Guest: Steve Peacocke
Presenter: Toby Longhurst
Overview: Steve Peacocke, CEO and founder of DragonsArm, talks about his company and how they train people and organisations on using Agile for their business operations. DragonsArm is a team of experienced speakers and ICAgile authorized trainers that operate in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, London, Dubai, Canada, and USA.
Listen to our interview with Steve to know more about DragonsArm’s Agile courses. You may also visit their website, click here.
Guest Bio: Coming from a background of software development, team leadership, development management, business analysis, agile coach, executive leadership, project and program management, Steve Peacocke have implemented Agile practices and guided the Agile mind-shift to change a number of often average to poorly performing groups into highly productive and close-knit teams which continually add recognisable value to the organisation.
Toby Longhurst: Hello and welcome to Business Radio talkers.fm. My name is Toby Longhurst and joining me in conversation today is Steve Peacocke. Steve is the CEO and a trainer at DragonsArm in Wellington, New Zealand. I think it’s fair to say that his business is truly a global one. Steve welcome to the program.
Steve Peacocke: Thank you very much. Great to be here.
Toby: Our pleasure. Now when I think of DragonsArm in New Zealand, I think of fabulous fantasy movies with great scores and great scenery. I can imagine you with a sword in one hand going after a dragon, I’m not sure if that’s exactly what you do. So perhaps you could fill us in, what is it you do day to day?
Steve: Well I’ll tell you, DragonsArm came from my wife, she is from the Chinese Asian area where a dragon means a dragon there. Of course from my area over in Europe where my parents came from, you meet a dragon that’s the last thing you’ll ever see if you can get to see it. But over in Asia, over in China a dragon is very auspicious. You’re very lucky to come across one and if you do, you go away with power and knowledge and to give a gentle push from the Dragon’s Arm you’ll go far and that’s where it all came from, that sort of idea. Yeah, so definitely a lot better than the European dragon.
Toby: Absolutely. And what is it that you do at DragonsArm every day?
Steve: Well we train people and organizations on their migration over to ‘agile.’ You’ve probably heard that too many times and people think this either something to do with stretching and/or calisthenics or whatever but in the business world, ‘agile’ is making a massive difference. It’s a way of putting through projects, it’s a way of teamwork, it’s a way of thought and how to produce. So it’s making a huge difference to organizations around the world and it’s been out for several years.
Toby: And how long have you been involved with agile training?
Steve: Actually I’ve been involved for about fifteen to twenty years part-time and really only got fully involved in it about three or four years ago as a full-time access. The things that I’ve seen and done, “Okay, this is where I want to be. This is where I think I can make a difference.” And what I’ve seen in the difference of teams in the way they work and people themselves and how they come to work is something I want to be part of. It’s really heartwarming to see a change that happens okay. So yes about the last few years mainly full-time. Yes.
Toby: Before we started this interview, we were having a chat and I know that you’re from New Zealand but I was really impressed to learn that you’re working with customers all around the world. Where do you go out to?
Steve: Well we just announced a line up through areas in the U.S. like Dallas, Atlanta Western and Chicago. We’re putting on our two courses or more a month in Toronto in Canada. I’m about to jump on a plane in another few weeks and head off to Saudi Arabia for about ten days to do a few courses over there and I’m lining up my visa application do the same over in Dubai for a couple of times later this year.
Toby: Now I’m curious, who are you clients? What type of businesses are you dealing with?
Steve: All types of businesses. Now ‘agile’ started out trying to resolve problems with software development. Now it has moved on a great deal from that and the reason why is because it actually all started in nothing to do with software. It was the idea taken from the Toyota factory actually in the 1950s – the total change of way of working and way of looking at things. And when it was applied to software development which was failing fast around the world, software development if you went back 20 years nobody could produce anything in time. There were always problems coming up and that’s because they tried the old project management way and it’s a different way of thinking. You’re not building a solid object that you know about at the start. You’re not building a bridge that there has to be a design fully upfront. You’re creating something and as you’re creating it, you’re finding out what it is you’re creating and what is the value of it. So applying the old project management styles were failing horribly and that’s where ‘agile’ started coming to it. And what that means coming through from being a software development, my customers nowadays people like HR departments are a big one now. Huge in the HR area, they’d be able to become agile, teams of people who never even thought to have teams before because they all did something different. Certainly now getting into agile, you’ve got hot banks. Now you’re thinking banks, you start thinking seventeenth hundreds. No, actually going living into HR now as a wonderful way of being able to produce, of being able to have fun teams working on things, and getting things actually done. The value that can come out of well trained and well coached agile teams just totally surpasses any of the old ways of doing things.
Toby: Now Steve if I’m a CEO or if I’m a project manager, any manager in an organization and I’ve heard ‘agile,’ it’s a buzzword around businesses, I think this is good. I called you and I say, “Steve, you’re my man.” What’s the process? What happens next?
Steve: Well we find out exactly what your business is all about. We’d come and talk with you, find out what your needs are. What are you trying to resolve here? What is the problem you are trying to resolve? Are you just going ‘agile’ because it is a wonderful word or are you going ‘agile’ because you’ve heard all these wonderful things? The annual state of the agile report for example that came out internationally sees things like accelerated delivery, enhanced ability to mend changes, improved business IT alignment, all those other wonderful things that are coming through team morale, reduce project risk, all those things. One of those would be high on your list as a CEO and in that respect we then line up some training to go through. Now I’ve had organizations here where I’ve trained over 200 people in the organization and they’ve been trying to move towards ‘agile’ for a while but it’s not until they’ve had some training that everybody is on the same page because as you say you’ve heard of ‘agile’ before but you’re not really sure what it actually is in the end of it. And that’s probably most people, they think they know and that’s the problem. It’s not until they have the training, get on the same page, have the same language that your ‘agile’ migration accelerates.
Toby: So when when you’re working with a client, are you predominantly just there in the early stages for the training or will you they stay with them and help guide throughout a project?
Steve: Generally most of my clients already have coaches and other people going in there to help them with the migration but what we can do if need be is we work with a number of other organizations who will help the client well after we’re gone. And we are always there to come back and just be the specialists if you like but a training and coaching are two totally different skill sets and while we would love the training idea and love what it does, we also see that in a lot of organizations coaching is an ongoing situation and we will talk to and we might suggest some of the other wonderful coaching organizations available in Australian and New Zealand to pick up from there.
Toby: I’m sure there’s plenty of competition out there. I highly doubt any of them have a name quite as cool as yours but what is it that sets DragonsArm apart from the competition?
Steve: It is a cool name, isn’t it? I love it. When it was suggested to me, my first thought was “What?” and my second thought was “Well nobody’s going to forget that.” And I love the story that goes behind it but what sets us apart is that we actually do have some of the most advanced, most experienced trainers in the world just in the in the group that really want to come to us and those people themselves have called me up and said “I want to be part of this.” It’s the enthusiasm that goes behind what’s there, the story behind DragonsArm, the people that we’ve got online already, other people want to be part of. So rather than being perhaps if you like aligned to a school which some competitions might be aligned to where you go along, you get your certificate and you go away. These are people with 20 years experience and being out there, done that, actually made the horrible mistakes and can tell you about them and say “This is what what we did. What would you do in a situation like that?” And train them through the process. We come with a lot of experience to be able to talk about and work through it but when we’re training it’s not about us, it’s about how you and and we try to get you involved in that as well. And that’s the whole training idea, you don’t come here sitting there listening to us droning away and hearing and trying to reading bullet points. It’s about the experience of what you’re doing, so yes there is a bit of a difference between us.
Toby: So it sounds like you get a lot of very positive feedback. Are there any particular standout success stories you might like to share with us?
Steve: We do get a lot of positive feedback, it’s a load of fun. Although I’ve been training for a number of years, I really I put all my effort into this from last year sometime and we’ve had so many hundreds of people through accredited and not one single person, not one negative comment out of all of that. We’re pretty proud of it. I think that’s the caliber of the people that have joined us. Success stories? Yes it’s why we can go in and train and people understand that and for example over here I’ve worked for a long while through another organization, worked with with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and some of the major banks around. That was that was great, it was good. But over here I’ve been working a great deal with Statistics New Zealand and it’s not until the training comes into it that the conversations start to change. It’s a “No, I already know about ‘agile.’ I already know this. I’ve already done that.” with the obvious is that they don’t know it. They don’t really understand it and it’s not until the training happens that they start getting on the same page. The conversation is there, the enthusiasm starts to happen and they try things out and lo and behold they work – some of them. And they tried other things out and they see “Ah this is why I didn’t work. Let’s change that.” And suddenly that works again. “This is great.” The enthusiasm just goes right throughout the organisation and because there’s no longer about us anymore, it’s about them. And yes I still get calls and emails from people I had trained about three or four years ago asking questions and of course I reply and give it to them. That’s part of what I’m what I do, there’s no charge for this.
Toby: Well with feedback like that, I’m sure there’s going to be many others all around the world who would love to get in contact with you. If somebody does want to get in touch with you, how can they do that?
Steve: Well we’ve got a website there dragonsarm.com and if you just go into DragonsArm you’ve got the Contact Form on the other side. Or give me a call, there are little buttons on the website or contact us whichever there is – let’s talk, yes.
Toby: I hope many people will be calling you I would love to keep calling you and keep talking to you all night but unfortunately we’ve run out of time but Steve thank you so much for joining us today.
Steve: No problem, I really enjoy it. Thank you very much for this.
Toby: So have we. So if you’ve just joined us on Business Radio Talkers.fm you’ve just missed me talking to Steve Peacocke about creating agile businesses. The good news however is that you can listen to this interview in full on our website talkers.fm where you can also find the interview in its entirety along with the transcript and many other interviews from Australia and New Zealand’s leading business minds. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube Instagram and LinkedIn where we would really love for you to hit the like button and hit the follow button. My name is Toby Longhurst and you’re listening to Business Radio talkers.fm