Why are people backing away from agile? Theory one – losing sight of craftsmanship

Agile approaches are great and I even tell my friends to use them. But recently I have noticed some organisations backing away from their agile implementations.

It got scarier when I noticed that Ron Jeffries, one of the original signatories to the Agile Manifesto, wrote an article titled “Developers should abandon agile.”

It’s a good read and he makes some good points.  You can find the article here at this link.

Debate is always good, but it is scary that one of the founders of a movement is talking about giving up on it.

So what is going on, are people giving up on agile?  From where I sit there are a lot of people taking up agile approaches.

Are the founders of agile getting nervous because a new generation is taking things further than the old guard were comfortable with?  I don’t think that is the case.

Or is “going agile,” and even “being agile” failing to deliver value for the people who do implement it?

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What does an agile coach actually do – is it really that simple?

In my last article, I explained what I think agile coaches do in practice. But I did not reveal some of the complications and messy bits that get in the way of adopting the model in any sensible way.

So in this article I will explore some of the complexities and messy bits.

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Extending the coaching agreement – what do agile coaches actually do?

In my last article, I discussed what I think is NOT actually agile coaching.

This time I will tackle the tougher challenge – what does a good agile coach actually do?

A quick word of warning though – this simple question seems to have resulted in a long article. I apologise for not making this as short and to the point as it should be, but at least I have warned you.

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Extending the coaching agreement – when is an agile coach not an agile coach?

I was talking to some experienced agile people and we started to discuss “agile coaching.”

We agreed that it was a great idea and that everyone should have an agile coach. But then we realised that we did not mean the same thing when we said “coach.”

We did agree on some things, like being able to identify an evil agile coach.  But we were a little misaligned on what a good coach is meant to actually do.

So let’s assume you are a good agile coach, or want to hire one.  Do you actually know what you mean by “Agile coach.”

In this article I will go through some of the things that people might see as an “agile coach” that I see as “not actually an agile coach.”

The next article will cover what I think an agile coach actually does and how to ensure that is aligned to the coaching agreement that you would hopefully have in place.

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Jason’s coaching journey. The mysterious cheat sheet

The mysterious cheat sheet

In this long read, we continue to learn about Jason and his experience as an agile coach.

In this episode Jason and Sonja stumble on some useful tips for coaches when they stumble on a coaching cheat sheet left behind by one of the ancient coaches and they learn some great tips to use when coaching.

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Jason’s coaching journey – the struggling coaches

Some context before we start

This is the second in a series of long articles about Jason, who is an agile coach.

In the last episode, Jason was coaching away happily when suddenly it all came crashing down.

In this episode we look at how he reacts and how his friend Sonja tries to help him through some agile coaching.  Then we look at some tips on how Sonja could have more effectively coached Jason.

coach focus when slapped

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Coaching when they will do the wrong thing

My last couple of articles have been about presenting ideas so that people listen to what you are saying.

But what happens if you explain something to people and then they decide to do the wrong thing anyway?

Of course it is possible that you were wrong and that they are right.

But what if you are sure that they are about to do the wrong thing and that it will hurt them when they do?

The care factor

When people are about to make a mistake, I often stop to ask myself how much I care.

If I don’t care much what they do then I can just keep my mouth shut

Sometimes I have found myself arguing with people when I really should just let them make their own call and move on. So one of the things that I am still working on is to avoid expressing an opinion where there is no need to.  Instead, a good coach is one who let’s people form their own opinions.

But what if I do care that the person I am coaching is going to make a mistake and I think I should tell them?

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Is it really that hard to learn agile?

I work with people going agile.  Sometimes it is an awesome experience and sometimes it is quite depressing.

For example, I worked with some good, experienced people a while back.  They were were pretty sad before I turned up and pretty happy that I came to help them. This is the part of the agile coaching experience that is awesome.

Before the dawn of agile:

  • Business cases took longer to get approval than some projects took to deliver; and
  • Worse than that, some projects took longer to die than the fading spirit of the team members on the project.

Then I arrived, crashing through the window with index cards in one hand and a mandate to free the people from tyranny in the other.

This is where I like to play.

Editor’s note – Unfortunately this article turns out to be a long read, so grab a cup of tea, or just look for some nice pictures and skip all the boring text.

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