At Polaris Solutions, our consultants are our business - without them, we are nothing.

Polaris Foundational Expectations

At Polaris, all of our consultants:

  • Understand and demonstrate Polaris Core Values, always, everywhere
  • Strive to meet or exceed expectations of the client and fellow team members
  • Continually improve their technical, agile delivery, and professional development skills to stretch themselves and maintain marketability
  • Actively participate in mentorship (as mentor, mentee, or both)
  • Strive towards creating and achieving challenging career goals with SMART quarterly growth rocks
  • Prioritize and participate in internal company meetings and events
  • Build and maintain strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Submit timely and accurate timecards, expenses, and mileage to enable responsible financial reporting and planning
 

Career Paths

Engineer 1: Theme is "Competence"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Assisting with client delivery
  • Actively growing by taking available training, participating in Dojos, and learning from others
  • Look for leading patterns in delivery (both coding and behavior) and seek to both understand and emulate
  • Can read an SOW and gain an understanding of scope and responsibilities as it pertains to their role on the engagement

Technical Skills

  • Knowledge of programming basics in line with an “immersion-style” bootcamp or formal education in software related field
  • Effectively uses at least one programming language, one application framework, and one IDE
  • Familiarity with the basic concepts of agile software development processes
  • Understands the basic concepts of source control and uses at least one SCM tool effectively
  • Understands basic data access and can successfully connect to and utilize an existing data model
  • Actively seeks feedback on code, coding practices, and technical skills from team members on a regular basis
  • Picks up well-defined stories requiring modifications to existing components/systems and implements them from start to finish in accordance with the team’s Definition of Done
  • Participates at least lightly in appropriate team meetings/activities (estimation, planning, retrospectives, etc.)  to seek understanding

Professional/Team Skills

  • Research and solve basic challenges and errors without relying heavily on the team
  • Works effectively with others to complete tasks given to them in a reasonable and well-communicated time frame
  • Demonstrates self-awareness of strength and weakness, and creates personal development plans to follow
  • Understands, communicates, and demonstrates Polaris Core Values and delivery standards, and can identify those behaviors in others
  • Actively seeks feedback on their performance from team/manager/stakeholder through peer reviews, code reviews, and/or 1:1s on a regular basis
  • Comfortably and effectively communicates their own ideas and solutions with their immediate team
*Cindy is an Engineer 1, her chosen Job Title is "Software Engineer"

*not an actual employee

Cindy started at her position a few weeks ago and has really gotten into the rhythm of the day. Most days are really very similar. The daily scrum is at 9am, she gets in by 8:15 because she’s taking the train in, and that allows her time to grab coffee and prep for her scrum. Turns out, she consumes about 15 blogs on the train ride in. By the time she's at work, she's already learned something new that she can use right away. This morning, Cindy is organizing her code for a bit more elegance.

After scrum, Cindy knows what she’s doing for the day. She’s helping a few teammates with some testing, and then she’s on point to solve a few bugs today. Seems like each day brings new assignments, they are typically a day or two in length, at most. This allows her to learn and get feedback on her work quickly. “Continuously improving every day” is her motto.

She’s expected to write solid code for her project and be innovating on how she organizes her code for readability. Cindy generally gets a lot of feedback in code reviews, this helps her improve her technique and craftsmanship. When she doesn’t, she explicitly asks for it. She probably learns more from her code reviews from fellow teammates than anything else.

When she runs into things that she doesn’t understand a framework, or about the business rules of a task, she starts with her team lead, or another Polaris teammate. Usually, they can help her just fine. Every once in a while, Cindy joins a meeting with one of those teammates and the client manager to uncover needs and clarify acceptance criteria. She knows that assumptions driven development is a recipe for disaster. She is not afraid to asks questions and welcomes opportunities to be exposed to new areas of software development.

  • Implements smallest pieces of functionality (<1 day), perhaps focusing on just one “layer”.
  • Should expect about a day at a time of plan, execute, test for tasks given.
  • Is expected to be continually learning while delivering.
  • Should expect code reviews to have some ‘ah ha’ moments as you learn the patterns set out by leaders.
  • Is expected to assist with development, testing, and releasing software at direction of a senior team member or client.
  • Is expected to be a productive team member in short time periods (a week or two at the longest) with support from team members.
  • Expect and seek clarifications from fellow team members on requirements that are not clearly understood with occasional interactions with business team members (client product owners, other similar).
  • Expected to ask for feedback regularly to build understanding of their performance, strengths, and blind spots.

Engineer 2: Theme is "Mastery"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Solid client delivery (effective communication, quality deliverables) as part of a team or independently 
  • Stretches capabilities through seeking mentorship and by setting and striving to achieve challenging goals and rocks
  • Mentors more junior team members in an area in which they have developed expertise
  • Supports more senior consultants with engagement planning activities (pre-sales project discovery, estimation, SOW review)
  • Owns one or more distinct parts of a project (components, features, etc.)

Technical Skills

  • Demonstrates ownership of tasks assigned to them and can solve common technical problems independently
  • Holds 100-level or higher certification in a platform and technology relevant to Polaris offerings and that if appropriate, contributes to a strategic vendor partnership (ex: Microsoft Partner competencies) 
  • Proficient in at least one relevant programming language, with a growing working knowledge in at least one other
  • Understands prioritization, asks questions when priorities are unclear, and completes work accordingly
  • Skilled in understanding basic business requirements, and translating into simple designs and data models
  • Produces realistic estimates, sets expectations accordingly, and works on creating increasingly accurate forecasts
  • Consistently delivers quality code in line with Polaris test coverage standards
  • Understands the value of good documentation and appropriately maintains documentation for their own work
  • Proactively and regularly seeks peer review on deliverables with the intent of continuously improving outcomes
  • Stays engaged and actively participates in project delivery activities (estimation, planning, retrospectives, etc.)

Professional/Team Skills

  • Seeks out and owns opportunities for lightweight client interactions (requirements gathering, sharing team status, etc.)
  • Communicates assumptions and gets clarifications on business needs and requirements to prevent rework
  • Proactively seeks feedback on their performance from team, manager, stakeholder through 1:1 conversations
  • Takes appropriate actions based on feedback to improve
  • Holds themselves accountable for demonstrating Polaris Core Values and delivery standards consistently
  • Understands and can communicate the impact of technical decisions on team velocity
  • Identifies challenging short-term personal/professional goals and creates measurable milestones towards achieving them
  • Intentionally considers the motivations of others and can recognize client office politics
*Carl was recently promoted to Engineer II, and chose the title “Sr. Software Engineer”"

*not an actual employee

When the day starts for Carl, he’s in the office by 8:30. His podcast/blogging consumption is up because he’s added a mix of leadership content too. While his career focus is technical, he understands that expectations of him taking on technical and team leadership roles came with the promotion, and he wants to be ready to start moving into that type of role on his current client. It will be in an unofficial capacity, and because he was involved in engagement planning with the team lead and sales, there was a pre-arranged team agreement that would allow for that.

Carl is working on more of the critical path areas for the project that he’s on. He takes on User Stories that are larger and more critical to the sprint goal by himself. Carl is called upon to do research on upcoming challenges or new architectural concepts to be introduced to the team, so that he can estimate effectively and set the team up for success. Carl runs his team’s scrum at 9:00am since the client does not have scrum masters, and then gets to work.

After standup, Carl takes care of a few code reviews in his queue today. They aren’t his user stories, he knows it’s his commitment as an Eng II to mentor his more junior team members and provide regular feedback on their performance, and he factored that into his commitments. He also knows that peers review helps everyone learn, creates shared accountability for quality and craftsmanship which is more important than individual productivity. His code reviews are thoughtful, constructive, and focus on helping the reviewee learn and improve.

Carl gets a call from Geoff, the salesperson over his account. Geoff received some requirements from a new prospect and was hoping Carl could provide high level estimates that morning for the proposal. This isn’t a frequent request, and Carl knows it helps Polaris secure new business and set more realistic expectations on scope, so he knocks it out before getting on with the rest of his day.

If Carl runs into something that he doesn’t understand, he checks with his teammates first. He often finds that he needs to get with the client manager or a business user for clarification. He knows how to probe for needs and translate that into appropriately detailed technical stories so that work isn’t rejected when its reviewed by the client and product owner. He received feedback previously that he was weak in this area and has been looking for opportunities like this to improve.

  • Implements user stories requiring full functionality, in full technical stack.
  • Expected to be able to handle about a 3-4 days at a time of plan, execute, test for tasks given without close supervision.
  • Are expected to have exceptional estimating and expectations management skills.
  • Will be expected to be both learning and teaching others while delivering functionality.
  • Expect reviewing of other developers' code part of your normal workflow.
  • No issues implementing software from scratch when using Polaris Clean Architecture, or other precedented project structures.
  • Expect to assist with development, testing, and releasing software at direction of a senior team member or client.
  • When requirements aren’t clear to you, you’re comfortable talking with client/business product owners always to get clarifications.
  • Seeks and gives proactive feedback in service to improving the performance of himself and his team members.

Engineer 3: Theme is "Leadership"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Establishes themselves as a strong leader within the team, regardless of explicit title or role
  • Growing others as part of your engagement through coaching, mentoring, offering candid feedback, and leading by example
  • Reduces the cost of project startup by taking on more of client-facing delivery responsibilities
  • Is recognized internally by peers as a thought leader in at least one area of technical specialty
  • Recognizes strategic opportunities and trends within the client and software industry and supports Polaris in leveraging those opportunities/trends
  • Makes significant contributions to engagement planning activities (pre-sales project discovery, estimation, SOW review)
  • Uses influence to support sales to make client opportunities within your technical specialty happen at client (moving into trusted advisor)

Technical Skills

  • Has identified at least one technical specialty and is working towards mastery. (T-Shaped)
  • Holds an advanced (300-level or higher), relevant certification in a platform and technology relevant to Polaris offerings and that if appropriate, contributes to a strategic vendor partnership (ex: Microsoft Partner competencies) 
  • Able to effectively explore, map, and model data for medium-high complexity features within small-medium size business systems
  • Provides useful design and product feedback and suggests feasible alternatives to appropriate client or internal stakeholders
  • Proactively identifies issues and addresses them with solid problem-solving skills
  • Conducts basic facilitation of project delivery activities (estimation, planning, retrospectives, etc.) in absence of an agile coach or scrum master
  • Understands industry patterns and leading practices. Selects and implements them correctly whenever appropriate
  • Recognizes pitfalls and antipatterns before they negatively impact the project
  • When something goes sideways at the client, taps into extended network of contacts/resources to resolve

Professional/Team Skills

  • Actively developing and practicing effective leadership skills through self-directed learning, and by leading/guiding others internally or at clients
  • Holds their team members accountable for demonstrating Polaris Core Values and delivery standards consistently
  • Understands and communicates the impact of technical decisions on business outcomes
  • Works autonomously and successfully in environments with a lot of ambiguity, such as during project launches
  • Identifies challenging longer-term goals and breaks those goals down into intermediate, measurable steps
  • Proactively gives candid, thoughtful feedback on the performance of team/manager/stakeholder through 1:1 conversations on a regular basis
  • Uses knowledge of the motivations of others and client office politics to communicate more effectively and influence others, with support
*Bob is a seasoned Engineer III, his chosen title is “Sr. Cloud Architect”

*not an actual employee

Bob is a capable and experienced team lead for one of Polaris’s biggest app modernization projects. He identified this opportunity during his previous engagement in an adjacent department. His knowledge of this business, his reputation as an experienced and effective Azure architect, and his relationship with senior leadership allowed Bob to get Polaris an opportunity to compete for this new project.

Bob’s days vary more than his team members’. Now 3 weeks in, Bob is using the product roadmap that he co-created with stakeholders and the feature backlog that he created with his team to ensure that expectations are managed, and high-quality product is delivered. While he was heavily involved in setting up the architectural direction and runway for the team, he now delegates much of that to a fellow team member, with some supervision. This allows him to mentor that teammate as they grow into the next architect, while allowing him to focus on maintaining the product Vision and roadmap with his business contact. Bob also knows he is responsible for making sound strategy and project decisions, and for helping the team to avoid common anti-patterns. Everyone agreed at the beginning that some things were not well defined up front, and so Bob knew that meant creating a high-trust relationship with project and product management at the client was critical. As an Eng III, Bob takes on more client interaction and team management than most to lower the cost of project startup and prevent unnecessary escalation of issues that can be handled by himself and the team. Every once in a while, Bob debates how to go on a particular technical topic with his team. He lets the team discuss and ensures that discussion lands on a decision he’s comfortable with. Bob is an avid reader and studier of management, understands motivation and can achieve buy-in on his decisions.

Once the project was a few months in, the team had found their groove with some light coaching and regular feedback from Bob and from each other. Bob had to do some serious work to establish that pattern both in their retros and in 1:1s he held with his team. He knew that kind, generous, and direct feedback could encourage more of the things we want on our teams, and less of what we don’t. Bob occasionally wrote code on the core architecture pieces, and often joined meetings with the express purpose of making decisions on evolving requirements. When the scope started to change, it was Bob that cited the issue and initiated a conversation with Polaris’s sales and the client to prevent friction or a potentially expensive conflict. Bob helped to negotiate so that additional scope and budget was added to the project, satisfying the client, the team, and the Polaris sales team. This feels like a non-event because Bob regularly works with client business and leadership team members.

As an Eng III, Bob is called upon maybe a few times a month to assist sales on procuring new business. This can include assisting on a discovery call, estimating potential projects, or contributing to a proposal or SOW. Bob’s been doing this since he was an Eng II, so needs little oversight outside of collaborating with other thought leaders at Polaris for the best approach.

  • Leads engagements and teams effectively and successfully, even in ambiguous roles and environments.
  • Takes leadership position in technical direction and strategy always.
  • Steps in as a “emergency” scrum master or product owner (or PO extension) when needed by the team or project.
  • Recognized thought leader who is capable of setting and communicating architectural standards for the project. (Solution architect)
  • Takes a leading role in feedback, both in asking for and giving. Often schedules 1:1s with team with intent to help them meet or exceed expectations for the project. Has regular 1:1s with client throughout the engagement to affirm their own performance and the team’s against expectations.
  • Understands how to use product vision and business goals and pushes back on client decisions with valuable alternatives as needed.
  • Responsible for committing back learnings into Polaris Clean Architecture.
  • Quickly earns trust with client leadership levels (Sr. Manager, Director) or above, enabling more effective engagement management and increasing the likelihood of pro-active extensions and sales of new business within the client.

Engineer 4: Theme is "Strategic Influence"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Demonstrates leadership excellence by coaching, managing, and/or leading teams that deliver exceptionally good outcomes
  • Recognized thought leadership in their area of expertise at clients and/or in the community
  • Provides thought leadership in their area of expertise to internal Polaris Sales, Marketing, and Delivery initiatives
  • Their leadership impact expands beyond their immediate team and into their clients at a cross-team or organizational level
  • Trusted by clients as a strategic advisor. Their expertise/opinions is sought out in matters of process, people, and product in addition to technology
  • Builds and maintains active professional relationships with influencers from the tech community and client outside of current engagement

Technical Skills

  • Keeps up with modern industry advances and approaches, incorporating those learnings, and teaching them to others
  • Absorbs surface level knowledge in areas outside of technical expertise quickly
  • Has achieved technical mastery of multiple languages/frameworks and has basic competency with a breadth of others
  • Exceptional problem identification and mitigation skills, solutions are innovative and consider the entire system
  • Makes, supports, and leads wide sweeping/large scale refactoring of code bases or other appropriate artifacts
  • Navigates, decomposes, and suggests improvements to large scale enterprise systems or products as appropriate
  • Actively participates in product vision exercises, and contributing to the building of the client’s product road-map
  • Active contributor to evolution of Polaris delivery standards

Professional/Team Skills

  • Manages the workload/assignments of other team members while staying conscientious of their strengths, weaknesses, and goals
  • Navigates loosely or poorly defined roles, and willingly steps into the unknown rather than shying away from the challenge
  • When faced with a skills or experience gap, sets appropriate expectations and communicates a strategic plan to bridge that gap
  • Exceptional feedback skills and discipline, both when giving and receiving feedback (always striving for 100% Radical Candor)
  • Uses knowledge of the motivations of others and client office politics to communicate more effectively and influence others
  • Understands that selling is more than paperwork and deal signing. It requires networking, building relationships, earning trust
  • Knows how to listen for pain, and then appropriately match problems to answers
*Cecilia, an Engineer IV for several years now, has the title “Principal Engineer”

*not an actual employee

Cecilia’s day often starts with a phone call. She’s talking with other Engineer and Agilist IVs about a particularly challenging problem happening at one of Polaris' clients. Cecilia established these weekly calls because she knows how important it is to maintain good customer and team relationships, and as a bonus that work results in positive impacts on the profitability of projects too. Cecilia is a strong believer in “a rising tide lifts all boats”. 

She runs multiple project teams at her own client, where she was pivotal in closing a sweet deal that puts 3 Polaris teams on-site to build out several new products that they are launching early next year. Cecilia has a lot of experience in that space at several companies. The VP of emerging credit products at This client has grown to depend on Cecelia’s broad industry expertise, and deep technical knowledge to help her solidify her proposal to the PMO. And they won! Because she knows that this client struggles with budgeting, she has also pulled in Lilah, an Agilist IV at Polaris, for an assist in that area. 

Cecelia manages all 3 teams at this client, leveraging the leadership experience and business savvy drawn from her previous clients that all required similar skills. She knows it’s not just about product outcomes, it is also about building up her team’s capabilities as they deliver, and delegating anything that would prevent her from focusing on the bigger picture. These new products will create or already have dependencies on areas of the existing systems throughout this client. Cecilia must work with the enterprise architecture team to untangle unnecessary dependencies and refactor the system as needed to ensure the client's brand is not negatively impacted by anything Polaris is delivering. 

Cecelia maintains a blog and professional social media presence – she prefers LinkedIn because it allows her to easily stay in contact with leaders from her past clients and puts her in front of potential customers as well. She also makes an effort to stay in contact with other community influencers, as her work to support the community makes her happy and has helped Polaris in a number of ways – conference participation, recruiting channels, etc. She gets contacted to speak at user groups, conferences,  and on podcasts because of her work to remain visible outside of Polaris. The increased visibility means more opportunities for Sales to start the kinds of conversations that lead to new business.  Cecelia often helps facilitate those conversations over to the sales team, so she can help Polaris grow and still focus on her love of software.

Cecilia is one of the DeFacto architects of Polaris. If Cecilia’s on a project, she’s usually the only Engineer IV on it. She is a regular contributor to the Clean Architecture project internally. She is working on understanding more business concepts and has taken a few courses on Operations and Finance to help her relate to high level leadership within our clients. She regularly meets with the C-level people at our clients and double checks that the project Polaris is building the right thing. Nothing gets by her, and her accounts rarely need much if any external management by Polaris leadership team members. Cecilia is responsible for ongoing project success. She looks at the metrics, and monitors progress from technical and project management perspectives.  She solves problems within the team and client with little to no support and is viewed as that trusted advisor by the client at the highest levels. 

Because of this rare mix of business, people, and technology leadership capabilities, Cecilia is a sought-after leader throughout the company - by sales, marketing, and delivery. Cecelia often collaborates with the Polaris LT, the sales team, her client, and her project teams to balance a number of competing priorities. She knows that striking this delicate balance will maintain her teams’ productivity, her client’s satisfaction, and Polaris profitability, all without sacrificing her work life balance.

  • Serves as solution architect and integration/enterprise architecture to the extent that it effects solutions provided by Polaris.
  • Can understand and offer opinions on the integration/enterprise architecture systems immediately impacted by Polaris’ delivered solutions.
  • Responsible for delivery and most (if not all) management of whole projects with minimal support and check-in by Delivery lead or Sales team.
  • Knows how to listen for pain, recognize and proactively manage team friction or client concerns, and give appropriate feedback and guidance to set things back on the right path.
  • Generally is the lead on a project that they are on, potentially for multiple project teams.
  • Has significant business impact at their client, influencing decisions that positively impact existing Polaris project and potential new business.
  • Active contributor to Polaris delivery standards and practices.
  • Willing and able to produce and present externally consumable content relevant to their areas of expertise in support marketing and sales efforts.
  • Understands the value of effective networking in order to build long-lasting professional relationships that benefit themselves, their clients, and Polaris.

Agilist II: Theme is "Mastery"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Supports successful client delivery as part of a larger team
  • Seeks out and takes advantage of opportunities to hone and practice skills to improve proficiency
  • Stretches capabilities through seeking mentorship and by setting challenging goals and rocks
  • Supports more senior consultants with engagement planning activities (pre-sales project discovery, estimation, SOW review)
  • Owns one or more distinct roles of a delivery team process (scrum master, product owner, etc.)

Technical Skills

  • Working knowledge of agile methodologies and one framework (Scrum, Kanban, etc.), with a growing working knowledge of another
  • Holds relevant "foundational" certification as Scrum master, project manager, business or technical product owner
  • Effectively coaches/project manages at least one delivery team on their own
  • Sets realistic expectations with the team and client, and effectively manages those expectations
  • Effectively facilitates project delivery activities in line with project role expectations (refinement, estimation, planning, etc.) 
  • Understands and effectively communicates major differences between commonly used agile frameworks (Scrum, Kanban, etc.)
  • Identifies common process/collaboration issues within their team, and bring to a satisfactory resolution with some support

Professional/Team Skills

  • Comfortably and effectively communicates their own ideas and solutions with their immediate team
  • Understands and communicates the impact of process decisions on team productivity
  • Holds themselves accountable for demonstrating Polaris Core Values and supporting Polaris Delivery Standards consistently
  • Self-awareness of strength and weakness, can create a personal development plan and follow with assistance from others
  • Actively gives and seeks feedback on their performance from team/manager/stakeholder through 1:1 conversations ono a regular basis
  • Takes appropriate actions based on feedback to improve
  • Identifies challenging short-term goals and creates measurable milestones towards achieving them
  • Intentionally considers the motivations of others and can recognize client office politics
*Amy, an Agilist II, picked “Scrum master” as her title

*not an actual employee

Amy works to serve her teams every day. She is a certified scrum master and has been scrum mastering teams at Polaris for a few years now. She is currently at a client where she serves as scrum master for one product team, although Amy has been known to occasionally support a second team at a client as well.

While she is experienced and capable, she knows there is so much more to learn. She is well versed in Scrum, and is starting to dig into Kanban, and has begun working with one of Polaris’s Agilist IVs to understand the benefits, complexities, and high level strat4egies of scaling agile. She isn’t planning on getting a SAFe certification any time soon, or suddenly moving her team to Kanban, instead this knowledge will help her to better guide her team and client through upcoming decisions they will need her support on regarding their process.

In any given day, the various Scrum ceremonies (daily scrum, refinement, planning, review, retro) are among the normal activities that happen for Amy. She works to make sure she can effectively facilitate each of these events for the betterment of the teams she serves. Preparing for meaningful planning, review, and especially retrospectives is an important focus for Amy over the course of the week to ensure the project runs smoothly and the team feels adequately supported. If she recognized any anti-patterns or “bad smells” that indicate an issue with performance or morale, she brings in the appropriate support (another coach, the Delivery Lead) to work through it with the team and/or client.

Amy reads a great deal about different ways of estimating, alternative formats for retros, and activities to help jolt the team into thinking in new ways when they get “stuck”. Amy continually innovates on how she helps her teams stay true to agile. This may include a combination of traditional team coaching, 1:1 coaching, or impromptu workshops to solidify concepts and practices.

  • Skilled agile facilitator.
  • Focusing on deepening understanding of agile by exploring additional frameworks and practices beyond existing skillset.
  • Seeks to better understand team behavior, motivation, and effective leadership through mentorship and continued education.
  • Works on behalf of one or two teams concurrently.
  • Tireless servant leader for her team(s).
  • Understands the value of giving and receiving high quality feedback and does both on a regular basis with teams and client.
  • Self aware of performance and of team dynamics, and able to adjust accordingly to the betterment of the team and engagement.

Agilist III: Theme is "Leadership"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Actively coaching, teaching, or mentoring others throughout their engagements and when on the beach
  • Is recognized internally by peers as a thought leader in at least one area of specialty
  • Reduces the cost of project startup by supporting technical leads in client-facing delivery responsibilities
  • Recognizes strategic opportunities and trends within the client and software industry and supports Polaris in leveraging those opportunities/trends
  • Willing and capable of significant contributions to engagement planning activities (pre-sales project discovery, estimation, SOW review)
  • Uses influence to support sales to make client opportunities within your specialty happen at the client (moving into trusted advisor role)

Technical Skills

  • Has identified at least one specialty and is working towards mastery of it while expanding breadth of supporting skills (T-Shaped)
  • Holds an advanced (300-level or higher) certification in a scaling framework, or similarly advanced area pertaining to business agility or organizational development. (Ex: SAFe SPC)
  • Coaches/project manages multiple delivery teams effectively on their own
  • Understands industry patterns and leading practices. Selects and implements them correctly whenever appropriate
  • Recognizes pitfalls and antipatterns within the team or client before they negatively impact the project, and resolves with exceptional problem-solving skills
  • Successfully applies agile methodology at scale using an established scaling framework
  • Creates measurable impact to client’s/team’s agility
  • When something goes sideways at the client,  taps into extended network of contacts/resources to resolve

Professional/Team Skills

  • Actively developing and practicing effective leadership skills through self-directed learning, and by leading/guiding others internally or at clients
  • Holds their team members accountable for demonstrating Polaris delivery standards and Core Values consistently
  • Understands and communicates the impact of process/project management decisions on business outcomes
  • Works autonomously and successfully in environments with a lot of ambiguity, such as during project launches
  • Identifies challenging longer-term goals and breaks those goals down into intermediate, measurable steps
  • Proactively gives candid, thoughtful feedback on the performance of team/manager/stakeholder through 1:1 conversations on a regular basis
  • Uses knowledge of the motivations of others and client office politics to communicate more effectively and influence others, with support
*Dean, an Agilist III, goes by the title “Senior Agile Coach”

*not an actual employee

Dean is an Agilist III, performing at the middle of his band. He has been in this role for several years and is right on track with his career goals. To start the day, Dean reads a number of agile blogs. He’s already listened to his favorite leadership podcast -“Coaching for Leaders” - on his way to the client. Because the field of agile is always evolving, Dean works hard to stay current. He contributes comments and asks relevant and thoughtful questions and is starting to build a name for himself beyond the friendly confines of Polaris.

In the past Dean has worked as a scrum master and agile facilitator. Dean is now focusing on building our clients’ agile capabilities through training and workshops, some of which Dean created himself. He was able to build confidence and validate effectiveness in his materials by delivering them internally to Polaris Engineers first. Dean appreciates this opportunity to increase the quality of the content he delivers to his clients, while boosting Polaris’ internal agile capabilities and therefore the quality of our deliverables as well. It’s not unusual to hear “man, Dean came in and coached the client's team on effective estimation. The team enjoyed the workshop and feel way more comfortable with the commitments they are making.

They boosted their delivered value by 20% last sprint! ”.

Dean’s coaching engagements often involve clients who have already attempted to “install agile” and have faced significant challenges, maybe even failure. Regardless of the role Dean is playing, he find a way to effect the change he knows that the team and the client needs. That sometimes requires holding people accountable and having hard conversations and Dean is well versed from lots of practice and years of self-led education on team leadership and giving radically candid feedback. Indirect leadership and influence are also tools that Dean has gotten extremely adept at using. At the same time, Dean also dives in strategically and tactfully in areas where he is a passionate and well-known thought leader. For instance, Dean is often called upon within Polaris whenever the topic of Retrospectives come up. He’s a master retrospective runner, to the point where others are always seeking his advice on that.

Because Polaris serves a number of large enterprises, Dean is also a certified SAFe Program Consultant and serves as a SAFe change agent and coach whenever he is needed. Every month or so, Dave might guest-facilitate for a Polaris Agilist II that is on PTO or lead a workshop on a more advanced topic where he has specific expertise to share. This also allows Dave to stay in connection with Polaris’ most important engagements.

On a regular cadence, Dean chats with the sales team to discuss other opportunities in the client where he’s coaching, and opportunities to leverage new content or workshops that Dean can deliver elsewhere. As an Agilist III, Dean is also called upon a few times a month to assist sales on procuring new business by assisting on a discovery call, estimating potential projects, or contributing to a proposal or SOW. Dean’s been doing this since he was an Agilist II, so needs little oversight outside of collaborating with other thought leaders at Polaris for the best approach.

  • Little oversight required to run an agile engagement, including managing client interactions, shepherding the project to success.
  • Can lightly manage multiple teams on a delivery project without significant support.
  • Works effectively in ambiguous situations and environments, and can work with client leadership and the business to reach clarity.
  • Often succeeds in working with sales at growing relationships and uncovering new opportunities at the client.
  • Supports other Polaris scrum masters and delivery team members through training, mentoring, and sharing of best practices.
  • Develops an expertise in one area, and a breadth of practical knowledge in related areas.

Agilist IV: Theme is "Strategic Influence"

Impact & Responsibilities

  • Demonstrates leadership excellence by coaching, managing, and/or leading teams that deliver exceptionally good outcomes
  • Recognized thought leadership in their area of expertise at clients and/or in the community
  • Provides thought leadership in their area of expertise to internal Polaris Sales, Marketing, and Delivery initiatives
  • Their leadership impact expands beyond their immediate team and into their clients at a cross-team or organizational level
  • Trusted by clients as a strategic advisor. Their expertise/opinions is sought out in matters of process, people, and product
  • Builds and maintains active professional relationships with influential client team members and leadership outside of current engagement

Technical Skills

  • Keeps up with industry advances and approaches, incorporating those learnings, and teaching them to others
  • Absorbs surface level knowledge in areas outside of technical expertise quickly
  • Teaches and executes on agile methodologies and frameworks that support organizational change (SAFe, Less, etc.)
  • Exceptional problem identification and mitigation skills, solutions are innovative and consider the entire system/organization
  • Makes, supports, and leads wide-sweeping organizational changes/transformations on their own
  • Navigates, decomposes, and suggests improvements to large scale enterprise systems or processes
  • Actively participates in product vision exercises, and contributing to the building of the client’s product road-map
  • Active contributor to evolution of Polaris delivery standards

Professional/Team Skills

  • Manages the workload/assignments of team members while staying conscientious of their strengths, weaknesses, and goals
  • Navigates loosely or poorly defined roles, and willingly steps into the unknown rather than shying away from the challenge
  • When faced with a skills or experience gap, sets appropriate expectations and communicate a strategic plan to bridge that gap
  • Exceptional feedback skills, both when giving and receiving feedback (always striving for 100% Radical Candor)
  • Uses knowledge of the motivations of others and client office politics to communicate more effectively and influence others
  • Understands that selling is more than paperwork and deal signing. It requires networking, building relationships, earning trust
  • Knows how to listen for pain, and then appropriately match problems to answers
*Lilah is an Agilist IV with the title “Agile Transformation Specialist“

*not an actual employee

Lilah has recently moved into the Agilist IV band and is excited about her elevated role in managing client delivery and having more direct impacts on the Polaris business through her thought leadership efforts. 

Lilah is preparing to give her third talk at the annual Agile Global Alliance conference, a national agile conference here. After her first talk in 2021 on “Scaling agile at your company with empathy and common sense” she has been asked to speak every year, not only at this conference but also at a number of other user groups across the Midwest. Lilah is passionate about pushing forward the body of knowledge of agile with other thought leaders in the world, beyond just IT.  She’s sought after by clients because of her reputation, and regularly teams up with the sales team to ensure that they organize opportunities in ways that Polaris can successfully deliver. She’s always thinking big picture. Not just “how does this help my team hit their goals”, but also considering “how does this help the client achieve their Vision” and “how does this help Polaris meet its goals” as well.

Lilah is coaching the executive leadership team within our largest client today. As soon as Cecelia helped close that deal, Lilah reached out to get an introduction to the VP and quickly established rapport and trust. This morning she plans to coach a few leaders within the organization on the concept of organizing around value, with a focus on Lean Portfolio Budgeting. She helps them to better align their initiatives to Agile Release Trains and sets up a recurring meeting with them to revisit and refine their budgeting strategy with them. This will help secure our seat at the table for future strategy conversations and minimizes the risk of poor budgeting negatively impacting our 3 project teams there being led by Cecelia. Cecelia is an Eng IV and they talk regularly to share knowledge and experiences across teams, to perpetuate continuous improvement across all clients, not just the ones they are actively on. They make quite the team out there. The Delivery Lead barely needs to think about thier biggest client anymore. It runs itself, and we know those two will alert us when it’s time to get back in there with the sales team!

Lilah holds several of the certifying body’s certifications include SAFe, and ICAgile, and contributes back to those groups. This not only strengthens her underlying body of knowledge, it also expands her professional network, makes her more attractive to clients (than someone without certifications), and allows Polaris another revenue generating opportunity through delivered training.

  • Impact seen and felt at highest levels of leadership at clients.
  • Collaborates with other peers in both tracks to improve Polaris standards and practices regarding client delivery
  • Can understand and offer strong opinions on decisions regarding the organizational systems and processes immediately impacted by Polaris’ delivered solutions and services.
  • Knows how to listen for pain, recognize and proactively manage team friction or client concerns, and give appropriate feedback and guidance to set things back on the right path.
  • Has significant business impact at their client, influencing decisions that positively impact existing Polaris project and potential new business
  • Active contributor to Polaris delivery standards and practices.
  • Willing and able to produce and present externally consumable content relevant to their areas of expertise in support marketing and sales efforts
  • Understands the value of effective networking in order to build long-lasting professional relationships that benefit themselves, their clients, and Polaris.