Agile Open Northwest 2018

Plaster Group was delighted to participate in another successful Agile Open Northwest at Seattle center. AONW is an annual open space conference giving Agile practitioners a place to discuss ideas, challenges, and techniques.




This year the theme was “Stories Form the Frontier”  and diversity of the sessions was incredible, including topics like:

  • The Six Trumps: 6 Learning Principals that Trump Traditional Teaching. In case you were wondering, they are:
    1. Movement trumps sitting.
    2. Talking trumps listening.
    3. Images trump words.
    4. Writing trumps reading.
    5. Shorter trumps longer.
    6. Different trumps same.
  • Playing the Scrum Master of Scrum Masters role
  • Practices to Cultivate Presence
  • Agile Games
  • High Quality Software Practices
  • Kanban in a SAFe/Scrum World
  • Participatory Budgeting
  • Testing: the Impediment to Agile Delivery?
  • Coaching as Negotiations
  • The Thermodynamics of Emotion
  • Don’t Manage Dependencies, Break Them
  • Being Agile but Pretending to do Waterfall
  • Working with Offshore and Other Remote Teams
  • Self-organization vs. Self-management

Numerous and detailed session notes inclusive of photos can be found here. Keep an eye out for next year’s registration as attendance is limited to keep this conference intimate!


Are you an Agile practitioner looking for new career opportunities? Our Agile consulting practice is growing, and Plaster Group is one of Washington’s Best Places to Work!




Plaster Group’s multi-talented Sr. Agile Consultant Aki Namioka co-chaired Agile Open Northwest this year, in addition to hosting a wonderful music session. 

Upcoming Seattle Conference: AONW 2018

Plaster Group is again proud to sponsor Agile Open NW. And, Plaster Group Agile consultant Aki Namioka is co-chairing this conference. Look for us at our table Feb 5-7th at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall! Find out more about this year’s Seattle conference.

Plaster Group Attends Start-Up Seattle

Plaster Group’s Joe Wilson and Brian Decker attended “Start-Up Seattle: Lessons Learned from the Seattle 10” last night at MOHAI.  It was a panel event lead by John Cook, co-founder of GeekWire.  The audience received raw advice from Seattle Start-Up leaders Chase Jarvis (CreativeLive), Kristen Hamilton (Koru), Avni Patel Thompson, and Mike McSherry.

Some of our favorite quotes included:

  • “Do you have ambition?”
  • “If it’s not keeping you up at night, it might not be worth doing.”
  • “Raise your money in the valley and build your business in Seattle.”
  • “Sell with your heart, not with your head.”

Did you attend last night’s event?  What were your key takeaways?


Supply Chain Social at Seapine Brewing

Plaster Group’s Supply Chain Social group hosted its first meetup of the new year at Seapine Brewing Company in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood.  We had great conversation about supply chain maturity, aligning certification content with university coursework and of course, Blockchain and Hashgraph!

We look forward to seeing many more join us for our next event on Feb 13 at the Shelter Lounge in Greenlake! Meetup RSVP here.

Tedx Seattle

Last month, nearly 2,900 people packed into McCaw Hall at the Seattle Center to discuss how Seattle is growing and evolving.  The event was the 8th annual TEDx Seattle.  The theme of this year’s TEDx was “Changing Places” to represent the cultural, economic, and physical changes that the city has been experiencing and what others are doing to shape these changes for a positive future.  The day was segmented into four parts; 1) Changing the Game 2) Changing the Future 3) Changing the Intolerable 4) Changing the Human Spirit. If you weren’t able to make it, check out some videos of featured talks here. Topics include: How architectural design affects your brain, bio-inspired engineering, and asteroid/space exploration for resources.

Plaster Group continues to remain active in the community by contributing both time and financial support to over twenty charities in the local area.  As part of our 3-C’s philosophy (Clients, Consultants and Community), we believe our community improves with business partners who continuously engage with the intent to contribute to the betterment of society.  Alyssa Palmer represented Plaster Group at this years event building on our engagement with the Seattle community in addition to our work with Northwest Harvest and Roots.   As we continue to grow, we are harnessing the momentum of our commitments in the hopes of setting a new standard for the way business should be done.

Plaster Group is Seattle based consulting firm built on the principle of local talent for local businesses. If you’re a local business looking to discuss further the challenges you are facing in an ever-changing Seattle, contact Plaster Group today!

2017 Rise Up Dinner – ROOTS Young Adult Shelter

Plaster Group is honored to have sponsored Seattle’s ROOTS Young Adult Shelter fundraiser Rise Up for the 5th year running, celebrating ROOTS’ anniversary as an 18 year-old organization.

It has been wonderful to watch this event grow from its inauguration.  In the face of rising concerns over Seattle’s homeless crisis, it is incredibly important to support organizations like Roots. Please visit the ROOTS website to find out more about how you can volunteer or contribute in other ways.


Check out ROOTS’ Impact

  • It takes $86 in resources to host a guest for a night – but $44 is covered by in-kind donated food and labor
  • 32,400 hours of labor are donated annually for Friday Feast and shelter by ROOTS volunteers
  • ROOTS Supplies 16,000 “bednights” or stays by young people every year
  • 92% of young people without stable housing polled during the 2017 “Count Us In” survey identified employment as their top goal
  • ROOTS washes 2,300 loads of guest laundry and provides 8,600 showers annually

Do you have any Items on ROOTS’ Wishlist?

  • Full-size bath towels
  • Nail clippers
  • Boxer shorts, undershirts, socks (new)

Plaster Group Book Club – Getting Naked, a Business Fable

by Mike Fernandez, Sr. Business Intelligence Consultant

Book Overview

In “Getting Naked”, Patrick Lencioni presents a consulting approach that maximizes value to the client while emphasizing the role of a consultant as a true servant to the client company. He does this by relating a story of how Jack, a senior consultant at Kendrick and Black (K&B), is pushed into a completely different company culture at K&H’s recently acquired company Lighthouse Partners (Lighthouse).  Jack has had a somewhat adversarial relationship with Lighthouse in the past and he is not initially interested in learning about or applying their methods.

During the story, Jack is exposed directly to the way that Lighthouse works and the attitudes that their consultants bring to their clients, an approach developed over time through discussion, observation and application.  Jack’s journey is not an academic one – his insight and growth come from working with Lighthouse consultants at client sites and from personal experience.  At one point, he has several “teachable moments” as he leads a project using the Lighthouse approach.  Jack goes from a biased outsider to a full participant – and as he progresses, he learns to appreciate the results of the different approach. As a result of his new knowledge and viewpoint, Jack creates a model for the methodology and approach.  He then has the opportunity to present this model to colleagues at K&H and gains some converts along the way.

So, what does Jack learn?  The final section is devoted to an overview of the model that’s used by the author’s real-life consulting company, which he calls the Three Fears.   These are available in graphic form at Patrick’s website (linked at the end of the article).  Simply reading the list can provide some info, but the true value comes from reading about Jack’s journey –  which provides the necessary context to truly understand the reasoning and value behind this approach.  That said, here are the primary points of the model…

The Model

The Three Fears and strategies to avoid them:

1) Fear of Losing the Business – the customer needs to know that we’re there to help them; avoid making our primary goal maintaining or increasing our revenue stream

  • Always consult instead of sell
  • Give away the business
  • Tell the kind truth
  • Enter the danger

2) Fear of Being Embarrassed – avoid letting a lack of complete expertise in a client’s business or scenario result in not finding and following important but perhaps not obvious information

  • Ask dumb questions
  • Make dumb suggestions
  • Celebrate your mistakes

3) Fear of Feeling Inferior – don’t allow the need to be an “important consultant”, with certain role and duty expectations, override service to the client and acting in the client’s best interest

  • Take a bullet for the client
  • Make everything about the client
  • Honor the client’s work
  • Do the dirty work

A mindset that will help with all of the above is to always be willing to admit your weaknesses and limitations.

The Reviewer’s Experience

I found the book to have a strong message worth examining by the modern consultant – that as consultants, our purpose and focus should be on the client and what helps them.  Following this approach may take us out of our comfort zones, but a quality and appreciative client can be our best advocate.

For those having difficulty with the idea of not selling their services, the story relates that having happy clients can be the best source of new clients – and that by focusing on consulting directly with the client, rather than spending time on sales, “Those clients in turn became a sales engine for the firm…and it was references from clients that shortened the sales cycle considerably.”  Jack’s chapter titled “The First Fear” explains that “…It’s about building trust.  And in the end, that means the client trusts them and takes care of them.”

I find the second fear to be a challenge – as a consultant, not being the expert in everything.  Although not my first inclination, the times I have stepped back and asked the basic questions about specifics or situations , I was rewarded with a better understanding and with an excellent relationship with my client.  This chapter provided even greater incentive to continue doing this.

The third fear, as the book notes, can be a subtle variation on the second fear, but it is different.  The third fear relates to doing what needs to be done, regardless of what type of task or role it requires.  My experience, like the author’s experience, is that doing some things not normally associated with the role of “Consultant” has been more instrumental in moving projects and deliverables forward than other more “high level” activities – at the right times.

I feel that this book will provide insight to a different approach that can help consultants and non-consultants build better professional relationships.  This book can get you started, but as they point out, “…there is a big difference between understanding something and putting it into practice.”

Interested in learning more? Pat’s website contains information on this book and others.


Plaster Group Volunteer Day – Q3 2017

One of the most popular suggestions to improve our workplace environment on last year’s employee satisfaction survey? That Plaster Group should volunteer our time somewhere as a team. So we took our consultants up on their suggestion and did just that.

Did you know 1 in 5 Washingtonians relies on their local food bank? This Saturday, Plaster Group consultants and their families were warmly welcomed by Northwest Harvest, the only nonprofit food bank distributor operating statewide in Washington. With a network of 375 food banks, Northwest Harvest is able to feed a family of three a nutritional meal with only 67 cents due to the work provided by volunteers. We had a great time getting a mountain of beans packaged through coordination and teamwork!

Plaster Group is one of Washington’s Best Places to Work!

Plaster Group has been a finalist on the Puget Sound Business Journal’s WA Best Places to Work three times, and last Thursday we were recognized as the second best medium-sized company to work for in Washington. We are very proud of this distinction as we consistently seek to serve our Consultants, our Clients, and the Community. Read more about why we are one Washington’s Best Places to Work here