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Director, Agile Practice
at Ascend Learning
Ascend Learning is a national leader in data driven, online educational solutions for learners, educators and employers in high-growth, licensure-driven professions spanning healthcare, fitness and wellness, skilled trades, insurance and financial services. We are passionate about accelerating learning while impacting job readiness, employment success and employee retention with the belief that our work changes lives.
Our culture is intentionally results-driven and selfless with a relentless focus on our customers. We believe in trust, transparency, freedom and responsibility with a commitment to meritocracy, inclusion and diversity of thought. Continual investment in our over 1400 employees is also a core principal realized through ongoing professional development and providing opportunities to grow, develop and lead. Ascend Learning is headquartered in Burlington, MA with additional office locations and remote workers in cities across the U.S. and in the U.K.
The Director, Agile Practice leads the Agile Practice at Ascend, as well as our Agile Coaching capability, while leveraging the SAFe framework. This role provides expertise in organizational change and must demonstrate experiences as a hands-on organizational change agent working across multiple teams and organizational boundaries using professional coaching frameworks and practices.
The Director, Agile Practice directs leader and team members to remove the barriers to implementing Agile frameworks by helping each organization find its own path, while leveraging common best practices. This role will drive significant organizational impact by developing strategies that transform our product delivery processes within the technology organization as well as enterprise wide. The Director, Agile Practice will also act as a people leader of Agile Coaches who are responsible for adoption of Agile practices within the organization.
- Leads the Agile Practice for Ascend and is responsible for establishing strong cross-organizational feedback loops that guide continuous improvement and adaptation of Agile practices. Brings energy and engagement around Agile adoption and excellence throughout the enterprise through tangible daily stakeholder engagement, Agile Coffees, CoP's, Lunch & Learns, etc.
- Develops the Enterprise Agile Coaches, to improve how they help Agile teams, ARTs, and Portfolios manage and optimize predictable flow of value. Builds, leads and provides role specific coaching for the Enterprise Agile Coach, Release Train Engineer, Scrum Master, Product Owner, Product Management and Platform Analyst roles.
- Partners with executive leaders on establishing tailored Agile coaching plans across different areas of the business.
- Coach and train in Lean and Agile at all levels of the organization, typically employing blend of Agile frameworks, including SAFe, Scrum and Kanban. Coaches Release Train Engineers on how to effectively and pragmatically provide team level coaching within ART for integrated planning, demo, deployment, releasing, and learning opportunities.
- Guide coaches on cadence and synchronization at the Portfolio, Program and Team Level to improve effectiveness of progress towards the iteration or increment goals. Instills the discipline within the Agile teams to commit to small batches of work, reducing feedback cycles, and adjusting to changing needs. Advises on key Iteration (Product Increment, Sprints, etc.) practices, on how to effectively and pragmatically teach teams how to break work into small features and user Story backlogs and groom for the next product increment or sprint.
- Leads the design and execution of Enterprise, Program, and Team agility health assessment and recommends development plans and roadmaps for the skills and practices necessary to improve. Responsible for the design, maintenance and continuous improvement of standard multi-channel agile training programs in support of the organizations desire to develop development as Lean-Agile Leaders.
- Responsible for maintaining and continuously evolving the suite of agile tooling & reporting to ensure meaningful standards, and information radiators are in place to illuminate efficiencies around value delivery, organizational agility, and opportunities for improvement of the agile transformation program.
- In a matrixed organization, this leader is responsible for mentoring and developing Scrum Masters that results in motivated and dynamic high-performing teams capable of collaborating effectively together, and across an organization, to creatively and productively solve complex problems in product delivery.
Skills and Abilities
- Master of Scrum and Agile principles and practices at an organizational Enterprise level.
- Proven success in process and project management in an operations capacity; track record of relentless improvement of practices, process and methods within a large organization.
- Reputation as a thought leader able to advocate a point of view, consider alternatives, and move the group to a decisive conclusion at all levels of seniority.
- Established reputation for building peer like relationships with senior leaders in a large, complex organization, and being able to communicate and influence groups with highly developed communication skills; trusted by senior leaders to provide a candid view of "what is really going on."
- Strong, documented evidence of effective team leadership and people development.
- Self-starter with superior problem-solving; analytical, follow-through and organizational skills and track record for high performance and superior delivery.
- Strong qualitative and quantitative skills; detail oriented with ability to see the big picture and to work effectively at both high and detailed levels.
- Demonstrates the capacity to synthesize complex information from disparate sources into a clear compelling story that helps the organization commit to action.
- Adaptable, flexible and able to lead/manage the organization through change.
- Strong business acumen combined with solid relationships development skills, effectively interfacing with senior leadership.
- High degree of intellectual agility to handle complex business and technical issues; inquisitive approach to problem solving.
- Superior critical thinking skills with a proven analytical business acumen.
Education and Experience
- Bachelor's degree in Business, Project Management, Information Systems or related field; or equivalent. Advanced degree preferred.
- Typically has at least 15 years of accelerated professional growth within a highly matrixed organization; a track record of increasing levels of responsibility and accomplishments.
- Demonstrated experience leading agile business transformation, scaling in agile operating model in native agile environment, or implementing agile practices.
- Has at least five years SAFe Agile Transformation experience.
- Practitioner Certified (Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC).
- Certified SAFe Program Consultant (SPC).
- Organizational Change Management (OCM) and adoption strategy experience for Agile Transformation is preferred.
- Preferred experience working with and understanding both business and IT.
- Experience and knowledge delivering solutions using various Agile methodologies.
- Experience with one or more agile tools (such as Jira, Jira Align, Confluence, and/or other leading agile tools
Ascend Learning, LLC is proud to be an equal opportunity employer (M/F/Vets/Disabled). No agency or search firm submissions will be accepted. Applications for U.S. based positions with Ascend Learning, LLC must be legally authorized to work in the United States and verification of employment eligibility will be required at the time of hire.