We pride ourselves on supporting clients across a wide range of industries. Recently TGG Decision Insights and Data Services Manager, Ande Olson completed an engagement with a national insurance provider supporting an actuarial transformation initiative. Below is the third part of our industry spotlight, highlighting the type of impact our team makes in the insurance industry.

Can you give us an overview of the situation and scope of the client engagement? 

Absolutely. Historically in the area of actuarial science over the last 30 years, a lot of work has been Excel based. The result is that actuaries often spend a lot of time copying work books, data tabs, and other tedious and inefficient steps. 

Our client was trying to modernize how actuaries execute their responsibilities, complete their work, and identify elements of the workflow that could be automated across the enterprise. At the highest level, the goal was to free up actuaries’ time from tasks that can be automated in order to increase the actuary team’s opportunity and ability to provide strategic guidance to the enterprise. To get there, they recognized they needed to make not only process changes but technology changes as well.  

How did you approach the work effort needed to support the organization’s goals for the project?

Actually, when I initially started working with the client I was brought in to work on a completely different project involving cloud automation and cloud tools. In meetings I learned the client was strategically looking at how the next generation of the organization would operate, with a focus on high performance and efficiency.

I offered additional support on this initiative as well because I have direct experience with the tools they were considering creating and implementing. It all started with a curiosity and desire to help the client in any way possible.

What was the work you actually did? 

The first step was working with the project stakeholders to understand the vision and help shape the path forward so we could develop a proof of concept to show that a lot of the inefficient actuary work processes could be automated. 

A big milestone in the project was when we built the back and front-end of the web application. We designed the application and I led a team actuarial developers to build the tool. 

What was the outcome? How is it helping the organization now? In the future?  

The initial release of the application is already helping actuaries efficiently valuate liabilities and assess claims impacts. Further releases will help price products and aid with long-term financial planning for the business. 

Looking at it from just a time and value perspective, the processes we’ve automated previously took a team of two actuary modelers three days each to complete, but with the work we’ve done it’s been reduced to 4-5 hours. 

The client is already experiencing an incredibly large efficiency gain, which allows the organization to more conveniently and effectively shift resources across business units when needed. As a result of the project’s early impact, we’re in the process of expanding the application beyond its current functionality, which is really exciting! 

Were there any personal takeaways or highlights?  

The work required on this project was about more than just delivering a great tool; it was about people, placing a premium on shared communication, and understanding a common vision and purpose. I was working on the business side of the organization but the engagement required a strong working relationship with IT, so building bridges and collaborating on the vision was critical for the progress and success of the project. 

Another highlight throughout the project was how we constantly evaluated, refined, and maintained an agile approach. I wanted to lean into an agile team mindset where we were continuously delivering value and iterating on the project. I think this approach was key to the overall impact of the engagement.  

– – – 

Our team at The Gunter Group has significant and strategic experience supporting insurance industry clients as they navigate transformational change. If your organization is interested in driving meaningful change in the insurance industry and beyond, we’re ready to help.

Industry Spotlight – Insurance (Part 1)

Industry Spotlight – Insurance (Part 2)


We pride ourselves on supporting clients across a wide range of industries. Recently one of our Senior Consultants completed an engagement with a large national insurance provider supporting a data integration and data vendor implementation initiative. Below is the second part of our industry spotlight, highlighting the type of impact we make in the insurance industry — featuring the work of TGG’s Frank Gleason.

Can you give us an overview of the situation and scope of client engagement? 

Frank: Our client was trying to implement a data integration and connection project, and independently started the project early last year. However they weren’t making the progress they hoped or needed, and the initiative was stalling and losing momentum. The client brought us in, stating a strategic deadline for the project. The initiative, which involved both an internal team and an external vendor, was closely tied to business objectives, so there was a high need for clarity, planning, and a detailed timeline.  

How did you approach the work effort needed to support the organization’s goals for the project?

Frank: The first thing I did was facilitate conversations with the business to identify and prioritize the actual requirements for the project and work effort. It was critical to develop clarity and responsibilities for the internal team, and drive alignment with the external vendor’s role and work effort. In order to reset and restart the initiative, and meet the organizational deadline, we had to build a focused, realistic, and accountable plan to get the project done. 

After gaining foundational knowledge about the current status of the project, it was clear to me that each stakeholder would benefit from seeing and understanding how they were important to the overall work effort and business goals. To support this I went through each requirement of the data integration with the client team and prioritized the requirements based on the best value opportunity for the organization’s strategy and timeline. From there I created a detailed project roadmap that involved the internal IT team and the external vendor team. This additional step was critical to the project because it aligned and connected the two groups that were vital to the integration’s success.  

What was the outcome?  How is it helping the organization now?  In the future?  

Frank: The client wanted to reduce the amount of time needed to onboard new customer groups’ data sets in order to accurately and efficiently begin the billing process. Previously the process was done manually, which resulted in delays. The project reduced manual steps and created a streamlined process. Additionally, the initiative resulted in cleaner reports for the client throughout the process. These reports also built value for future-state planning analysis. In the future this work will help the client scale faster as the organization grows and builds out new partnerships and onboards a greater number of customer data sets.

What did you enjoy about the work?

Frank: I really enjoyed the people I was able to work closely with from the client organization and the external vendor. It was great to have the opportunity to work with both the IT team and the business team with such frequency and help move the teams and organization towards their goal. It was rewarding and motivating to serve as a bridge, if you will, and not only focus on a single part of the organization.

Were there any personal takeaways or highlights?  

Frank: It was a great group of people and we worked hard to keep engagement high with the different stakeholders in a positive and collegial style. We maintained a great balance of a fun and timeline focused project which made the process even more rewarding.

– – – 

Our team at The Gunter Group has significant and strategic experience supporting insurance industry clients as they navigate transformational change. If your organization is interested in driving meaningful change in the insurance industry and beyond, we’re ready to help.


We pride ourselves on supporting clients across a wide range of industries. Recently members of our team completed an engagement with a large national insurance provider supporting multiple strategic initiatives. Below is an industry spotlight, highlighting the type of impact we make in the insurance industry — featuring the work of TGG’s Maddie Barbera and Daemon Heydon.  

Can you give us an overview of the situation and scope of the client engagement? 

Maddie: Our client partner was looking to streamline their organizational teams in order to better handle strategic actuarial modeling work across their product lines. Accomplishing this would also allow specific actuaries to focus on responsibilities that drive high level strategy and are more transformational to the business.  

Originally the project sponsors thought they could have internal conservations and build everything out themselves but they realized there was more depth, detail, and complexity than they anticipated, so they requested additional support and expertise.  

Daemon: The client identified that actuarial teams were each doing modeling, but the process being used in order to map out the modeling was being done differently by each team. Each of the models was also highly complicated in its own right and as a result of these two dynamics the client needed a language and continuity that wasn’t there at the time. We were focused on creating a bridge to span all the modeling teams so that anyone from any team could look at a process map and understand its various elements and information. Essentially creating a language for the organization that wasn’t there before.

What was the nature of the work that took place during the engagement? 

Maddie: We started with an in-depth review of the current process map for actuarial modeling and templates, which was supported by a series of interviews and multiple meetings for each process map model within the organization. We were at the table working with highly talented professionals to help articulate their work and process in a way that other members of the organization could understand. And then taking it a step further by creating documentation for different groups if the needed documentation didn’t already exist.

Daemon: In a very consistent manner we were gathering data – inputs, process steps, outputs, and bringing to life a clear description of what team members were doing at each step in the different processes. We also wanted to help position leadership to be able to answer the broader question, “How can we continue to use this information to make strategic decisions in the long run?”

What was the outcome? How is the end result helping the organization now? In the future?  

Maddie: During the engagement we collected and aggregated all the information the client needed in order to support their upcoming organizational redesign efforts. Furthermore, we summarized all the different documentation sources and created an easily accessible universal catalog source to centrally house necessary documents and process information for a variety of groups within the organization. These completed work streams will help position the organization to successfully undertake and execute their broader organizational redesign effort.

What did you enjoy about the work?

Maddie: I enjoyed working with the large cross section of actuaries and how it gave our team insight into different insurance product lines. It was great to be able to work with so many different members/groups of the client team and learn about their roles and responsibilities and how they impacted the organization as a whole.

Daemon:  I definitely agree with Maddie and I’d also say it was really fun and rewarding to have other groups in the organization hear about the process modeling work we were doing and then want to see if it could apply to their specific area.

Were there any personal takeaways or highlights?  

Maddie: I think a big highlight was getting deep into a multi-layered process within an organization and gaining and building trust with the client partner.  

Daemon:  Yes, and also being able to deliver something that will provide tangible benefit to the future of the organization was certainly a highlight as well. It’s always fun when clients immediately want to build off of a completed project.

– – – 

Our team at The Gunter Group has significant and strategic experience supporting insurance industry clients as they navigate transformational change. If your organization is interested in driving meaningful change in the insurance industry and beyond, we’re ready to help.


TGG Senior Consultant, Danny Quarrell recently supported a large client partner with a key Transformation initiative. Below Danny shares details and insights on how a mix of enablement projects alongside game changing Transformational projects are key to a healthy Actuarial Transformation Program.

Does transformation have to be transformational?

The biggest ongoing question in my first actuarial transformation program engagement seems like a trick question. Of course, it’s supposed to be transformational! It’s literally called The Actuarial Transformation Program.

Well not so fast my friend! 

Rather than looking at an Actuarial Transformation (AT) program as a group of transformational projects, it should be viewed as a spectrum of projects that have a range of transformational outcomes. The end goal is transformation, of course, but each project contributes to that goal in different ways. 

The projects that have the least transformative impact can often be the most overlooked and under prioritized projects in the program. Yet these types of projects are worthwhile (and even required) activities that create an opportunity for transformation where there previously wasn’t one and work to keep your community engaged. We refer to these types of projects as transformation enablers

Transformation enabler projects will typically share these characteristics.

1.      They free up time

2.     They reduce risk

3.     They are an iterative step on a path to a transformational solution

4.     They keep the actuarial community engaged in the program

5.    They build trust with the broader organization that leadership is actually committed to seeing a transformation through to actual transformative results

Before we get too far into our discussion, let’s be clear on what an example of a transformational project would be. Let’s say you have multiple groups of actuaries that rely on the same modeling calculation platform, but each team prepares their data (inforce data, assumption data, etc.) in their own way for ingestion into the platform and they each have different ways of storing outputs. Maybe one group relies heavily on Excel, another uses R and SQL, and maybe a third group uses MS Access. A transformational project might look like:

Building an enterprise-wide application that would allow each team to manage their inforce data, set assumptions and initiate model runs through a common interface and process. The application would also manage model results and provide robust tools for governance, controls, and auditing.

I think most people would agree that kind of project would be very transformational within an actuarial organization. It would reduce the time needed to prepare data and create the ability to produce multiple model runs in a shorter time frame, reduce risk, reduce ramp up time for actuaries rotating between teams, and streamline the governance process since all models would use the same processes. 

Game Changer!

These game changing types of projects are the stuff dreams are made of; they’re also fraught with risk! They take years to implement, have high costs, require incredible levels of trust and engagement from your subject matter experts, and they can sink your program when they go wrong. 

These risks are exactly the types of risks transformation enablers are meant to address. Let’s drill down a bit. 

·        Major transformational projects take years to implement and can easily lose momentum or fail to win the support of the people they are meant to help

Enabler projects can provide shorter term wins, keep the actuarial community excited about the future and help them stay engaged with the program

·        Not every team is ready to be transformed, some people are just trying to keep from sinking!

These teams need relief, not transformation. They don’t have the time to stay engaged with the solution that you want to build and release 18 months from now. Give them the relief they need, then engage them on transformation

·        Legacy processes are often fragile and have high risk. Process owners don’t want to exacerbate risk with change

Process owners for legacy processes know where their processes are fragile and where the risk lies. Iterative solutions can provide targeted solutions to these key areas. Lowering risk and the stress of owning the process.

·        Legacy processes can benefit from being improved iteratively, and stakeholders are more likely to provide valuable feedback when given multiple opportunities via iterative solutions being presented

When you present iterative solutions that start by alleviating key pain points the subject matter experts and key stakeholders are more willing to engage on further improvements and accept greater change to the processes they own. Rather than asking for trust when you promise a big benefit down the road, earn trust by presenting small benefits now.

The actual enablement projects will vary from program to program and team to team, but the characteristics will remain the same.

1.      They free up time

2.      They reduce risk

3.      They are an iterative step on a path to a transformational solution

4.      They keep the community engaged in the program

5.    They build trust with the broader organization that the leadership is actually committed to seeing a transformation through to actual transformative results. 

New organizational initiatives pop up every quarter but the surest way to achieve collective buy-in is to make the real work visible, recognized, and a focused priority. A mix of enablement projects alongside your game changing Transformational projects are key to a healthy Actuarial Transformation Program.  

At The Gunter Group our experienced team has decades of experience leading transformational initiatives for client partners. Our versatile team knows change doesn’t happen overnight and are ready to help your organization make transformational progress and achieve transformational results.  


“Expect the unexpected.” We have all heard the saying countless times not only in personal settings but professional environments as well. For an organization “expecting the unexpected” can involve economic developments, industry shifts, operational circumstances, and of course, people dynamics.  

Oftentimes these unexpected situations can involve more than one of the above categories and create an organizational scenario that is heavy on importance and light on time. 

If this sounds familiar, then you may have a critical, fast track project.

Whether you’re faced with a crisis now, or looking to be prepared for anything unexpected in the future, here are five keys our team utilizes to help organizations move forward with critical, fast track projects.

1. Work Horizontally & Vertically. Disruption knows no boundaries. Leaders who can bridge communication gaps both horizontally and vertically within an organization will break down barriers and drive focus. Consider a generalist who can bring a holistic perspective. 

2. Ramp Up Quickly: Uncertainty creates a vortex of need. Seek people who love learning. People accustomed to diving into new disciplines are skilled at the process of learning and can move from beginner to expert (or close to it!) at a rapid pace. 

3. Navigate Ambiguity. Projects that surface quickly are usually highly ambiguous. Seek people who are energized by the unknown. They have confidence from years of working in uncharted territory to know that they are capable of figuring things out. 

4. Embrace Your Culture: Your culture is the key to “how things get done around here” and when time is limited, it is important to have someone who can adapt quickly. Whether considering internal or external support, ensure they have chameleon-like qualities to reflect your company and departmental norms. 

5. Tailored Solutions. Solutions need to make sense for your company and situation. Prioritize tailored approaches over cookie-cutter solutions.  

Critical, fast track projects are a constant as organizations frequently experience disruption whether by instigating or reacting to circumstances. A strong project leader with these five traits will help teams navigate uncertainty while achieving desired outcomes.

Check out these client outcomes to discover real world examples, and see how we successfully partner with our clients to help them navigate challenges and drive toward solutions.  


We recently published a series of articles on the topic of pragmatic Agile and how its approach and methods can impact organizations of all sizes. As a way to highlight pragmatic Agile in real life practice, we wanted to provide an example of how one of our consultants utilized pragmatic Agile while supporting a client.

Senior Consultant Rob Anteau, has been working with Agile and waterfall teams for decades. Even before joining TGG, he developed a similar perspective to the implementation of Agile. Below is a recent example of an impactful Agile adoption Rob oversaw at one of our clients.

Rob was a project manager leading an effort to modernize a software platform used by the client. The project was sponsored by “traditional IT” and many leaders dismissed Agile concepts in their initial plans, nor was that even part of their culture. Rob challenged this. 

First, Rob left the Agile vocab and dogma at the door. The company culture wasn’t hospitable to the new terminology, so he didn’t push it. Rob started with a two week time-box with a planning session. The team got on board, finding freedom in the admission that they didn’t know everything at the beginning of the project. 

Next, Rob introduced a retrospective, tailored specifically to his team. He framed it as a chance for the team to learn from their mistakes and to capitalize on strengths. He led by example, demonstrating what active engagement looked like. 

This all required some heavy lifting on Rob’s part. He still had to create the 650 line project plan, and constantly translated the iterative work of his team into a report for leadership. He served as a lead blocker, allowing his team to iterate while he kept management informed. In the end, all parties were happy with the new setup.

Rob knew that elements of Agile would be helpful for his team, and understood he didn’t need to get there in one day. He took his time, gradually introducing elements and demonstrating their value. He didn’t need to act like the smartest guy in the room; rather, through servant leadership he demonstrated and cultivated the Agile mindset. As a result, his team experienced a mindset-shift, finding comfort in the idea that their work didn’t need to be perfect to be valuable. They came to see “good enough for now” as, well… good. 

This was pragmatic Agile in practice. Whether our clients need support for a wholesale digital Agile transformation or just a little help along the way, we’re excited to partner with them to meet their goals.

More about Rob Anteau:
Rob is a technical program leader who is adept at developing and executing programs utilizing agile and waterfall methodologies across multiple industries, from healthcare to the public sector. With a background in IT infrastructure, cloud migrations, network operations, and cyber security projects, Rob uses his technical expertise and business acumen to bring stakeholders together to ensure quality and timely delivery. He places importance on communication and being adaptable to a variety of environments. Understanding that there is no one-size-fits-all solution in technology, Rob is committed to delivering a final product that is aligned with client objectives. Rob holds a B.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Vrije Universiteit as well as the following certifications; SAFe 5 Agilist, Scrum Master, ITIL, ISTQB, Prince2, Six Sigma Green Belt, and TMap. Rob is a fan of the maker movement and in particular enjoys electronics projects. His other passion is anything VW related; he owns a 1978 Westfalia.


At The Gunter Group we categorize our work into four practice areas: Technology, Execution, People, and Strategy, with client engagements often stretching across multiple service categories.

Our work within our Execution Practice supports clients as they pursue large transformation programs and change initiatives, in order to achieve complex and impactful objectives.

In this Q&A we explore our Execution Practice in greater detail with Trisha Bennett, Principal Consultant and Execution Practice Service Leader.

Tell us a little bit about the nature of work TGG focuses on within the Execution Practice:

Our Execution Practice is the intersection of all our practice areas and brings ideas to life for our clients. It’s about implementing strategies and using technology to align and serve people. These types of engagements usually take the shape of larger transformation programs or change initiatives. Our clients may think of these types of programs as focused efforts that just need to be executed, but we make sure that our team is bringing a perspective for how to realize strategic objectives through changes to the people, process, and technology ecosystem of a business.  

Tell us about a recent engagement supporting a client initiative:

We have partnered with a national insurance provider that is undergoing an effort to move from their 20-year old legacy on-premise ERP to a more flexible cloud based solution using Workday Financials. Our consultants supported the organization’s business transformation by leading the program management, technical project management, business analysis, process design, and training strategy and delivery. This engagement was a great example of how our consultants in the Execution Practice used their skills in analysis and project management to make sense of a complex organizational, process, and system environment in a way that was collaborative but with a relentless focus on outcomes.  

What do you anticipate impacting organizations over the next 3-5 years in the Execution category?

Organizations will do more projects in the digital space and these projects are going to require companies to show up differently for their customers and their employees. To make these changes happen, organizations can’t work in the same way that they were working. Internally these changes impact organization structures, internal communications, HR/hiring, and work has to be managed and measured differently. 

Tell us about one of your favorite projects your team has worked on:

Working with executives in translating their visions of the digital space into executable work for the teams that make it happen. These range from creating a new customer experience for a health insurance company to standing up apps for retail sales.

More about Trisha Bennett:
For nearly 15 years Trisha Bennett has partnered with business leaders to advise and lead strategic initiatives in the healthcare, insurance, retail, education, and veterinary services industries. Her career has focused on delivering best-in-class portfolio strategy, program management, project management, and analysis. As a Practice Leader, Account Leader and Manager, Trisha leads teams of consultants to support clients, solving complex business problems. She has a proven dedication to deliver and a reputation for building highly effective project teams by seeking clarity and understanding, even in the most ambiguous environments. Trisha’s management style is focused on collaboration, transparency, and meaningful communication. Trisha holds a BA in Supply Chain Logistics and Business Management from Portland State University; she is also certified as a Project Management Professional, Change Manager, and SAFe Agilist.


Since March, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work, the way we live, and the way we interact with the world. To cope with these widespread changes, organizations have had to make tough choices and “hit the pause button”, delaying projects and strategic initiatives. 

We are now seeing enterprises reinstating their paused projects and initiatives, but in a changed world where challenges such as limited and/or remote staff, constrained budgets, and emerging competing priorities need to be factored into the mix. Organizations need to relaunch project work in a strategic way that accounts for today’s ever-changing business climate as well as the increased pressure employees are facing while navigating the complex COVID era. 

Before deciding to restart a project, consider the following questions: 

1. Are there environmental, emotional, or other considerations that should be taken into account before kicking off this project again?
2. Is the project still relevant and does it represent a productive use of time?
3. Staffing levels may have been impacted. Team members may be overwhelmed with competing priorities. Does the organization have adequate staffing and resourcing for this project or is there a need to secure outside assistance to support internal staff? 
4. Does this project provide clear benefits regardless of possible uncertainty in the future?
5. Are there risks and costs to the organization by further delaying the project? 

Strategies for moving forward

Applying a comprehensive strategic framework to think through the complex logistical, financial, and human components of the project can help an organization ensure multiple angles have been considered before moving forward with stalled projects. 

The steps outlined here are relevant for any project initiation, but it’s particularly crucial now to make sure that the organization is fully prepared to launch an initiative in a thoughtful and informed way. 

Evaluate and Revise Strategy: As our global situation evolves, public health policies enacted to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 will impact the availability of resources and timing of many projects. 

Additionally, it is important to re-evaluate the big questions—those considerations that are less tactical and for which planning is more difficult. How does this project align with the organization’s core values, and are those values changing in response to the impacts of COVID-19?

Lastly, there may be tactical components of the original project strategy that may not be conducive to a COVID-19 environment. For example, brainstorm sessions, project meetings, and testing will likely take place remotely. Timeline and toolset considerations may also need to be adjusted. 

Align Stakeholders: Even in the best of times, projects often begin prematurely, before stakeholder alignment is adequately reached. Now more than ever, it is imperative for the success of any reinstated work that stakeholders are informed, aligned, and have a renewed commitment to contribute towards the successful culmination of the project. As appropriate, leaders should seek to foster stakeholder participation and feedback in the prioritization process to align on the purpose of the project and to provide consistent messaging to employees and consumers. Commence replanning efforts by conducting a stakeholder analysis and integrating the findings. Overlooking this vital step could result in major roadblocks and setbacks throughout the remaining life of the project. 

Resource Project: The resources originally allocated for the project may now be unavailable, team members may lack required skill sets, or they may not currently have the bandwidth to contribute to another project. Therefore, the need for both external and internal support should be properly assessed. 

Recently, McKinsey & Company emphasized the need for leaders to focus on reskilling and upskilling their workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era. Companies also face a learning curve as managers figure out how to lead their teams virtually, build social capital, and maintain cohesion without the benefit of in-person interactions. As companies contemplate returning to the workplace, a new set of skills is also likely to emerge for the transition.

Sometimes a major reskilling effort isn’t feasible or practical to fill key needs for a project. In this scenario, pulling in outside expertise or resources may be the best option. Consultants are often brought into the fold of a project to fill an experience, knowledge, or skill set gap or even as an extra set of hands for a daunting effort where the organization’s future hiring picture is unclear. 

Build Execution Roadmap: As things continue to change, a well developed and clearly communicated execution roadmap will help keep the project team’s eye on the prize. The steps taken so far in restarting the project—updated strategy, aligned and informed stakeholders, and prepared project resources—are the building blocks of an execution roadmap. Identify where it is possible to include flexibility points in an execution strategy. Planning for potential changes to “Plan A” will allow for an easier path forward if additional unexpected changes occur in the life of the project. 

Employ Agile Execution Model: There’s no better time than now to embrace an agile methodology. By definition, the agile project management methodology is designed to be collaborative, flexible, and adaptable to change, and the change introduced to organizations by COVID-19 has put it to the ultimate test. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company found that companies with agile practices embedded in their operating models have managed the impact of the COVID-19 crisis better than their non-agile counterparts. 

Communicate and Engage the Org: Effective communication and engagement can be challenging, especially given the challenges of physical distance, work-life balance, and a multitude of other distractions. Project details must be communicated to the right people at the right time.

Many organizations are also at the point where employees are hitting conference call and email fatigue. Since the majority of our communications are now limited to back-to-back video calls or an ever-expanding email inbox, communications are at greater risk of being lost in the shuffle. 

Fortunately, there are many tools and resources available to help streamline communications in 2020, some of which may already be familiar and some lesser known:

– Facilitation tools (MURAL, retrium, MS Teams, klaxon, miro, STORMZ)
– Communication tools (Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts)
– Presentations & Meetings (Ideaboardz, Conceptboard, workplace, slack, Google Meet)
– Project Management (Smartsheet, Microsoft Planner, Teamwork, Confluence, Jira, Basecamp, Trello, asana, N)
– Team Building (Kahoot!, TEAM MOOD, Dr. Clue, donut)

Build Rapid Feedback Mechanisms: Integrating feedback loops, both internal and external, into the project’s workflow, such as cadences in the Kanban method, for example, offer a powerful communication tool that fosters efficient and continuous improvement through effective adaptation to the often evolving needs of one’s client. It is valuable to build a mechanism, such as frequent, effective meetings, to facilitate constant and constructive evaluation as a team.

Moving forward with grace

With all the tactical and strategic planning that is needed to evolve an organization or advance a project forward, it is important not to lose sight of the human element. The planning process should be imbued with emotional intelligence, described as the ability to appropriately apply emotion to manage and solve problems—an approach with many tangible and far-reaching benefits within any organization. 

In many different ways, it has been a challenging year and people are facing internal and external hurdles that could not have been predicted a year ago. Contributing to a project is a wonderful growth opportunity, gives people a chance to connect with their teammates towards a common goal, and produces tangible results. However, it is more important than ever for leaders to show that they care about their team.

Deeply considering the outcome of new or restarted work on employees and consumers has never been more important. Prioritizing the work ahead should consider not only the immediate benefit to the organization itself but also the benefits of doing right by the people of the organization in the long term. 

At The Gunter Group, we can help implement the project leadership and process improvement strategies discussed above. Contact us to learn more about how we can support and optimize your organization.

About the Author:
Kara is a collaborative and detail-oriented consultant specializing in project management, organizational change and strategic communications. She has an ability to jump quickly into complex situations and scenarios, which allows her to understand and deliver on her clients’ key priorities within tight deadlines. Kara is also very skilled at considering issues with a fresh perspective, allowing her to suggest and implement viable solutions that may not have been previously considered by an organization. With a diverse background in communications, marketing analytics, team leadership and project management, Kara has enjoyed bringing strategic solutions to her clients for over 10 years. She has worked in a wide range of industries for many nationally-recognized brands, primarily in the technology, healthcare, sportswear, and early childhood education sectors. Kara holds a B.S in Business Administration and Marketing from Central Washington University. She is also a Certified Scrum Master and PROSCI Certified Change Practitioner. In her free time, Kara enjoys spending time in the great outdoors with her family of four.


A few weeks ago, The Gunter Group facilitated a panel discussion at one of our clients (a global footwear and apparel company), which focused on Agile methodology application within their organization.

We would like to share a few key topics from the discussion.

1 — Implementing an Admin Week for Scrum Team Efficiency

One panel participant shared the story of her team iterating on ways to improve development velocity. They were having the common issue of missing sprint target dates and discussed the problem during a retrospective. Together, the team realized that between meeting schedules and “shoulder taps” for side work, they just didn’t have enough focused development time. 

Initially the team implemented a block of time from morning until 1pm for dedicated development. While that did increase velocity, they still weren’t where they wanted to be. 

Finally, they landed on a concept to implement an “Admin Week”. They decreased their sprints from 3 weeks to 2 and added in 1 week for admin time. This gave the team 2 weeks of uninterrupted development and 1 week to sprinkle in all of their administrative work such as meetings, ceremonies, idea brainstorming, internal documentation, mentoring, and training. 

This shift resulted in a 36% increase in velocity and 36% decrease in duration of stories from “ready” to “complete”. 

2 — Mitigating Discomfort Around Uncertainty

Another panel participant, an Agile Coach within our client’s organization, shared his thoughts around building comfort with uncertainty. 

With the timely example of COVID-19’s highly impactful effects on businesses’ roadmaps, we discussed how important it is–now more than ever–to strengthen the ability to navigate uncertainty, with an agile mindset. 

Participants agreed that we are seeing executives embrace agile thinking in their ability to pivot quickly and react as efficiently as possible. Work is being prioritized more clearly and decisions are being made at the “last responsible moment.” 

3 — Servant Leadership in an Agile Framework

Lastly, our third panel speaker shared his perspective on leading in a Scrum Master role with a servant leadership approach. 

This perspective emphasized the importance of maintaining a people focus in agile environments. Rather than just focusing on scope, schedule, budget–the servant leadership approach enables and promotes leadership in others. 

He shared his experience about working with Scrum teams in this manner and how it has built relationships, garnered trust, and fostered growth within the team.

It also sets up the team for a safe environment during sprint retrospectives so that they are able to share thoughts and feedback more openly and from a place of assuming positive intent.

At The Gunter Group, we thrive on helping our clients by facilitating conversations such as this one and invite you to reach out if you are interested in TGG hosting something similar within your organization. Please contact us if you’d like to learn more. 

To those who attended the panel discussion outlined above, thank you so much for your participation and we look forward to seeing you at the next one on June 24th!