Monday, November 16, 2015

Agile and Scrum from the perspective of a Guidance Counselor at a High School

As part of my volunteer coaching for the leadership at Blueprint Education, I had the pleasure last week of being invited to a three day retreat in the woods in Flagstaff, Arizona as a guest facilitator with the High School students of Hope High School.

Hope High School Student Leadership
(c)Copyright Blueprint Education, 2015

It was an amazing experience.

It was a welcome reminder since my Flight Instructing days that young people will act responsibly if given respect and the ability to self-organize and that Scrum can be a great enabler for expanding learning boundaries and the ability to collaborate.

I present to you this report from the Guidance Counselor at Hope High School so you can hear about the event from this unique perspective.

I put some links after the letter so you can reach out or learn more if you wish.

Engaging employees in the change process can help assure successful implementation and sustainability of the change initiative. What is the best way for leaders to engage employees or other stakeholders in the change process in an organization? Why?

Hello Class!

This topic is very close to me, as my own organization is run by a group of servant leaders committed to collaboration, transparency, and transformation.  This last week a group of 20 Hope High School students, the principal, a teacher, myself, our organization’s CEO, a member of our Board of Directors, and a scrum leader volunteer left for a three day leadership retreat in the woods with the mission of developing our students to be compassionate, to collaborate with one another, to learn their own and each others’ strengths and how to leverage them, and to work as Agile teams.  It was an incredible success for the students, who exceeded all expectations, as well as for the leaders who went with them.  This is an example of how our organization engages employees and key stakeholders, from the top down and bottom up.  

There are a number of ways that leaders may engage employees and stakeholders in the change process, but we do it through transformational and servant leadership, utilizing an Agile change process called scrum that we are learning and embracing. Agile is an umbrella of methodologies originally developed for the software industry but has been branching out to other industries including education with the benefits of being customer need focused and adaptable to change, and supporting of transparent, iterative processes (Balrow, Keith, Wilson, Schuetsler, Lowry, Vance, & Giboney, 2011).  Our organization was on the brink of failure just a year ago, and the transformational processes of leaders and staff to impact culture, process, and management and engage staff, students, and leaders  have brought us to a significantly better state.  As Grand Canyon University (2012) suggests, “Although it is important to engage the stakeholder in any change that affects them, transformational change requires a major focus on and planning for a systemic engagement of the stakeholders to ensure its success” (par. 4). This is just the kind of change that is making our organization rise from the ashes today. 


Marina O'Connell, MAEd
Hope High School Guidance Counselor


Barlow, J. j., Keith, M. J., Wilson, D. W., Schuetzler, R. M., Lowry, P. B., Vance, A., & Giboney, J. S. (2011). Overview and Guidance on Agile Development in 

Large Organizations. Communications Of The Association For Information Systems, 2925-44. Retrieved from

Grand Canyon University. (2012). LDR-825 lecture 2: Preparing people for change (HTML document). Retrieved from

To learn more about Hope High School or see pictures of their event with the students, check out their Facebook page at

If you would like to get involved in helping your school to learn more about agile in the classroom, reach out to John Miller at or checkout his site at

To learn more about Blueprint Education and their approach to education, reach out at

To learn more about Scrum, click here.

To learn more about the values and principals of Agile, click here.

Mike Caspar

Passionate About Agile

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