When I first started work, many years ago, people spoke a lot about “leader as coach,” and “Self-directed careers.” The idea that any team leader and any senior technician, administrator or artisan was also a teacher of others became ingrained into my expectations myself and those that I worked with. Similarly, the idea that we were all responsible for our own careers meant that everyone was a leader. This gave me an awesome start to what has been a divergent and luck driven career, because it meant that I was being taught leadership, learning and teaching from the first days … Continue reading Coaching people at work. How can I learn it?
I like to think that I am a good storyteller. I use stories in teaching, coaching and in presentations. Some of my skill comes from my education at school and some from being surrounded by good storytelling as I grew up. But what if I wanted to learn about storytelling now, as an adult. Where should I start? I was talking to someone this week and I realized that while I frequently seek to learn more about storytelling, I don’t really know the best source for learning about it, because I have simply stumbled through material that looked interesting to … Continue reading Storytelling at work. How can I learn it?
I have been telling people that if they go to meetings, which most of us do, then they should get value from those meetings. This is even more important in agile where the processes and tools (meetings, workshops, ceremonies, rituals or whatever you call them) are supposed to support the individuals and their interactions. It is NOT supposed to be “the individuals are a bunch of tools who need to make the agile processes work.” With this in mind I have been telling people that each meeting should have a positive ROTI (Return on Time Invested). I have even shared … Continue reading MVP Meeting ROTI (return on time invested)
We are in lockdown at the moment and I am eves dropping on my daughter’s (online) class while I work beside her. The teacher is explaining a new activity to a group of 9 and 10 year-olds. It is a complex new topic (It sounds like graphic design and history of Sydney combined but I am not sure). They haven’t done before and they are trying new technology to help learn it because they are not in the same location (Google Slides with shared comments). It sounds like a challenge to me – they need to learn a new way … Continue reading 3 step agile as defined by school kids
I am gradually reading through a great book called “The power of making thinking visible.” It is meant to be a guide for teachers who want to improve thinking in the classroom, but it is also a great guide for structures that coaches can use for the same purpose at work. What follows is me making my own thinking about some concepts in the book – so flaws in the thinking probably represent the maturity of my thinking here rather than a flaw in the content of the book 🙂 One of the ideas hidden in some of the techniques … Continue reading Are tough questions good questions?
I sometimes question whether I should focus more on coaching the team or changing the environment to unleash the team. Choosing between the two can be a real dilemma for me. However, there are some coaching tools that are useful in both helping the team grow AND creating space to support that growth in the organisation. A “forcing function” is one of those things. The name is bit obscure and like all good ideas in agile coaching, they are used to mean different things to different people at different times, to ensure that any smart curious person can remain confused … Continue reading Forcing functions for good and evil
A while ago now, I was listening to a great presentation by Pat Reed, who is an excellent agile coach. (Editor’s note – if you are interested, you can learn more about Pat by watching this video, which is one of a series of interviews with women who have had a big impact on the agile world). Anyway, back to my story. The presentation was going very well until Pat said “I think one of the greatest challenges for this organization will be to convince our teams to be willing to do less.” People nodded, but Pat paused for effect. … Continue reading I did not say slow down to speed up later
In agile teams, people give each other feedback all the time. Sometimes it is feedback about things that can be done better and often it is about expressing gratitude or pointing out something that was done well. In fact I would say that good feedback is one of the things that drives agile teams forward. Without it, teams can get burnt out, burning through an endless backlog without seeing the progress they have been making. Sometimes though, agile teams can also start suffering from group think, talkfests and unhealthy conversations. This is where a technique called the broken record technique … Continue reading The broken record technique
I was collating my thoughts about feedback recently and I started to think about whether people listen to feedback. I like to think that my keen observations are helping people see things that they had been missing and, equipped with this new knowledge, that they will reflect on it and find improvements in their lives. In short, the world will get better one conversation at a time. Unfortunately I know that my words sometimes fall on deaf ears, which raises the question: Assuming someone asked for feedback and the feedback was potentially useful, why would they not listen? I believe … Continue reading Why don’t people listen to feedback
Here is a conversation that I claim I was once in. I will let you determine whether this is a real thing or just made up. Apprentice coach We keep telling the teams that they should measure and learn from their work so they keep learning. Should we also measure the impact of our coaching? James It is surprising how rarely people ask that question, Grasshopper. Apprentice Coach When you call me grasshopper it makes me feel as though you are getting old and quoting ancient tv shows that don’t even exist anymore. Or are you just evading my question? How … Continue reading How do you measure agile coaching?