Larry Layton: The man, the myth, the Agile master

“We” passed the Scrum Master and the Project Management Institute’s Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP) test.

Larry Layton smiling and standing in a grassy field with a fence and oak trees in the background

And by “we,” we mean Larry Layton, our Software Development Project Manager. We’re proud of him, so we asked him what this means for himself and Braille Works. He walked into our meeting with a pad for note-taking, his textbooks, highlighted notes from test preparation and copies of his recent certifications. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. Larry comes prepared for the interview. He means business.

I see you carrying books around a folder. What is that?

“These are reference materials, all of my Agile stuff. This book is the coursework for the original certification that I got earlier this year, a certified scrum master. The book is from Scrum Alliance, and the PMI-ACP is from the Project Management Institute. Here, [as he points to a blog from ProofHub on ranked tests], is something I had researched because it lists the Top 5 scrum or Agile certifications. The first one, I took a while back, is for Scrum Alliance I, it’s shown here as #2 on the list, and my most recent certification is the PMI-ACP, ranked number #1 in the world for project management. This PMI-ACP was way more difficult than the Scrum Master certificate, and that’s why it’s more of a bigger deal.”

Agile project managers are pigs

When Larry gets skin in the game; with certifications like PMI-ACP, Braille Works gets a tried-and-true scrum master with serious project management credentials. The PMI-ACP “is an industry-wide certification. It doesn’t apply to any specific industry, so it’s respected wherever I [am, and] want to go, that needs a project manager to do agile practices. The PMI-ACP is valid for five years. If you get those, you just need to submit them on the PMI and Scrum website. It tracks those that you’ve taken, and you’re good for another year.”

How do you study for Agile?

“My number one help in all of this is the fact that I do it here every day. So, when I took the test, it wasn’t about vocabulary; rather, it was all real-life scenarios where you needed to judge the best course of action. With 120 different scenarios, and only small details differentiating one scenario from the other; I had to lean on my experiences at Braille Works.”

Getting Agile to Braille Works

When program management is agile, we get initiatives like a “world-class enterprise application for production workflow at Braille Works”. Three years ago, Larry was told that every department here is different, with clients that talk about their files differently. Still, with some skin in the game and a phenomenal team, we now have many of our clients in the app, and programs cutting down additional temporary hire costs, thanks to automation.

When asked how he would take his know-how outside of his department, he brings up his weekly meetings. In his IT Operation Meetings every Wednesday, Larry reiterates a top-down approach. That might sound like industry-specific language, but it means Braille Works will have the most influence spreading a vision across the company if we can change how things are implemented. A body-up approach, where you start from the bottom to incorporate standards based on an individual’s specific ability, hinders this approach. “It starts at the top, and that’s what we need to get to.”

Where to find him?

If you’d like to stay in the know on what Larry is up to and how he’s leading his team, he’ll be on LinkedIn soon.

“I don’t have a LinkedIn profile, but I want to have one. Getting these certifications makes me want to have one because I can put it all in one spot, and it’ll spread the word for me. I can stop carrying around these materials, and they can look at my signature [or profile].”

And what’s next for Larry? “Next, I will get my Six Sigma Black Belt certification… I love learning this stuff, being able to apply it, and seeing positive results come from it becomes fun. And my team loves it!”

This post was written by Clerise Phillip Samuel.

Originally published at https://brailleworks.com on November 21, 2019.

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