A nice quote from the Brian Marick’s excellent website about his approach to new consultancy projects:
“Before I visit, I have a phone conference with some subset of the opinion leaders on the project […] I’ll also have a private phone chat with the manager who’s bringing me in. The point of those meetings is to find out what people are worried about, where they see the opportunities, and where their pain lies. It’s also to start establishing a personal rapport: my consulting will be successful to the extent that I make those people successful.”
As a description of how to approach agile consultancy, I couldn’t have put it better myself. The manager – who is usually the sponsor – has a goal or objective that he or she might not want to share with the rest of the team – hence the private chat. The manager nominates which opinion leaders will participate on the conference call.
The phrase “opinion leaders” is a good one. In my experience, the people you need in that initial conference call aren’t necessarily those in formal roles, such as Team Leader or Architect. The people you in the conference call are those that need to buy into the Manager’s agenda and to persuade others to do so.
Lastly Marick makes the point, often forgotten in consultancy practices, that an engagement is only successful to the extent that makes the customer successful.