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Coaching, Coding and Learning By George Evjen
Book Notes from 'Coaching Agile Teams' By Lyssa Adkins

 

Let Your Style Change

  • How long has it taken you to master tai chi? -
    • I don’t know yet, im still practicing.
  • How did it take you to become a master coach?
    • I don’t know yet, im still practicing.

 

Agile Team Stages

  • One good model for mastering anything comes from martial arts.
  • Three stages of proficiency
    • Shu
      • Shu: student copies the techniques as taught without modification and without yet attempting to understand rationale.
      • Follow the rule, again, again and again.
      • Shu stresses the basics in an uncompromising fashion so the student has a solid foundation for future learning.
      • Shu - follow the rule
    • Ha
      • Having reached Ha - one has attained the basics and now spends time 'reflecting on the truth of everything'
      • The student comes to a deeper understanding of the art than the pure repetitive practice can allow.
      • The student now instructs others as an additional way to advance their own practices.
      • Carefully upholds the principles underlying the practice.
      • Ha - break the rule
    • Ri
      • Ri moves become part of the student.
      • There are no techniques, all moves are natural
      • The student is now learning and progressing more through self-discovery than by instruction.
      • Ri - be the rule
  • A team can be in one or all of these stages simultaneously.
  • If the team holds the fundamentals constant even as they experiment with new ways of doing things, they will progress through the stages safely.
  • The model really gets the conversation about improvement going.

 

Agile Coach Styles

  • I have noticed three agile coaching styles
    • Teaching
    • Coaching
    • Advising
  • Attention for modeling and reaching as well.
    • Modeling allows you to get to the core of each person on the team to help them become the best agilist they can be.
  • Coaching Styles
    • Teaching:
      • When you teach, you lay down the law and teach the rules.
      • You know a better way to work - so feel the steel rod as you teach agile.
      • Convey the rules strongly, along with your belief that agile gives us a better way to work.
      • Back this up with experiences.
      • Ask them to follow you and get agile practices working well
    • Coaching
      • The coaching style requires the foundation laid by the teaching style.
      • Help the team out by asking questions like
        • Why does this way of working work?
        • What kills it? What renews it? What feeds it?
      • Team members minds open to multiple ways of accomplishing the same thing while still  upholding the values and principles.
      • They need direct experiences and feedback to be able to truly inspect what happened so they can assess whether the change was helpful or hurtful.
    • Advising
      • The advising style comes when the team has fully internalized the practices, values, and principles of agile.
      • Your responses
        • I don’t know, what do you think.
        • May I offer you an observation.
        • That could work - try it.
  • As you move through these styles - ensure that you also pay attention to modeling and reaching.
  • Be actively modeling - constantly model the behaviors that lead to success.
  • Reaching means reaching out to each team member and the team as a whole to help them achieve the best expression of agile possible.

 

Feel Free to Let your Style Change

  • In the beginning, with a new team, the choice of style is easy - its teaching.
  • Your style flows naturally from teaching to coaching as the team moves.
  • Move to next step when their conversations about changing practices keep the underlying principle whole.
  • They must face dysfunction, at least long enough to name it and decide whether to pursue changing it.
  • Change your style from teaching to coaching.
  • Teaching has its place - but it has an unintended consequences - it creates a reliance on you.
  • Changing from Coaching to Advising
    • Advise them and notice your impact.
  • You will likely find yourself interacting with them using all three styles for various topics or skills at various times.
  • Honor your current level of skill and stay there to master it.

 

A Refresher

  • Teams master agile through stages called Shu, Ha, Ri -
  • Let your style flow from teaching to coaching to advising.
  • Always model successful team behaviors - reach a person on the team.
  • Let it be fluid.

 

Coach as Coach-Mentor

  • My practice of agile coaching up to that point was useful for starting up teams and getting the basics working.
  • It stopped well short of tapping into each person's potential to improve the team's overall performance.
  • Went to school for coaching - and found that professional work/life coaching applies 100% to agile coaching.
  • Applying coaching skills to agile context. We start by defining agile coaching more clearly.

 

What is Agile Coaching

  • In the context of agile teams - coaching takes on the dual flavor of coaching and mentoring.
  • You are also sharing your agile experiences and ideas as you mentor them.
  • Mentoring transfers your agile knowledge and experiences to the team as that specific knowledge  becomes relevant to whats happening with them.
  • The context of agile makes you a mentor; the focus on team performance makes you a coach.
  • We are using skills from the world of professional coaching.

 

What are we Coaching For?

  • Agile coaches champion the brilliant use of agile so that businesses achieve their goals faster and better.
  • To these end - you coach for
    • Help the organization achieve astonishing results - the kind that will matter in business and the team in a fundamental way.
    • Help the team develop and get healthier together.
    • Help each person take the next step on their agile journey so they can be more successful agilists
  • People should be fulfilled in their work - where they spend most of their waking hours.

 

Coaching at Two Levels

  • When you coach an agile team - you simultaneously coach them at two levels
    • An individual level
    • A whole team level
  • You though you channel your coaching intentions at the beginning and end, coaching doesn’t go on vacation in the middle of a sprint.
  • When in midsprint - you should think long and hard before bringing a major observation or improvement opportunity to the whole team.
  • Midsprint - switch from team to individual

 

Coach at the Beginning

  • As on sprint ends - another begins - the time for coaching the whole team is ripe.
  • Keep your eye on the goal - to help the whole team see how agile works when simply done.
Posted on Tuesday, July 26, 2016 9:33 AM Agile | Back to top


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