Quick and easy health checks for Agile teams

I often tell Agile coaches to start with a health check on the teams they are about to coach.

People think this a health check is a great idea and they often research complex algorithms and assessment tools.

But that is really hard work for you and the team. So at our coaching clinic we tried a lazier alternative – I put these conversation starter kits up on the wall.

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Do you get value from your retrospective?

A retrospective is a meeting where the team stop working and take a step back to review how well they are working and what they can do to improve.

It is generally done every sprint (or every two weeks if there is no sprinting going on).

The theory is easy – the team share their views on what went well in the last fortnight, what did not go well and what they should keep doing or change as a result.

In practice though, it often turns into a therapy session where people share opinions about the way the world is really bad (or even how the team is awesome) and then they wander off without taking on any action items.

So when your team have lost their mojo and the retros are getting stale maybe it is time to do a retro on the retro.  Similarly, when you first start out as a team, it is often good to define what you might want to get from your retro.

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Different Retrospectives and pre-mortems

One of the most powerful components of agile approaches is the retrospective.  I often think that even if a team does not know what “agile” is, if that team pauses on a regular basis and reflects on how to get better at what they do, then they would invent most of the other agile practices for themselves.

But stopping on  a regular basis can get stale after a while, so I thought I would sharer some slightly different sets of questions that you can use to keep things fresh.

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A choose your own adventure for agile coaches

Following a discussion I had in a recent class on agile coaching, I said I would create a “Choose your own adventure book.”

I have only done 3 pages but if you are interested then have a look


If people like it then I might add some more content but for the moment it only has some comments on the different approaches to agile coaching that Lao Tzu and Confucius recommend.


Dealing with baddies on agile projects

[Editors note – this is a long an obscure article that made sense to me and some people I explained it to. If it is not making sense half way through abort rather than continuing … it either makes sense early on or does not make sense at all]

I was running an agile course on how to facilitate good work in agile teams.  We had some great discussions about conflict being good and people being unleashed to create value rather than being held back by managers who try to control them to force them to add value.

But then we had a less comfortable conversation. Someone asked what you do with someone who is being a [bad person] in an agile team.

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Clarifying agile roles – speed dating?

I went through this quick meeting with an agile class recently and I said I would post this for the crew to refer back to.

In agile teams there are a couple of core roles and then the rest depends on the kind of work the team does.  But we can give some more clarity than this, as I have previously discussed here.

Even so, the role of the Scrum Master or Product Owner or Tech Lead or even others will vary from project to project and even sprint to sprint.

So I often have people sit down together and actually tell each other what they think they are in the team for.  Essentially I get them to go through these questions that I got from a book called “Stand Back and Deliver.”


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