Quick question – should you coach the team or change the environment?

When coaching teams, I find that I have a natural bias for teaching them to take charge of the world and apply better techniques to getting their work done. I find, however, that teaching the team is often not enough. As much as they are empowered and keen to improve, they are always part of a larger system. The team members might all want to stop working on pointless features and focus on value, or they might want to get rid of long business cases and piles of unproductive meetings. This would be great if they operated on their own, … Continue reading Quick question – should you coach the team or change the environment?

Motivation gets you started by habit keeps you going

I came across this sign some time ago, while walking down a street in Queensland, Australia. I thought it was a great ad for a gym or a personal trainer and I also think it is a great motto for an agile coach. Say a team is told to use something like Scrum, but have no motivation for doing so, beyond the fact that management told them to do it. They will never really get started. A team can have a stand-up every day, but if it is inflicted on them they they will simply go through the motions until … Continue reading Motivation gets you started by habit keeps you going

Change the future to change the present

One of the challenges of an agile coach, on the surface, is to get people to behave differently. But why? There are many reasons that getting people to change the way they behave is hard and there are many solutions. In fact one of the reasons I think that coaches like “Shu Ha Ri” is that is gets people to do what they are told and saves a lot of debate. However, getting people to change the way they behave is the wrong starting point. I have been coaching a couple of high performing teams recently and also working with … Continue reading Change the future to change the present

When everyone is accountable, who really is?

I claim that an agile team is a self-organizing team, which means that everyone in the team is accountable for the successes of the team (and the shortcomings). But is this really true? (hint – yes). But the big book of Scrum says you must have specific accountabilities. In Scrum, there is a saying that the PO is responsible for what the team does and “the team” is responsible for how they do it. However, my opinion is different here to how some Scummers interpret that statement. I do NOT take it to mean that the team mindlessly accept work … Continue reading When everyone is accountable, who really is?

How do I know that is true?

I help teams be “more agile.”

My favourite approach is to help them build a culture of self improvement. I figure that if we get that right, then the team will invent all the agile things that they need.

An extremely basic approach to getting better

This should work in theory, but it means the team will be limited to learning based on their own experience. So how will they know if they are learning the right skills?

Continue reading “How do I know that is true?”

Are my stakeholders logical?

When I went to university, I learned a lot about decision making in a business context. I learned that decisions should be sound and logical, based on good analysis, which in turn depends on the collection of evidence that is relevant, reliable and free from bias. That is not exactly what I found when I starting working though. Instead, most decisions seemed to be instinctive, based on a spur of the moment assessment of whatever information was immediately at hand. At first I assumed that small decisions must be based on quick input and that large decisions should be based … Continue reading Are my stakeholders logical?

Technical excellence and a geek tragedy

I had an idea for a story. A kind of “geek tragedy,” based on the idea that the very things that the team are most proud of, might also be the seeds of their DOOM. I thought I would play with an outline here and see if the story comes to anything. Idea one – a theoretical team of techies Let’s say we have an agile teams that wants to continually focus on technical excellence. In fact excelling technically is something that is very dear to them. They are a small team that works on a stand alone product. Things … Continue reading Technical excellence and a geek tragedy