This is something I personally struggle with as a coach.
Quite often, my default style is to push my clients beyond their comfort zone. In so doing, I run the risk that it becomes MY vision over THEIR vision. Or that I may be pushing them too hard, far beyond their capacity to change.
But at the same time, meeting them entirely where they are strikes me as a wimpy approach. One that will, at best, succeed in their transformation taking many years. But it’s a common philosophy that I hear repeated by many agile coaching firms who seem to be looking more at long-term revenue flow over client adoption acceleration and ongoing success.
So, the question is – what is the right stance or posture when meeting a new client?
Should we meet them where they are and apply very little change pressure (where and when needed)? Or should we take a risk and push them out of their comfort zones?
And of course, the general answer is – it depends and context matters. But still, we need a general strategy. So which way do we lean? Let’s explore the extremes of that question…
For years as I’ve been getting older, I often refer to myself as a “Dinosaur”. It’s not a bad analogy, as I’m getting quite old in the tooth.
I’m certainly not as technically astute as I once was, nor am I as mentally quick. And please don’t say that I was never all that quick.
But I read a blog post the other day from Jason Little that alarmed me. It brought the analogy home, as he is predicting the extinction of agile coaching.
I’ve occasionally shared blog posts related to questions from my good friend Lee Copeland. Lee will occasionally send me an email asking a question related to an article or talk idea that he has. In this case, he asked me about – “bad things that Scrum typically exposes”?
He sent me this list to illustrate the sorts of things he was looking for:
- weak people (who managed to hide),
- time stolen (by people for pet projects), and
- Parkinson's Law (work expands to fill the time allotted).
I thought about it for a couple of days, as I didn’t necessarily resonate with his short list. In fact, my initial reply to Lee was that – Scrum exposes EVERYTHING; so making a list could be a long effort. But upon reflection, I’ve created a “Top 10” Baker’s Dozen of things (challenges, dysfunctions, problems, etc.) that I typically see when organizations transform to Scrum.
It’s not intended to be exhaustive, but I hope you find it thought provoking…
In late 2014 I ran an open space at the Raleigh Scrum Coaches Retreat with this title. You can read more about that session here.
I then got the opportunity to run the session again at the Phoenix Scrum Gathering in May 2015. The session was well attended with the room full at around 100+ people. So the dynamics were a bit different from the retreat.
Instead of focusing on those bad expressions, I want to instead share some of the new themes I heard in this session.
We just finished the 2014 Raleigh Scrum Coaching Retreat in Chapel Hill, NC and I was lucky enough to participate. The event sold out months ago and was capped at 75 attendees so we could immerse in some intense working groups and Open Space sessions.
I suggested an Open Space session entitled as this post is. My inspiration was Adam Weisbart’s famous video by the same name, but targeted towards Scrum Masters. In that video, Adam and his band of actors demonstrated all of the things a good Scrum Master should do by demonstrating the things a bad Scrum Master did. He packs a tremendous number of anti-patterns into 3 ½ minutes.