Introducing a New Era at Mountain Goat Software

Today’s post is a bit different to what we normally publish here. It’s part confession, and part announcement of a new era at Mountain Goat Software (that I’m very excited about).

It’s no secret that I’m driven to help people succeed with agile. For the past 16 years, I’ve averaged 24 weeks a year delivering training and helping clients. It’s not always easy traveling that much. I miss my family, I’ve missed the occasional birthday, and I’ve had more flight delays than I’d like to remember.

But I’ve always found the experience worthwhile. Meeting people who are passionate about agile and helping them grow their confidence and skills is rewarding. And even though I was teaching many classes, I wasn’t teaching as many as I wanted to.

I told myself that as much as I would love to reach more people and run classes in more locations it simply was not possible. I just didn’t have the time.

But every time I turned down the request to run a class in a new location or joked that I’d be there once I knew how to clone myself, something didn’t sit right.

I’m proud of the materials I teach in my classes, and I’ve listened to feedback from thousands of attendees to refine what I do. Trying new things, updating details, and making sure that each exercise and example is engaging (and most importantly, helps people learn).

I never imagined I’d trust another trainer to deliver them.

Over the years I’d convinced myself that:

  • I can’t physically visit every possible location
  • It’s too risky to use another trainer to deliver my material
  • People will be disappointed if it’s not me

Time for the confession part.

While I believe these things were true early on in my teaching career, they’re no longer true today. In fact, if I’m really honest, they may not have been true for a while. It’s just that I’d been telling myself for so many years that there was no way to solve the problem, I never looked for a solution.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve had to do a lot of fresh thinking about how we deliver our materials recently, and during this time I realized I’d been holding onto some beliefs that weren’t helping me achieve my true goal of not just helping people ‘succeed with agile’ but helping as many people as possible succeed with agile.

Turns out I needed to take my own advice and Let Go of Knowing.

When I did that, here’s what I learned about those beliefs I’d held onto for so long:

1. I can’t physically visit every possible location - IRRELEVANT

I still have not worked out how to clone myself so yes, physically I cannot visit everywhere I want to.

But virtual training has changed all that.

A few years ago no-one would have sat through a two-day course translated into an online session. It would have been a miserable experience.

But with the sophistication of today’s technology and connectivity, learning online isn’t just possible, it’s a fun experience.

We’ve been running our virtual courses now since March and received overwhelming feedback. And we’ve been able to reach more locations than I could have ever possibly done in person. So while the belief is technically true, it’s no longer relevant.

2. It’s too risky to use another trainer to deliver my materials - FALSE

Ten years ago, I didn’t know the people I know today and in that time I’ve developed great relationships with some excellent trainers.

Not only that, but my materials are more robust, thoroughly tested in the trenches, and no longer rely on me personally for them to succeed.

How do I know?

In all our virtual classes we’re using my materials with live facilitation from one of the below trainers.

And they’re doing a great job (see more below).

3. People will be disappointed if it’s not me - FALSE (unfortunately)

This was the hardest one to let go.

But I have to because it’s been proven beyond a doubt that it’s no longer true.

I’m going to introduce you shortly to our new team of trainers. People are already saying great things about them. And if you choose one of their classes, I know you’ll enjoy learning from them as well.

So with those beliefs debunked - what does that mean?

I’m going to be teaching even more than before...

By letting trainers I trust run virtual classes for Mountain Goat Software, I now have time to develop more content. That means more new courses and materials so we can help more people succeed with agile.

I’m really excited about the future of Mountain Goat Software and hope you’ll continue this exciting journey with us.


Click here to read about our virtual certification courses


Meet the new Mountain Goat Software Trainers

Lance Dacy: Knows scrum is about people and personalities

You might be familiar with Lance because he’s already facilitated some of our virtual classes. Lance is one of the most driven people I know. It doesn’t matter if it’s work or personal, he packs more into a day than most people do in a week, and yet he’s always incredibly generous with his time and attention.

What I like about Lance’s teaching style is that he understands scrum is about people and personalities. He knows each organization is different and that if you try to force a culture change to fit into a framework, it’s not going to work and it’s not going to be a lot of fun. He’s got a big heart and wants to see people succeed by getting the most value and enjoyment out of scrum and agile.

Julie Chickering: Makes breakthroughs practical and positive

Julie embodies an extraordinary combination of positivity and pragmatism. She also knows that the theory just doesn’t fit the real world: environments are messy, people are complicated, situations are challenging. But because of her experience working with a wide range of organizations she also knows that agile and scrum can get you those breakthrough moments.

One thing I’ve noticed about Julie is that she has a real knack of getting to the heart of the matter quickly. She’s astute and has a neat way of using encouraging, thoughtful questions to root out and fix problems that might otherwise derail a scrum team. Attendees have really warmed to her positive attitude and no-nonsense, practical advice.

Mitch Lacey: Pushes for progress

I met Mitch over fifteen years ago. He wrote The Scrum Field Guide in my series of agile books. We share a love of music, the gym, and we both come from an old-school software background at the start of our agile journey.

Mitch wants to see you succeed, and just like a great gym coach he pushes you to improve. If you want someone to tell it to you straight and encourage you to do what he knows you’re capable of, you’re going to get a lot out of working with Mitch. He’s got solid experience in commercial software development from his time at Microsoft and he’s got the battle scars and medals to show what he’s learned. Mitch is like a shot in the arm of energy and enthusiasm and he’s already getting great reviews from the virtual classes he’s supported for us.

Scott Dunn: Brings to life what’s possible

Another experienced trainer with a great personality, Scott is one of those people you instantly warm to. He’s funny, personable, and like the others has seen firsthand in a range of organizations what’s possible when you implement agile principles. What stands out to me about Scott is his ability to instill hope into people. He brings to life what’s possible and can show you that while a transformation doesn’t necessarily happen overnight, it can happen, and it can happen for you. 

Brian Milner: Engaging and approachable

I knew that Brian would be a great addition to the team of trainers that we have. He’s been in software development for more than 20 years, starting out as a developer and has seen firsthand just how significant the change from waterfall to agile can be. Brian has an engaging and approachable nature that people enjoy when they train with him. He understands that not every rule or approach works for everyone in every environment, but his breadth of experience means that he’ll answer your questions thoughtfully, considering your unique situation. I know you’ll really enjoy taking a class with him and I’m thrilled to have him on the team.

I hope you’ll give them a big welcome to the Mountain Goat Software Team. Like me, they’re ready and waiting to help you succeed with agile.

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Mike Cohn

About the Author

Mike Cohn specializes in helping companies adopt and improve their use of agile processes and techniques to build extremely high-performance teams. He is the author of User Stories Applied for Agile Software Development, Agile Estimating and Planning, and Succeeding with Agile as well as the Better User Stories video course. Mike is a founding member of the Agile Alliance and Scrum Alliance and can be reached at If you want to succeed with agile, you can also have Mike email you a short tip each week.