Agile Mentors Podcast

Agile Mentors Podcast

Practical advice for making agile work in the real world

The Agile Mentors podcast is for agilists of all levels. Whether you’re new to agile and Scrum or have years of experience, listen in to find answers to your questions and new ways to succeed with agile.

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#45: Overcoming the Challenges of Agile in Regulatory Environments with Scott Dunn

April 26, 2023     32 minutes

Join Brian and guest Scott Dunn as they share practical tips on navigating the challenges and achieving success in implementing Agile practices in regulatory environments on this episode of the "Agile Mentors" podcast.


In this episode of the Agile Mentors podcast, Brian and Scott Dunn delve into the challenges of implementing Agile practices in regulatory environments. They discuss the importance of finding ways to work within regulatory frameworks, building trust with stakeholders, and adapting Agile principles to fit the unique needs of the organization. Listen in to discover practical strategies for navigating regulatory hurdles, effective communication with regulators and customers, and building a culture of continuous improvement in highly regulated industries.

Listen Now to Discover:

[01:30] - Brian welcomes Scott Dunn to the Agile Mentors podcast. Scott is a Certified Enterprise Coach and Scrum Trainer with over 20 years of experience. Today's show is focused on the listener-inspired topic of implementing Agile in regulatory environments. (If you want to hear something specific, you can email us at
[02:31] - Change is hard. Sometimes you must dig deeper into the reasons for resistance, as it may not always be related to regulatory requirements.
[03:09] - Scott shares his experience working in a compliance-heavy environment, noting that the people responsible for compliance may not always fully understand the regulations.
[04:16] - Scott emphasizes the importance of researching the regulations independently. In his experience, mindset and willingness are key factors in successfully implementing Agile in regulatory environments.
[06:05] - Brian shares an anecdote about a pushback he received in a private class about whether Agile principles would work in the real world.
[07:59] - Scott shares a recent experience on a call with a Prime contractor for the government, where they discussed the government's modernization efforts and their shift towards agile methodologies. He also mentions the GSA's internal agile group, which requires funding recipients to adopt agile practices.
[09:19] - The issue of government contracts requiring specific roles rather than generalists and how this can limit the implementation of agile practices.
[10:20] - Scott discusses how contracts in government organizations can limit the ability to fully implement Agile principles and how to create change within their organizations.
[11:33] - Brian discusses the idea that a transformation is an ongoing process and not something that can be checked off as completed. He talks about the importance of continual learning.
[12:01] - Brian introduces the podcast sponsor, Mountain Good Software's Advanced Certified Product Owner course. He explains how the course can help product owners increase their confidence, credibility, and value.
[12:39] - The importance of collaboration over contract negotiation: Brian shares a story about Michael Sahota, who worked with the Canadian government on a bidding contract and revolutionized the government's fixed bid system.
[15:07] - Brian explains that while regulatory environments require more documentation, examining whether certain documentation is necessary is essential.
[15:54] - The need for empathy and understanding when working with regulatory environments.
[16:26] - Small nudges = Significant change.
[19:45] - The challenge of testing in regulatory environments, particularly regarding validation. Brian shares a story about a client with FAA regulations and how they tackled the issue, emphasizing the importance of collaboration.
[23:20] - Scott suggests a pragmatic approach to achieving work goals, acknowledging the external constraints that may prevent perfection.
[24:09] - Scott further explains that in some cases, there may be a sliding scale of achieving different levels of agility. Even small incremental steps towards agile implementation can provide benefits.
[25:37] - Brian shares what he considers the #1 win in implementing Agile into these types of environments.
[26:57] - What's possible? If you fast forward a year from now, what could be done now that gets us to the next step?
[28:10] - Think about how you are showing up: the importance of facilitating idea-generating conversations and the type of leadership it takes to start those conversations and helps make the right thing happen. [29:30] - Scott and Brian discuss the quote, "if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room," and how important it is to be around people who can push you and help you grow.
[30:52] - Join the Agile Mentors Community community to continue the discussion. If you have topics for future episodes, email us at

References and resources mentioned in the show:

Mountain Goat Software's Advanced Certified Product Owner course
Mountain Goat Software Certified Scrum and Agile Training Schedule
Join the Agile Mentors Community
Agile Manifesto​​
Scrum Alliance
Subscribe to the Agile Mentors Podcast on Apple Podcasts

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This episode’s presenters are:

Brian Milner is SVP of coaching and training at Mountain Goat Software. He’s passionate about making a difference in people’s day-to-day work, influenced by his own experience of transitioning to Scrum and seeing improvements in work/life balance, honesty, respect, and the quality of work.

Scott Dunn is a Certified Enterprise Coach and Scrum Trainer with over 20 years of experience coaching and training companies like NASA, EMC/Dell Technologies, Yahoo!, Technicolor, and eBay to transition to an agile approach using Scrum.