Coaching Agile Teams – Lyssa Adkins

Voici un résumé du livre dédié aux Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters et toute personne désireuse d’en savoir plus sur l’agilité. (article en anglais)

1. Will I be a good coach?

In a company, people want to know « why are we doing this anyway? », « what good is to anyone? ».

Agile coaching helps to produce products that matter in the real, complex, and uncertain world and adds meaning to people work lives.

Agility is easy to get going but hard to do well.

Agile is like in battles, plans are useless but planning is indispensable. Plans is documentation and planning is an active way to talk about goals and strategies.

« Gravity works ». Rock climbers know this and plan for it. So do agile coaches.

The abilities of an Agile Coach:
1. They can read the emotion in a room
2. They care about people more than products
3. They ask. They know when they don’t know.
4. They believe that people are basically good.
5. They know that plans fall apart.
6. They risk being wrong.

2. Expect high performance

Motivation comes when people achieve autonomy, mastery, and a sense of purpose.

You have to believe this for yourself: achieving high performance is more than possible; it is normal. Start the journey of the team toward high performance: a vision that lets them imagine it and reach for it. Lead by believing.

The high performance tree
The agile coach is « the glue that holds this family together, a thousand candles lighting the way ».
The roots: Put the 5 values of scrum (FORCC) and of XP (Communication, simplicity, feedback, courage).
The leaves: self-organized team, they can solve any problem, trust, constructive disagreement.
The fruits: business value faster and the right business value.

3. Master yourself

Ask the team to call you on « command-and-control » behavior.

The most useful thing you can bring to the team is you.

The different modes during a conflict:
Competing: assertive and not cooperative
Collaborating: assertive and cooperative
Compromising: in the middle of both dimensions
Accomodating: cooperative and not assertive
Avoiding: neither assertive nor cooperative
Where were you in your last conflict?

Non violent communications:
– Be detached from outcomes
– Take it to the team (don’t solve the problem yourself)
– Be a mirror (ask « what do you think about that »?
– Master your words and face
– Let there be silence
– Let the team fail
– Serve with gratitude
– Listen actively
– Don’t speak first (even if you’re the question poser)
– Get present (the here and now)

Think about people as people, not as obhects with problems to solve.

Always work on yourself; read, coach, meet other people..

4. Let your style change

5. Coach as coach-mentor

You coach individuals and teams.
A coach dosn’t go on vacation in the middle of a sprint.

A coach loves you just the way you are.
A coach loves you too much to let you stay that way.

For one-on-one coaching
1. Meet them a half-step ahead, not too far, but where they are
2. Guarantee safety. What happens in the team stays in the team.

You need to coach the managers, too. If they think there is a problem with the team, take the problem to the team and talk about it (in a retro i.e.). Don’t let managers fix team problems from the outside.

Believe that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have.

Business value is a combination of value, cost, risk, and knowledge gained.

6. Coach as facilitator

Two-pizza teams: if you can feed the whole team on two pizzas, you have the good size.

30 things done are better than 50 things in progress.

When the stand-up starts, don’t say it, just stand.

Stand-up: peer pressure, coordination, focus on the few, raise impediments.

Sprint planning: the team has to know the goal. What if it was a newspaper headline? What REAL value gets delivered in this story? What REAL user gets anything from it?

7. Coach as teacher

8. Coach as problem solver

Tkae the problems to the team, don’t try to solve them.
To detect problems: use the health check.

The coach is the guardian of the quality: if this product was a hamburger, would I serve it to my kid? If I were a customer, would I be happy to pay for this?

A coach asks « where are we weak? »

9. Coach as conflict navigator

When someone brings a complaint:
1. Have you shared your concerns and feelings with..
2. … should know of your concerns. Would it help if I go with you?
3. May I tell … that you have these concerns?

Never carry anonymous complaints.
Agile is about courage and respect.

10. Coach as collaboration conductor

Collaboration and cooperation are different.

Collaboration= the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts. It leads to emergence.

Emergence is when a system can’t be traced back to any of the individual parts of the system (ex: personality and neurons)

How to create cooperation:
– On time is already late
– Come prepared

To get a team unstuck, choose a game on

« Call it » when you see non collaborative behaviors.

11. Agile coach failures and successes

If you coach multiple teams, have a backlog to prioritize the team improvements. Give to each team your full, undivided attention and presence.

Replace fear with trust. Trust that if the team fails, they will learn and become better.

Trust + Attention = Good Coaching

Pair with other coaches.

Practice, practice, practice.

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