Crisp DNA

The inner workings of a rather different consulting company

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Building competence

As shown in Why this works, competence is crucial! If we don’t keep building competence, our model will probably stop working in the long run.

Fortunately, Crisp is built around individuals who love learning anyway, so it’s really just a matter of making sure nothing gets in the way! So we don’t have training budgets and approval processes and things like that, we just trust people to manage their own money and take responsibility for their own competence development.

The first years Crisp wasn’t even a company. We were just a handful of independent consultants that met every couple of weeks or so to trade knowledge. We tried to limit each client engagement to 90% of fulltime, so that we could reserve one afternoon every week to do presentations for each other and geek out on new technology. We called it RD (Rocket Day) for some reason. Anyway after a while we realized it would be practical to have a venue to meet in, so we rented a room in an office. And over the years we gradually morphed into what we are today – something between a network and a company.

Here are some things we do to keep learning:

  • Our bi-yearly unconference
  • Hack Summit – two days off site, relaxing and geeking out together
  • RD – a meetup where someone presents something interesting that they’ve learned recently (see above). Here’s a page in Swedish which lists the topics we talked about from 2002-2012
  • GDWC – Get Drunk With Crisp – a pub night that happens from time to time
  • Invite our favorite gurus and rock stars to come to Stockholm and teach courses or co-train with us
  • Peer-coaching workshops, where the agile coaches meet to help each other solve problems
  • Active mailing list and chat
  • Write articles and books (sometimes in pairs).
  • Create and teach courses (gives the teacher a very strong motivation to learn the topic!)
  • Pair-coach and pair-teach – lets us steal tricks from each other
  • Share all course material with each other (mostly via Dropbox and Google Drive)

Some of these forums are very active and some less so, it varies over time. But it sure adds up to a lot of opportunity to learn!

At the end of the day, though, it’s up to each consultant to reserve the time needed to learn new stuff, and not always be 100% booked up with grunt work.