularly as an Internal Auditor, that consultants could drive a different kind of change simply because of the role they held. To stretch a sporting analogy, a skilled player’s knowledge of the game could also make them a skilled coach or referee too, but they will impact the overall game differently depending on their role.

I enjoy working at Capco because my agile delivery and agile coaching work gives me the chance to continue sharing ways of working best practice. And I get to keep learning about the challenges of change in new areas, particularly as the drive to transform from project to product management means I work closely with operational teams who are new to change management, let alone tech best practice and tooling.  

At Capco we recommend purpose designed tools to support modern ways of working (such as Jira), and can help implement them by navigating vendor selection and data security approval processes. But tooling should just be an enabler for what we’re trying to achieve with ways of working that drive transparency, collaboration, communication, and accountability. Because Capco isn’t tied to particular tools, we can apply best practice principles considering the tools the organisation already has, and what would best complement them immediately and longer term. 

For example, I’m often asked to help tweak tooling being adopted to increase automated email reminders to complete tasks. I understand the desire to drive accountability, but I also know behavioural factors like alert fatigue will lead to those emails being quickly ignored. Instead, I suggest a recurring calendar invite with a never changing hyperlink to a Kanban board – which can be an Excel file or SharePoint list while waiting for tailored Jira boards to be provisioned. This gives a nudge each week to update progress, with helpful one click simplicity to act on it, all while minimising inbox overload.

It means that while waiting for the shiny, purpose-built kit to arrive, we can start practising and coaching the behaviours that teach teams the underlying principles that will work long-term. Even as the specific tools and technologies evolve, and as we as consultants move on to different projects. I love that elegant simplicity just as much now as when I was out in the bush, practising the principles of navigation with a pencil and a paper map.  

If you’d like to talk more about agile practices and tooling, or to find out what it’s like to work at Capco, please get in touch with me at luke.isbel@capco.com