Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Agile 2009 - Day 2 - 25th August - Top 10 tips to Agile Coaches

After Alistair's Keynote, I went to Rachel Davies & Liz Sedley's "Top ten tips to Agile Coaches".

Top ten tips to Agile Coaches - Rachel Davies & Liz Sedley

The session was mainly based on a summary from what Rachel and Liz learned through their experience and while writing their book. I will just write down the tips with my small notes and let you think about them.

10. Get Introduced
Who are you? What do you do? What is your goal?
Explain your point of view to the team you will (or are) coaching and let them understand you are not there to be their boss.

9. Agile is NOT a religion
Spend time and effort to listen and understand the team and their environment. It might very well happen that agility does not fit their situation. Be sensitive to their context.

8. Show respect
Always trust (deeply in your heart, not just for show) that people did their best since the beginning and try to understand why they got in the situation they are in.
Discover the differences between people and use NAMES ("the BA said that the DB guy couldn't do it" versus "Jenny told me that Josh was having troubles to implement it").
Ask what they think about the issues and was suggestions they have and LISTEN to their answer. Pay attention and try to understand. Work with them over those suggestions.

7. Step back to see the big picture
Don't try to fix people. Try to fix the pressures and obligations those people suffer from so that they can do their job decently.

6. Ask questions to spark ideas
Questions make people explain ideas and understand them. It also makes them create arguments and counter-arguments for their ideas. If you can make their ideas work, it will help the team adopt the movement and carry on.
But be careful: ask questions to other people's ideas, not your own. Do not try to force your ideas through those questions.

5. Take time out to reflect
Don't let pressure force your answers. Your calm attitude will relax the team and make them feel more confident. Ask help to other agile coaches/people if you can't think of a good behavior. You don't have to know it all.

4. Introduce the Elephant
Show off the problem that everyone know exists but is silent about it. But don't put it as a pressure. Give the team a chance to suggest solutions, ideas, root causes, etc.

3. Make changes as an experiment
Go slowly. Try some idea and be ready to remove it if it doesn't work. Don't stick to something that won't work just because you think the team should make it work. Try something else and try it again later, in another context. Give the team chances to suggest those changes and experiment with their ideas.

2. Go with the energy of the team
Solve the problem the team wants to solve. Eventually they will address the problems you consider important.

1. Have courage in your convictions
Don't doubt your capacities, the problem is not easy and you can't let people see you doubt yourself. It will discourage them and make them lose confidence in you. Believe you can make a difference or you really won't.

After the talk, they asked for each table of participants to add their own tips. A few of them were really good but, unfortunately, I couldn't write them down. Those are obviously good ideas and NOT religions either. Any problem can have its context in which any of those tips can fail. But in general, thinking about them can only help you. Do you have any tip you feel should enter that list? Please post it as a comment. I've attached their slides although they don't add so much.

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