5 Ways To Do Project Governance Right

Every single day, governance issues come up in our clients’ change projects. Why? Because governance is hard. It takes practice.

No one is born instinctively knowing how to effectively guide a team through a multi-year project. No matter how well you prepare—even if you’ve been doing it for years—governance is a learning process.

Plus, it’s a high-pressure learning process because in order to be successful, you have to bring together a cross section of leaders, supporters, and even rivals to make the project work. And you have to govern in public.

How to tackle it? Here are 5 ways to do project governance right:

Create an agenda for every meeting

Is the meeting agenda going out of style? Because sometimes, it seems to only live in the mind of the person who called the meeting. 

This is a recipe for chaos and resistance. When meeting participants know the plan ahead of time and can follow along during the meeting, they’re more likely to participate. With an agenda, each member has a sense of agency.

Move ahead, even when things change

Often, meetings get cancelled at the last minute because an agenda item, or the leader,  is “not ready.” This creates disruption (and perhaps even a bit of mistrust). Team members, uncertain about the reliability of the meeting schedule, may start tentatively scheduling other things to ensure they can stay productive in case the next meeting doesn’t go ahead as planned. Long term, this will keep the team from engaging with one another and will put the project mentally on hold. 

Instead, normalize change. If something has shifted and you’re unable to stick to the original agenda, create a revised agenda. This is the time to think on your feet. Find a productive discussion topic. Come up with a way to establish collegiality within the group. Challenge yourself to look forward.

You’ll need this group to engage with one another for a long period of time. Establish norms (such as meeting regularly) from the beginning to help the project team bond and get in the habit of thinking about the project and its success from the very beginning. 

Use your steering committee

Don’t forget that project governance is never done in isolation. Your steering committee is there as a resource. They’ve agreed to be involved because they’re committed to helping your team through the process. 

Use them. Get their input. Ask them to help you figure out next steps. Tap into their knowledge to establish group norms, problem-solve, figuring out how to help the group work together, and simply to help you think through issues as they emerge.

Get comfortable with vulnerability

Allowing yourself to practice governing in public feels risky. But being open and vulnerable makes your leadership stronger and more authentic. 

Do your best to prepare. When things don’t go as planned (they rarely will), acknowledge it, ask for feedback, listen, learn, and change.

Celebrate failure

Did a team member take a risk? Celebrate. Celebrate with the entire team. Even if—especially if—that risk didn’t pay off.

It’s important to recognize guts and engagement. And a time for recognition is a time to acknowledge that though an action may not have paid off this time, strong commitment is exactly what the team needs to see the project through. Then you can ask: What’s our next daring goal? 

Project Management and the Holidays

The holidays are typically a great time to get work done around the office. This is when the office is a ghost town and we get the best winter gift: time to reflect, organize, and prepare for the new year. 

This year is a little different. The office has been empty all year! Meanwhile, the home office is brimming with kids and Cheetos, ring lights, and extension cords. It feels different. So, we wondered, what should a good project manager be doing this month? 

Be proactive about managing an active project. 

  • Resource contingency. Rolling into the holidays makes any project manager nervous! If your project will carry over to the new year, then you need to plan for some resource contingencies. We all hate missing deadlines in December because our most productive analyst took two weeks off. Gather out-of-office schedules, poll the team, and figure out how to augment resources. Or…
  • Manage expectations. You may need to re-baseline your project plan. It’s always a good idea to do this at the end of a year anyway. No one likes starting a new year in the red. 
  • Give thanks. You have a job. You have intellectual challenges that keep you engaged. You’ve selected a career with lots of demand. It’s okay to be thankful for the little things. 
  • Show people you care. Gifts are nice. But so is a note sent to someone’s home, a sweet email to express a specific gratitude, or a phone call to check in and see how someone is doing. However you choose to acknowledge your team members, never assume that people know how you feel. They won’t—until you tell them. 

Prepare for the new year. 

If you’re taking some time off or if you’re not managing an active project right now: 

  • Take stock! What went well this year? What could have gone better? Write it down. You think you’ll remember it but you won’t. Trust us. 
  • Do some self-reflection. Did things go  better this year than the year before? Can you point to some specific wins that indicate growth? What were your biggest failures? Did you fail often? If so, it means you took a few risks. Reward yourself! 
  • Self-care. Take some time to truly refresh. Even in a pandemic, find a way. Go forest bathing. Get yourself to the ocean. Unplug from social media—and screens in general. Where is that coloring book you bought in July? Find it. 
  • Journal some gratitude messages to capture the wins and valuable lessons to take inventory of your key learnings this year. Journaling helps you remember what you learned and gratitude makes you humble. . 
  • Determine which areas need your attention in 2021. No matter how good you are, you can get better. You can know more. You can always learn something new. 
  • Optimize your 2021 efficiency. Configure a password storage solution. Move all your note files to a single application. And tidy up both your digital and physical desktops. It’s amazing what a clean slate can do for your productivity and optimism. 

Happy Holidays from the grittiest consulting firm in Olympia! 

Agile + Waterfall = Wagile!

A hybrid methodology for project management and operations

In the development and testing phases of the software development process, it’s important to have clear processes in place so everyone knows how each phase is moving forward and how the whole team will improve performance, manage the project and optimize operations.

The consultants at FirstRule Group are frequently asked to develop a methodology that bridges an organization’s use of the Agile and Waterfall methodologies to create and deploy project plans.  We’ve found that bridging the two creates a hybrid that combines the nimble, just-in-time efforts of Agile deployment and the linear, structured planning of the Waterfall methodology. We call it “Wagile.”

For one client, our consultants were asked to execute projects using Agile, Waterfall, and a hybrid of both. As it is with many organizations, a combination of Waterfall with aspects of Agile are utilized across all departments with only a few utilizing a pure Agile methodology for development operations and project support.

Creating a hybrid

It’s common for project teams to seek to incorporate Agile techniques, including a daily scrum, a well-scoped, prioritized statement of work, a set duration of time, and dedicated resources into their projects. Most of the organizations we’ve worked with prefer to do this within the Waterfall framework, with its sequential approach to requirements gathering, analysis, design, building, testing, and deployment. This is a familiar construct for leadership and for many planning leads.

To support both methodologies, we often design a project schedule and creation of deliverables following a Waterfall methodology and accommodate Agile techniques within the Waterfall framework.

How “Wagile” works

Here’s an example of how the two methods were applied in a hybrid model for one of our clients:

  • Sprint cycles replaced specific tasks in the schedule for the design, build and testing cycles. The schedule (work breakdown structure) indicated a sprint cycle of roughly one month with a set of deliverables. The task details for each sprint were maintained in Agile software and were viewable by the project team.
  • The project manager was able to utilize the daily scrums to manage status and easily track deliverables. In addition, the Agile software provided metrics to inform status reporting and performance measurement.
  • Design documents were translated into stories, which was duplicative, but not a huge burden since both documents were electronic.
  • All other aspects of the project, such as the communication, training, and deployment plans, change management (user engagement), and status meetings with stakeholders, were reflected in the plan using a Waterfall method.

We bring the two methodologies together in a single project management plan—a hybrid—because we’ve seen it work time and again. A hybrid model ensures that all groups within the organization work effectively toward the same goal: IT professionals adhering to their best practices while operations leaders stick to the linear process with which they are most comfortable.

In short, a hybrid helps organizations use the tools that make the most sense for their business and culture.

How ready are your stakeholders?

See how they’re doing on these 3 readiness spectrums.

On every project, the people involved in the creation of something new and the people impacted by it fall somewhere along three spectrums of readiness:

  • Technical
  • Intellectual
  • Emotional

Where people fall along each continuum can (and hopefully will) change throughout the project as people create and interact with the new product or system.

Technical readiness

Projects typically focus first on technical readiness: designing processes, testing technology, communicating clearly, and preparing logistics. Scope, schedule, and budget are all laser-focused on seeing that these deliverables are in place.

As you map out this aspect of your project, make sure your team:

  • Can track the work breakdown structure.
  • Has a way to make the project’s progress visible.
  • Can show the traceability, from requirement to design to test to deployment, on each feature.

Intellectual readiness

Make sure, however, that you don’t focus exclusively on technical readiness. Often, training tends to take a back seat. It’s typical for some resources to be devoted to training people but not really enough time or resources to ensure people are mentally or intellectually ready. When there isn’t an adequate focus on training people often “learn” only through desperate attempts to understand the technology in order to solve a critical issue.

We all admire on-the-job heroics, but the answer is not to simply put a technical change in place and expect people to adapt as they go. It’s common to provide training and information primarily to the individual contributors who are directly impacted—those who have to use the technical components or deliverables on the job. But those who are secondary, usually people in leadership roles, often only receive cursory training (if it’s offered at all) that ignores ways for them to support their team.

Here are some touchstones to make sure you have excellent training in place:

  • People retain only a small percentage of what they learn during a training event. So, in addition to a formal training, use digital tools to overlay instructions for complex tasks. These “microlearning events” or “job aids” are available to users in real time. If, for instance, they need to complete a 12-step process to add a new client to the software, a digital overlay will walk them through those steps in the moment—exactly when they need it most. as users are doing them. Not only will these embedded training tools decrease errors, they’ll improve retention and confidence.
  • Keep it short. Don’t keep people tied to the same spot for long periods of time. Create training modules that focus on single features rather than trying to run through the entire project.
  • Trainees should be able to find any answer within 10 seconds. Any longer and people will make up their own answer, process, or theory.

Emotional readiness

Few workplaces talk about emotions. Culturally, American management takes the position that the office is a place of work. Don’t take things personally! And definitely don’t tell me how you’re feeling!

Yet managers often hear frustrated team members mumbling things like “this is such a waste of time.” That is, employees feel emotions about the work they do.

Projects are pretty good at outlining the benefits of what is being implemented and try to find the “what’s-in-it-for-me” aspects too. But since feelings are not transactional, not much time is allocated to research the emotional state of all stakeholders. Understanding the emotions of your stakeholders can play a huge role in curriculum design and training strategy. It helps you tailor communication, events, meetings, and messages. And it can make the difference between a “Good” and an “Excellent” on your evaluation or engagement scores.

To ensure that you’re helping your team be emotionally ready:

  • Acknowledge and name emotions. We’re all humans here. Anger, frustration, and elation are all part of the process.
  • Develop rapport. Take time to interact informally. Plan project open houses and town halls and keep office hours. By interacting in places where the agenda is not defined, where the goal is simply to be social and check in, you build trust and encourage your team members to bond.
  • People who laugh together will have an easier time negotiating the stresses of work. You don’t have to be the funny one, but make sure to make space for humor: laugh openly and authentically when someone says something funny.

At FirstRule Group, we strive to bring people along by making sure they’re technically, intellectually, and emotionally ready when a project deploys. By the end of the effort, when those who were impacted look back at the project, we want everyone to be able to say,  “In the beginning I felt unsure, nervous, and skeptical. But as the project progressed, I became more confident, comfortable, and hopeful. Now that it’s concluded, I believe in what was done, I’m excited about what we will be doing, and I trust this new way of doing things.”

Making Data Accessible, Transparent, and Secure

An award-winning project that transformed a county’s data systems.

Years ago, FirstRule consultant Stephanie Telander started working with information technology leaders in a large, urban county who wanted to transform their IT organization and improve service delivery and the quality of their enterprise data systems. Their department was, and still is, the keeper of huge amounts of mission-critical data for the entire county. As it goes with many legacy organizations, that data had become disorganized, decentralized and governed by a patchwork of disconnected processes. Broken communication structures and the use of highly technical language made it inaccessible to users and difficult for staff to navigate.

Telander led a five-year mission to transform the service delivery culture, including replacement of the enterprise service management system. The result? Not only did the project modernize their systems and protect data, her team was awarded the regional and national Project of the Year Award by itSMF, a national organization that recognizes excellence in service management.

Telander says it was a highly strategic initiative to build the foundational elements needed to consolidate data in an off-premises cloud storage facility and to make that data usable, transparent, and secure.

“Our efforts transformed the culture,” she says. “It went from a cowboy approach to embracing methodical, reliable systems that everyone could understand, navigate, and use to make data-driven decisions.”

The risks

Before the change, the organization’s data systems had no automated or standard metrics, very little transparency, and was primarily a reactive system. The data was technologically siloed rather than customer-centric. 

The risks of continuing with the status quo were pretty high:

Technical debt. Without a significant update, systems were vulnerable to repeated outages and inconsistent service delivery. And without streamlined systems, staff were forced to come up with costly workarounds. 

Bad publicity. As a public entity, the county couldn’t afford bad PR due to mistakes, outages, or neglect rooted in unstable systems. But that’s exactly where they were  eventually headed if they didn’t fix the entire system.               

Loss of customer confidence. An inability to have stable systems and consistent processes meant that customer and public trust in the organization’s ability to be data stewards and provide quality service delivery was low.

Lack of access to data. Without a reliable data system, the organization itself couldn’t easily access the information it needed to take action so it was impossible for them to make data-driven decisions.

Loss of cumulative knowledge. Since the institutional knowledge and portions of the existing systems were understood best by older workers, the organization lost knowledge each time someone retired or left the organization. That meant it would just get harder and harder to manage these systems. 

Though the reasons for change were compelling and, indeed, looked to be non-negotiable, it was a huge undertaking that required a firm commitment. Telander and her team continually asked if these leaders had the appetite and the resources to continue. 

“You have to have a good reason why and it must be part of a strategic plan,” she says “Changing the culture is not for the faint of heart.” 

The rewards

The county said yes again and again until they had achieved a true data systems transformation. 

By the conclusion of the project, they had:

Launched a data center for the entire county, made up of several dozen departments. More than half of them opted to run their applications and store their data with the IT department. 

Become ISO 20000 Certified. This trusted, high-level certification gave the department credibility, transparency, and structure that allowed them to focus on service and the customer experience. Embracing these standards also made them much more nimble.

Developed a culture of accountability and collaboration. By mapping services, developing actionable metrics, and prioritizing coordination, they vastly reduced risks to the public, customers, and to health and social systems.

Reduction of risk and of major incidents. Once an integrated system and enterprise processes were put in place, data became accessible and secure and the likelihood for damage plummeted.

A better user experience. All services were formally identified and published through an IT service catalog on the county website. Simple graphics and descriptions now make it easy to find what you’re looking for.  

Improved metrics and navigability. More powerful systems, with better dashboards and reports, mean employees can use it more easily and leaders could make better-informed decisions.

The takeaway

Though this system was created for a large, urban county, it’s scalable–-and applicable to any organization with enterprise systems that impact either internal or external stakeholders. Any time an organization considers a project that uses IT, it’s important to go through a process like this one if you want to truly transform your data systems. 

For more details about this project or to ask how we can help your organization with a similar undertaking, contact us.

What is a project management deliverable?

A few executives lately have looked a little mystified when we mention our deliverables.

“What’s a deliverable?” they ask. We sometimes forget that not everyone speaks our language. So let’s break it down:

When our firm starts a project with you, one of the first things we do is identify the tangible documents or outcomes that will effectively articulate the health of the project to all stakeholders. These are called deliverables

A concrete list of deliverables helps ensure––right off the bat––that your entire team will be able to track and assess the progress of the work. When you complete the right deliverables at a healthy frequency, it demonstrates that the project is on track and shows sponsors and external stakeholders that the work is meeting requirements and expectations. And once they’re finished they become your project archive.

Here are some examples of deliverables we might produce for you as your project management partner:

Phase 1: Planning

Project Plan: A task plan that includes all known activities required to achieve your project scope and central objectives.

Project Charter: A detailed document that includes a budget, stakeholder management plan, and appropriate sub-plans. (More than 10 sub-plans could be included!)

Business Requirements: What specific business needs does the proposed project need to satisfy? Once you’ve met these requirements, then you know you’re finished! 

Phase 2: Execution

Project Communication Plan: Guidelines for communicating with stakeholders, clients, and team members.

Change Management Plan: A procedure for processing requests to change a project’s schedule, scope, or budget.

Application Context Diagram: A flow chart that shows project applications and how they interact with related systems. 

Interface Testing Plan: A guide to document interface requirements and testing strategies.

Data Conversion Plan: A description of the strategy and preparation for converting data.

Test results from standard testing events or activities.

Phase 3: Transition to Operations

Training and Rollout Plan: A strategy for training impacted stakeholders and converting users to the new process or system. 

Transition Project to Operations Plan: A plan for supporting your project end-state after conversion is final. 

Lessons Learned: A report that describes project results in detail, documents attainment of  project objectives, offers deeper insights, and reflects on concepts that can be harvested for future projects. 

Performance Measurement: A report that enumerates each project objective and measures results against targeted goals. 

When we’re developing a list of deliverables, it’s important to leave a trail of  breadcrumbs. If you develop and execute a project but don’t leave a record of everything you did, you won’t be able to benefit from hindsight. On the contrary, if your manager and team are diligent about record keeping you will be able to: 

  • Learn from your mistakes and your successes. 
  • Prove that you tested the solution and be prepared to use similar test scripts in the future. 
  • Demonstrate return on investment. 

And, of course, a successful, well-documented project will give you an opportunity to move ahead with other projects that will help your organization grow.

Where Does This Project Fit In?

Balancing your organization’s project portfolio.

Your organization may have 20, 50, or 150 projects going at any one time. Still, you may need to add more.

So. How do you slot a new project into your portfolio? How do you determine whether it’s more important than other projects that are already underway? What resources does your organization need to keep everything humming and to prioritize the work effectively?

By developing an intentional and thoughtful project portfolio

As leaders in project management, here’s how we help organizations do that.

Determine your portfolio’s guiding principles.

We help project managers and leaders determine which projects make the most sense for their organization.

One tool we use is a matrix that shows effort and payoff side by side. This visual tool can help an organization’s leaders define their own guiding principles and measure each project against them.

Once it’s in place and the criteria is well understood, the matrix is a simple way for organizations to measure the importance of each project and determine how it is positioned against the other organizational priorities. The ability to effectively manage a project portfolio is an important marker of organizational and cultural maturity. (Some organizations have added in a third dimension: estimating a project’s benefit to the world. It’s a thought-provoking concept!)

Identify high-priority projects.

The goal is to highlight high-value/low effort or complexity projects so leaders know which ones to focus on. Using a matrix and other tools, we help organizations prioritize projects based on their apparent relevance. Do projects align with the current organizational strategy? Have legislative changes created urgency in new areas or made it necessary to shift focus?

By asking questions like these and plotting each project against the guiding principles, an organization can make data-driven decisions – based on risks, costs, and value – rather than emotional ones.

Look at the big picture.

Once projects are prioritized, we help organizations understand how their projects are linked and how to proceed.

By developing a governance structure and strategic approach to a project portfolio, organizations can focus on the most important, relevant projects first and create a timeline for initiating and finishing them effectively.

By using a tested, strategic approach, we help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that every project is relevant to an organization’s current situation.

Hope Youngs

Client executive and chief needle threader

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration; Business Architect certification; ScrumMaster certification.


Function and Specialization
​Hope is the Client Executive at FirstRule Group. She specializes in helping companies execute on strategic objectives and loves getting things done with a rousing “heck yes!”


About Hope

​When not working, you can find Hope sharing family time with her daughters, hiking in the mountains, or feeling the wind on her face sailing.

Jarius Rice

Jairus Rice

Consultant and Partnership Builder

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Public Administration; Bachelor’s in Political Science; Prosci Change Management Professional; LEAN Six Sigma Green Belt


Function and Specialization
Jairus is an executive leader specializing in designing and shepherding organizational change and process improvement strategies. He helps clients develop strong partnerships to achieve strategic goals, maximize performance, and increase value to their customers.


About Jairus
Jairus is a combat veteran who served five years in the United States Marine Corps. When he and his wife Jessica aren’t coaching their three kids’ sports teams, they enjoy hunting, fishing, hiking, and camping. 

Shelley McDermott

Partner and Diplomatic Hostess

Education and Certifications
Project Management Professional certification


Function and Specialization
Shelley has more than 25 years of senior program leadership experience. She specializes in leading teams and optimizing high-risk, high-visibility projects.

About Shelley
Shelley enjoys cooking, remodeling projects, and spending time with family and friends. 

Stacy Steck

Stacy Steck

Partner and Illuminator

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration; Project Management Professional certification


Function and Specialization
Stacy is an expert in planning and executing transformational technology projects. She specializes in communication, facilitation, and getting things done. 


About Stacy
Stacy is passionate about fundraising and loves serving her community. She also enjoys traveling and writing.

Joanna Briese

Joanna Briese

Consultant and Project Manager

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Secondary Teaching; Applied Project Management Professional certification


Function and Specialization
Joanna is a skilled project manager and curriculum developer. She specializes in e-learning and training and has even been a trainer in the specialty coffee industry!


About Joanna
Joanna loves the outdoors, cooking, family, travel, coffee, and curling up with her cats and a book.

Nissa Burger

Nissa Burger

Consultant and Project Manager

Education and Certifications
20 years in elections managing statewide software implementations


Function and Specialization
Nissa is a seasoned project manager who specializes in all facets of software development.


About Nissa
Nissa loves summertime, cheering on her kids in their sports, and spending time with family.

Trish Coloma

Trish Coloma

Consultant and Transformation Specialist

Education and Certifications
Bachelor’s in Sociology; Project Management Professional certification


Function and Specialization
Trish is an adept project manager focused on designing and implementing governance and helping organizations manage change and improve processes. She specializes in turning vision into action.


About Trish
Trish is an avid hiker and backpacker. She’s found that just like project management, a great hike is all about the journey and good planning!

Heather Coughlin-Washburn

Consultant and Negotiator

Education and Certifications
Studied journalism and psychology; sixteen years in the IT field; Independent Validation and Verification (IV&V) certification


Function and Specialization
Heather is a senior consultant who specializes in managing complex IT projects and quality assurance. She is passionate about building successful teams and achieving positive outcomes for clients.


About Heather
Heather has a background as a professional journalist specializing in government, politics, and law enforcement. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, photography, and camping.

Lindsay Flye

People Operations Manager & Bringer of Energy

Education and Certifications
Masters of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology 


Function and Specialization
Lindsay is the People Operations Manager for FirstRule Group. She focuses on recruitment, onboarding and offboarding, candidate experience, and human resources policies and processes.


About Lindsay
Lindsay loves to read, cook, quilt, and be outside with her pup. She also enjoys traveling, time with friends and family, and game nights.

Larry Holden

Larry Holden

Consultant and Creator of Big Hairy Spreadsheets

Education and Certifications
Bachelor’s in Chemistry


Function and Specialization
Larry is an experienced project manager and analyst with a focus on finance and IT projects. He specializes in process improvement. 


About Larry
Larry loves cooking, skiing, Christmas movies, and hanging out with his kids. He is also actively involved in his community Little League.

Pamela Johnston

Consultant and Puzzle Solver

Education and Certifications
Master’s of Education in Counseling Psychology; Bachelor’s in Management Science


Function and Specialization
Pamela is a senior business analyst with extensive technical IT experience. She specializes in system integration and implementation, data analysis, and reporting.  


About Pamela
Pamela is a proud Duke Blue Devil2 who loves ballet, orchids, bowling, and line dancing. She is the mother to fur babies Dash and Valentino. 

Jessica Larson

Consultant and Project Manager

Education and Certifications
Master’s of Public Health; Master’s of Health Administration


Function and Specialization

Jessica Larson is a seasoned project manager with demonstrated skill in all facets of project management. She specializes in helping teams identify and understand problems and develop impactful solutions.


About Jessica
Jessica has visited 7 countries and 39 U.S. states and is always planning her next trip. In between travels Jessica enjoys gardening, hiking, cooking and baking, rooting for Seattle sports teams, and spending as much time outdoors with family as possible.

Lori Luppino

Lori Luppino

Consultant and Intuitive Collaborator

Education and Certifications
Twenty years of experience in IT finance


Function and Specialization
Lori is a business analyst with an affinity for change management. She specializes in IT finance, budgeting, and business operations.


About Lori
Lori enjoys live music, the outdoors, traveling, painting, and her family.

Duncan McDermott

Finance Manager

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration; Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in finance


Function and Specialization
Duncan is the Finance Manager for FirstRule Group and oversees billing and contracts and supports other operational functions of the firm. He specializes in tall orders and a sunny delivery.


About Duncan
Duncan played basketball for Pacific University and enjoys boating, summer activities, and billiards.

Daisye Ore

Daisye Orr

Consultant and Creative Strategist

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in health communication


Function and Specialization
Daisye is an experienced program leader and systems thinker. She specializes in policy development, program planning, communication, partner engagement, and working from a place of equity and inclusion.


About Daisye
Daisye loves creating art, being in nature, searching for vintage treasures, reading, and spending time with her loved ones.

Ben Robinson

Ben Robinson

Consultant and Data Storyteller

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance


Function and Specialization
Ben is a management consultant specializing in business operations, financial forecasting, and data analysis and reporting.


About Ben
Ben is a lifelong learner. He enjoys backpacking, cycling, and adventuring with his family.

Eric Stout

Consultant and Technical Make-It-happener

Education and Certifications
Associate’s degree in Computer Science; Black Belt Candidate; Microsoft Product Specialist 


Function and Specialization
Eric is an accomplished consultant with deep technical knowledge. He specializes in cross-business partnerships, IT transformations, and program management.


About Eric

Eric is a father, musician, snow boarder, and boat captain.

Laura Scott

Consultant and Team Developer

Education and Certifications
Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a major in Information Systems; Project Management Professional certification


Function and Specialization
Laura is a project manager specializing in technology projects. She is also known for creating inclusive, empowered, and high-performing teams.


About Laura
Laura is from Seattle and enjoys all things outdoors, such as hiking, snowshoeing, sailing, and gardening.

Insert Name

Consultant and Tenacious Observer

Education and Certifications
additional text about education 

Function and Specialization
additional text about specialization


additional text about the person

Stephanie Telander

Stephanie Telander

Consultant and Insightful Connector

Education and Certifications
Project Management Professional certification; Prosci Change Management Professional certification; IT Service Management (ITIL) and International Standards Organization (ISO/20000) certifications

Function and Specialization
Stephanie is an experienced project manager and business analyst. She specializes in taking complex things and making them easier to consume through diagrams, flow charts, and plain speak documentation. 

About Stephanie
Stephanie loves gardening, travel, cooking, crafts, family, and a good mystery.  

Chi Underwood

Chi Underwood

Consultant and Strategic Improvement Specialist

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration; Bachelor’s in Business Administration and Finance; LEAN Six Sigma Black Belt 


Function and Specialization
Chi is an experienced consultant focused on process improvement using Six Sigma methodologies and data analytics. He specializes in business analysis, team development, budgeting and the organizational design of new processes.  


About Chi
Chi is an avid fisherman chasing salmon in the Pacific Northwest. He is also a judge for the First Robotics competition. 

Sheri Anderson

Consultant and Chaos Controller

Education and Certifications
Project Management Professional Certification

Function and Specialization
Sheri is an experienced consultant and an effective liaison between business and technical teams. She specializes in process improvement, business analysis, team leadership, implementations, data warehousing, user training, and testing.

About Sheri

Sheri splits her time between Utah and Arizona and prefers to relax around water and in the mountains.  She enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her two adult boys and grandson.

Christy Anna Gerber

Consultant and change advisor

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration


Function and Specialization
Christy Anna is consultant with a unique ability to see beyond challenges. She specializes in  creating pathways for opportunities, learnings, and desired outcomes.


About Christy Anna

Christy Anna loves spending time with family and friends especially if that time is spent outdoors. She loves skiing, mountain biking, and fly-fishing across the West. She’s also a fan of a great book and enjoys live music.

Malcolm Hooper

Consultant and Trusted advisor

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Education; Bachelor’s in Economics


Function and Specialization
Malcolm is an accomplished consultant with many years of experience managing operations, IT, and cybersecurity. He specializes in partnering with senior leadership to advise, develop, and implement strategic and effective IT initiatives.   


About Malcolm

Malcolm loves baking sourdough bread, perfecting recipes, traveling with his family, and training for his next ultimate tournament in his free time.  

Karen Langehough

Consultant and force multiplier

Education and Certifications
Bachelor’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in psychology; Certified Master Project Manager; Certified Senior Professional in Human Resources  


Function and Specialization
Karen is an accomplished senior leader and business-focused practitioner. She specializes in human resources consulting, change management, coaching, and development.


About Karen

Karen enjoys cooking, gardening, coffee, watching Seattle Mariners and Seahawks games, volunteering through her church, and spending time with friends and family.

Susan Meenk

Consultant and Mind Reader

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration with an emphasis in organizational development; Bachelor’s in psychology


Function and Specialization
Susan is an executive leader with expertise in Human Resources. She specializes in strategic planning, leadership development, succession planning, conflict resolution, and team building. 


About Susan

When Susan is not spending time with her family, she can be found outside working in the garden, running, or paddle boarding. She is also an active community volunteer. 

Shawn Milligan

Consultant and Project Manager

Education and Certifications
Doctorate in Business Administration; Project Management Professional certification; ScrumMaster certification


Function and Specialization
Shawn is an accomplished project manager with extensive business experience. She specializes in bringing people together to make things better. 


About Shawn

Shawn is an avid international traveler and has visited all seven continents. She is also a nature and travel photographer.

Lindsey Phillips

Consultant and Intuituve Facilitator

Education and Certifications
Associates of Art’s in Liberal Arts & Sciences 


Function and Specialization
Lindsey is an experienced and versatile project coordinator known for her adept management and relationship-building skills. She specializes in spearheading projects, optimizing operational productivity, and providing excellent client service. 


About Lindsey

​Lindsey enjoys spending time with her wonderful family and two dogs, as well as expanding her skills through gardening, pottery classes, and other creative pursuits.​ 

Anne Shields

Consultant and Business Strategist

Education and Certifications
Project Management Professional certification; PMI Agile Certified Practitioner 


Function and Specialization
Anne is project manager who creates simple solutions while providing transparency into complex environments. She specializes in cross functional team coordination with multiple disciplinary dependencies.


About Anne

Anne enjoys traveling, yoga, gardening, cooking, and entertaining. She shares her Lake Tapps home with an 80-pound German shepherd-husky mix with adorably crooked ears.

Steve Smith

Consultant and Alchemist-in-residence

Education and Certifications
​Masters in Business Administration 


Function and Specialization
Steve is a distinguished consultant with experience in human services delivery, financing, policy development, and executive leadership in the government and non-profit sectors. He specializes in “How did he do that?” problem solving outcomes. 



In addition to his standing as a top-ranked volleyball dad, Steve is known for his commitment to his fellow veterans, especially as an advocate for expanded veteran housing options. He is a member of the Orlando Housing Authority board of commissioners and the managing board of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida.

Wendy Ld Helling

Wendy LD Helling

Partner and Thought Leader

Education and Certifications
Master’s in Business Administration


Function and Specialization
Wendy has deep experience in bringing complex, multi-year projects to life. She specializes in IT project management, data management, and strategic planning.   


About Wendy
Wendy loves traveling and hanging out in warm climates.