For several years, I was heavily involved in running Scrum Alliance Coaching Retreats. I probably attended 5-6 of them over time. And they filled a necessary niche where folks who were in agile coaching roles could gather together and share ideas and challenges.

But the format of the events was focused towards running small projects as Scrum teams. You can read more about that here.

Well, in May 2017 I attended my first Agile Coach Camp – US in New York City. It ran from Friday evening to mid-day on Sunday. And it was held at the Spotify offices. It was run as an Open Space.


This format was much more valuable, energizing, and powerful that the retreats I was more familiar with. Sure, I’ve been to open spaces before. But this was the first time that it included a more focused coaching group. I can’t explain what it was like to hang out with a group of like-minded, powerful coaches. It was incredible.

And the learning was palpable. I facilitated a few sessions and they were outstanding. Not because of me, but because of the overall attendee wisdom and willingness to share.

Rhiannon came

My daughter Rhiannon and her family live in NY, about 90 minutes north of the city along the Hudson River. To be honest, I used the coaches camp as a reason to visit them. Beyond that I invited her to come to the camp with me.

She has a strong background in social work. She’s done field work and management, mostly helping families and children. So, her leadership, training, negotiation, conflict resolution, communication, and facilitation skills are top-notch. We’ve always talked about the potential connection from social work to agile coaching and this gave us the opportunity to test that hypothesis.

Well, it worked.

She found many opportunities to engage and share her experiences in our community. She also learned quite a bit that she could take back to her social work. One of the best sessions she attended revolved around creating and the importance of safety in the workplace. It went so well that her open space group extended the discussions for two sessions.

Eating our own Dogfood?

One of the sessions I facilitated was entitled: Coaches being Coached – Learning to Eat our own Dogfood. The premise driving it was my observation that many coaches are really good at coaching. But when it comes to our “being coached”, we often aren’t quite as excited by it.

In this session, we focused on ways that we could become better coaches.

  • Maintaining a “beginners mind”
  • Focusing on “working code” in our coaching; that is, walking our talk by our behavior
  • Pairing with other coaches; blended experience levels; in your company, in public, as volunteers
  • Mentoring coaches; teaching
  • Looking more within ourselves – self-governance
  • Working agreements are powerful at all levels in which we operate
  • Create a book club; continuous reading and updating our skills
  • Look to become a role model; model the behaviors that we aspire to
  • Think of coaches of coaches; connect to someone who has more experience
  • ·       Practice Coaching Dojo style conversations and learning
  • ·       Self-reflection & retrospective; get to the “ugly truth’s” and then do something about them
  • Get a personal coach
  • Have a mindset of – Sharpen your Saw
  • Perhaps engage at some level in a coaching apprenticeship model
  • Become aware of your strengths and hone/amplify them
  • Try a Hack-a-Thon for coaches; what a cool idea!
  • Allow yourself “space” for learning; in this case time and refreshment
  • Celebrate your coaching journey

We extended this quote:

To be a good leader, you first need to be a good follower...
To be a good coach, you first need to be coachable...

I once shared a post about my experience with the Scrum Alliance Coaching Retreats. It relates to (inspired) this topic, so you might want to read it for additional backstory context.

Wrapping Up

I could go on-and-on about the Coaches Camp. To say that it was a defining moment in my open space experience is not an overstatement.

I’ve had mixed experience, both good and bad, with open spaces. I think the difference in this case was:

  • We had experienced facilitators who’ve been doing the camps for a while;
  • The location, Spotify’s offices in NYC, were excellent – creative, open, interesting, comfortable;
  • The level of the attendees was nicely represented with some inexperience and more experience;
  • Everyone created a space for learning, everyone engaged, everyone committed to the camp;
  • Relationship building was a strong part of the experience.

If you’re wondering, will I go to another Agile Coach Camp? The answer is – I can’t wait! And I hope I can convince Rhiannon to come as well.

Here’s a link to the camp for more information –

Stay agile my friends,