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Leaning in to Avoid the AgileFall
by “Agile” Al Smith, Jr.

Quick Answers to REAL-WORLD Questions That Help you Solve REAL-WORLD Agile Transformation Challenges!


Before terms like “Agile,” “Coaches,” and “Product Owners” became industry standards, in the early 2000s, it was simply known as Lean Thinking.

There were rogue developers who practiced Lean in hidden corners of cubicles, referring to it as “Lean Software Engineering.” Unfortunately, many people today do not realize that Agile is not something new; it is rooted in Lean and is a distant cousin of Six Sigma. This is why Agile is based on concepts like continuous improvement, waste minimization, and value-driven delivery. After reading numerous Agile books and learning about the various flavors of Agile, there comes a point when one needs to distill all that knowledge into a digestible concept that can be easily shared and articulated to others. This is the impetus behind AgiLean (pronounced Agile Lean) – a term that encapsulates the essence of Agile and Lean principles in a concise and accessible manner.

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As an agile practitioner, I have been actively practicing and coaching teams on Lean Software Engineering and DMAIC (Design, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) since 2004. I became officially certified as a Lean/Six Sigma Black Belt in 2010, and I also hold certifications as a Certified Java Programmer (SCJP) and Certified in Risk & Information Systems (CRISC). With this collective knowledge, I have mentored and built high-performance IT agile software teams, while also improving business workflows and increasing value for organizations through the implementation of agile methodologies.

Agile Al Smith, Jr

Over the years, Agile gained more recognition in the industry, and formal job titles were developed. I collaborated with the Project Management Institute (PMI) to pilot and become one of their first PMI Agile Certified Practitioners (PMI-ACP). I went on to write one of the first PMI-ACP training books and online classes, and also assisted PMI in moving their exam preparation online by writing one of their first white-label online exam preparation courses for their clients.

In order to gain a broader perspective of the entire agile workflow, I furthered my certifications and became a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) and an ICP-ACC Agile Certified Coach. Combining all of these skills and experiences, I founded my own agile consulting business called AgiLean (Agile + Lean).

Continuously striving to improve my agile expertise, I have worn various hats within the software development life cycle (SDLC) and have found new ways to improve flow and maximize value streams. This AgiLean skill set is particularly beneficial for organizations seeking assistance with Agile Transformations, Product Ownership, and Agile Coaching on best practices and strategic implementation of Enterprise Agile mindset.

While Agile is commonly associated with IT projects, I have also applied Lean + Agile thinking and embraced the mindset of continuous improvement to patent, develop, launch, and manufacture several innovative fitness products (see below).

Although not explicitly mentioned in my resume for the sake of brevity, Agile is ingrained in my IT expertise and has been applied in all of my IT engagements since 2004. As an end-to-end Agile expert with numerous Agile and IT certifications, my real strength comes from over 15 years of real-world Agile experience.

  • Sprint
  • NASA
  • Boeing
  • GE GXS
  • Blue Cross
  • Accenture
  • ePrise Corporation
  • Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • ESRI
  • Port of Los Angeles
  • Freddie Mac
  • Union Bank of California
  • Aspen Tech
  • Mission Systems
  • Bear Stearns
  • Mass Connections
  • SAS Institute, Inc.
  • Fairfax Public School
  • Dell
  • Atpco
  • TASC Inc.
  • Concert
  • SAIC
  • Sato Travel
  • Naval Surface Warfare Center
  • US District Court
  • CACI
  • US Navy
  • Raytheon
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Instinet
  • Credit Suisse First Boston
  • Dreyfus Corporation
  • Merrill Lynch
  • Radian Guaranty, Inc.
  • Merck-Medco Managed Care
  • Prudential Insurance
  • CMP Media
  • Wyeth Research
  • Citibank
  • NIMA