“What why how” coaching for skills

I recently wrote an article on coaching where I suggested building a toolkit of different approaches to use when coaching people and teams in different things.

This is my (very basic) tool for teaching a skill – it is called “what why how”.

I use it when I want to help someone develop a specific skill that I am confident I can teach and give feedback on.  For example, running agile meetings or business scoping workshops.

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Would you prefer coaching or coaching?

I ran an agile coaching course recently and, naturally, we spoke a lot about coaching.

We ran through a lot of different techniques and approaches to coaching people in agile teams, but we discovered that both “coaching” and “agile” might mean different things to different people in different teams.

Then someone asked how they would know when to apply different approaches to coaching. The answer we came up with was:

“It depends who you are coaching and what they are hoping to achieve.”

That left people a little confused about how and when to apply different techniques. So we came up with the following diagram that might help (although I have added a couple of bits based on previous conversations with people).

coaching types

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Notes on story walls – story or task?

In my last article, I talked about “story walls” but in fact, I focused on task walls.  The difference is minor but choosing one over the other can help improve collaboration among the team.

Task walls, predictably, are about tasks – “today I will do task 1” while story walls focus on the thing being built – “today I am working on story 3.”

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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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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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