Tools and approaches

I apply a lot of techniques in my work and I often explain those techniques to people in the training sessions and workshops that I run.

Sometimes the techniques are well documented on the web somewhere and I provide people with a link, but over the years I have also found myself summarizing many of them on this blog.

But since this is a blog, it is often hard to find things in it. So this page is really just an index to some of the articles that might be useful, broken into the topics that they relate to:

  • Collaborative problem solving
  • Defining the purpose of a team and helping them change
  • Working in an agile context
  • Communicating ideas to others
  • Risk assessment and risk management

Collaborative problem solving

Some simple approaches

Value stream mapping: Using value stream maps

Card sorting: Card sorting – agile BA technique 158

The Cause and Effect clock (also a description of a baseline for coaching and an end to end workshop structure): The cause and effect clock for agile coaches

The Plan on a page as part of a workshop: How we defined the problem in our workshop, plus a plan on a page

Affinity diagrams: Collaborative problem solving with affinity diagrams

Force field analysis: How to use force field analysis

Trade-off matrices and several approaches to finding solutions: The humble trade-off matrix

Setting the scene by defining the problem

Some approaches to re-framing problems in order to tackle them.  Can be used with a person or with a team in a retro or problem workshop

Some question patterns that can help you get to the bottom of things

Creating a project charter to set the team up for success: A project charter for lazy teams

Consolidating ideas and summarizing findings

The river diagram: Use the river diagram to communicate data

Quick voting approaches: Thumb based voting and 5 and 10 finger voting

Defining the purpose of the team

Understanding the value proposition and services a team offers

This is a series I did on defining the purpose of a team and then clarifying what the team does and what skills it needs to build:

Assessing the ability of a team or teams to adopt change

These articles look at the ability of the team to adopt new ways of working (and likelihood of doing so).  I suggest starting with the easy one and then consider the others if you have time.

This will also help when the team is evolving (or even just cruising) – an article on pragmatic succession planning as your team evolves

Working in an agile context

Roles in agile projects

Agile is a mindset so you the roles depend on your context. But these are the typical roles that I come across:

Building agile roles from scratch using “speed dating:”  Clarifying agile roles – speed dating? and a slight modification – Minor update to role speed dating

The BABusiness analysts on agile projects – why would you want one take 2?

One approach to BA work in an agile project (sneaking the BA in when nobody knows they need one plus applying an old school BA approach): A mechanical approach for a BA on an agile project

A rough view of what I saw happening to business analysts in agile teams:

The agile coach:

The Tester:   What do testers do on agile projects?

The project manager:

The Product Owner:

I have not created an article on this because I think it is really well covered in other places

Story walls and other things you might see on the wall

Story walls

Other walls

Agile coaching

Starting out with a good agreement:

Health checks and ideas for retrospectives:

Some approaches to coaching discussions:

Games to help people learn agile

My release planning game is free and covers a lot of learning around planning and re-planning in an agile context.

I love it and it works well, but it can be a little complex to master when you are facilitating it.  Eduardo Meira Peres in Brazil came up with a much simpler version based on rebuilding the “lost” alphabet.  This version is really simple to set up and run and focuses on understanding concepts like velocity and planning sprints to create iterative value.

You can find them here: Agile release planning game downloads

I have also slightly updated the “lost alphabet” version for use in some training courses – you can find it here.

I also like the “hard choices” game that helps people understand architectural planning and decisions in a changing environment.  You can find it here –

I am still looking for a good game that really teaches the concept of estimating in an agile context – let me know if you find one.

Testing in an agile context:

Setting up testing in an agile team is both critical and seemingly one of the hardest bits to going agile.

Communicating ideas to others

Creating a simple and pragmatic communication plan: Creating a basic communication plan

Presenting ideas to the team: Facilitation tip – introducing new ideas

When presenting ideas is tougher – Presenting new ideas – when you need to be more convincing and Introducing ideas when you need more credibility and When you lack evidence (or have too much)

Dealing with tougher situations

Challenging people who are doing the wrong thing: Coaching when they will do the wrong thing and Dealing with baddies on agile projects. But see also the links under “Setting the scene” as a part of collaborative problem solving

Understanding power and related issues before tackling people – Power, politics and readiness for change and Understanding the background to power in a group

Thinking things through before you dive in: The dark art of politics – do you need values or a brand to win  and  The dark art of office politics for IT leaders (part one – why is it stressful?)

Dealing with bias: Bias and decision making.

Converting conflict to collaboration: The Options Generator

Risk management techniques

Here are some approaches to assessing and analysing risks:


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