First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Sanjiv Augustine: My family and I have been blessed to remain safe even as the pandemic rages around us in the USA and all across the world. Our kids are doing distance learning, and we are fortunate to work from our home offices.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded LitheSpeed
Sanjiv Augustine: I’ve been in the industry for 30 years. I have had the opportunity to perform in multiple roles, ranging from advertising production coordinator, electronics engineer, and software developer to program manager, product sponsor, agile trainer, and agile management consultant.
For the past 20 years, all of my experience has been in the agile space: agile development, training, and management consulting. Beginning in 2001, my initial experience was with managing agile teams, and the processes I developed were very successful with our internal work.
I co-founded LitheSpeed in 2007 based on a need to apply those processes to help clients with their own agile transformations. Since then, we have had the privilege to partner with some of the top firms in the Fortune 500 and some key federal government agencies.
How does LitheSpeed innovate?
Sanjiv Augustine: We make it a point to connect closely and regularly with our clients, and we apply customer-centric design principles to all of our offerings. So, we use a simple innovation process that combines the essence of Design Thinking with Lean Startup to drive innovation. I personally follow the Andy Grove mantra, “only the paranoid survive.”
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Sanjiv Augustine: Since the majority of our business was delivered via in-person services, including agile consulting, coaching, and training, we faced a significant challenge in March when the shutdowns began.
However, we had conducted scenario planning months in advance, and we mobilized rapidly to pivot to 100% virtual delivery. Six months in, we have reorganized our entire business to support continuing virtual delivery. This has meant optimizing everything to support our next normal, from virtual training, consulting, and coaching to remote team processes.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Sanjiv Augustine: Yes, we had to get a very tight handle on the running of the business. In good times, we didn’t pay as much attention as we should to key operational processes. In the pandemic era, we have more closely tracked expenses and have reorganized to work much more closely as an end-to-end team to serve our clients better. This has also meant reorganizing the company to align with our core customers and value streams.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and LitheSpeed in the future?
Sanjiv Augustine: With the early recognition that we were headed for extraordinary times, I started paying more attention to my own mental, physical and spiritual health. Exercise, prayer, and meditation have all helped me keep centered. My family, friends, and religious community all also help me keep an even keel.
We are looking to the future with cautious optimism. Industry forecasts project that there will be an economic pickup in 2021, and we are doing everything we can to make sure we are well prepared for that.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Sanjiv Augustine: In the agile community, we like to cooperate, even as we deliver similar services to our customers. It’s part of the ethos of the humanistic agile creed, and I have found it to be definitely the best long-term strategy. In the short term, we are bound to take a few hits along with everyone else.
Given that we have a 13-year history of delivering exemplary customer value, we have a strong customer base on which to fall back.
So, staying in the game means that we keep focused on doing what we know best, and what we’re best known for – delivering customer value.
Your final thoughts
Sanjiv Augustine: We didn’t choose these times, they chose us. Our generation of leaders will be defined and remembered by how we reacted to the pandemic. As we in Gen-X get ready to hand over the generational mantle to our millennial team members, I believe this is an incredible opportunity for us to learn, grow, and transform together. We are all seeking meaning and purpose in our lives, and I believe that our businesses can play a key role in helping all of us on that journey.
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