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I've been running experiments for the past year around doing virtual coaching. I call the sessions Coaching Circles and they take the loose format of a Lean Coffee hosted via Zoom.
They run for 90 minutes and, so far, attendees have seemed to gain great value from them.
Oh, and did I mention that they're free?
I've increased the frequency to (roughly) 2x a month for the early part of 2018 and have them scheduled for January - May. If you'd like to participate, you can get more info and register here - https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coaching-circles-wbob-galen-tickets-41323509730
Just one of the ways I'm trying to "give back" to our wonderful agile community.
Stay agile my friends,
I came across a video the other day that had this catchy title – Radical Candor. I watched it and was intrigued by the talk AND its implication to agile teams, organizational transformations, and sustainable cultures.
Kim Scott was the presenter in the video and she was sharing lessons she’d learned in her leadership journey at Apple and Google. In a nutshell, she was advocating radical candor for leaders in communicating with their direct reports.
The stories she told made me think about my own career and leadership journey. A couple of which I’d like to share with you.
Quite a few years ago, while I was working at iContact, a fellow agile coach approached me with a free offer.
It seemed that he had developed an agile maturity assessment (framework, tool, approach, strategy, etc.) and wanted to try it out somewhere. I’d known him for quite some time and he had some solid agile coaching experience under his belt.
I politely told him “thank you” and that I would “think about it” and quickly closed down the discussion. To be honest, I was initially close-minded to the idea. Here I was an internal technical leader and agile coach in my company. And, to be honest, we were kicking-ass when it came to agile performance and delivery.
But the more I thought about it, the more I started to convince myself that it would be a good idea. Regardless of our performance, we could always get better…couldn’t we?
I was chatting with some colleagues the other day and the topic of agile maturity came up. Particularly for Technology Leaders who are inquiring about agile approaches.
These could be leaders who are new to agile and want to start the transformation OR leaders who are currently engaged in a transformation and looking for assistance.
The questions were around, how to tell IF:
- Do they truly “get” or understand agility?
- Are they really “ready” for it?
- Are they serious about it?
- Are they a good candidate for a coaching engagement?
- And, are they properly aligned with the principles of the coaching/consulting firm?
Some of the questions focused towards money. In fact, quite a few of them. Questions here were around budgets, the contractual/approval process, and payment terms.
I was almost embarrassed to admit that these are not forefront in my mind when I’m engaging clients. My feeling is that they sort of take care of themselves. What I care more about is how I perceive the Inspection Report - February 2017 client’s answers to the first set of questions AND how do they align with my own principles.
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, last week 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.
I was writing another blog post about the lack of an agile engagement having a cohesive coaching team and it dawned on me that I’ve never shared what an agile coaching team might look like.
Given that inspiration, I thought I’d spend a few minutes discussing aspects of creating (finding, forming, and building) a great team of coaches for a larger-scale, agile transformation initiative.
I honestly don’t know where the quote comes from, but I’ve heard that in order for you to become a great leader, you need first to become a great follower. That by following, and putting on the mindset of service, you better understand leadership.
I attended an agile coach’s gathering about a year or more ago. It was a “coaching the coaches” session and it was very valuable. But an aspect of it has stuck with me ever since. One that I’ve mulled over and over and would like to share.
There were a group of coaches in attendance from the same client engagement, a large, multi-billion-dollar organization that had been going Agile for a couple of years.
When they decided to go agile, one of the first things the client did was reach out to an agile coaching firm for help. On the surface, that sounds like a good thing to do. However, the firm was largely staff augmentation focused, so that was their background and comfort zone.
I’ve been doing more pairing lately. Much more.
I’ve been trying it in my conference workshops and talks. Pairing with Mary Thorn quite a bit on the agile quality and testing side of things. I’m also pairing with Josh Anderson on our Meta-cast and I’ve done a few presentations with him. Very enjoyable.
I’ve also been pairing more in my writing. For years, I’ve been a lone wolf writer. Nobody but myself saw my writing before it entered the light of day. But now, I’m learning the value of having reviewers and editors. Second opinions matter. A second set of eyes matter. And having a partner in your endeavors can be quite a bit of fun.
An example of this is Mary Thorn being my “Chief Story Teller” in my 3-Pillars book. We had a blast writing the book and her stories complimented my own experiences to give readers two sides to many coins.
Tanner Wortham is a ScrumMaster and coach who I’ve quoted on this blog before. He recently wrote a blog post entitled: When Can a ScrumMaster Say No which I read with interest.
I’ve been sharing of late around the notion of more prescriptive coaching stances and, at least in my mind, this seeps into the role of ScrumMaster. So I wanted to hear what Tanner had to say.
Here’s a snippet from the article:
[…] Doing away with the sprint review simply ignores the problem. Help the team experiment with new ways to conduct the review but that align with the intent. Over time, they will find their solution. At no point did we have to say no. In fact, we should avoid it. I believe our responsibility is to understand and to guide. Rarely is it to deny.
Even so, I occasionally encountered two situations where I’ll say no as a Scrum Master: