Rules of Thumb for Agile Coaches

At the end of one of my Team Coaching workshops, a participant–an agile coach with years of experience– remarked, “I had no idea there was more to coaching than asking questions.” Another coach commented, “I see now why me teaching how to write stories...

Change Artist Super Powers: Patience

John was out of patience. “It shouldn’t take this long!” John, the VP of Development, snapped. “This is a simple change. It is just not that hard!” The “it” John referred to was a set of measures and metrics. He believed that if all the teams reported these, everyone...

Change Artist Super Powers: Empathy

Some people seem to think that empathy has no place at work…that work requires a hard-nose, logic, and checking your emotions at the door. But, in periods of change, emotions—which are always present, whether we choose to acknowledge them or not—surge to the surface....

Change Artist Super Powers: Experimentation

In previous Super Power posts, I wrote about the importance of curiosity and observation in change. Both of those play into the Super Power I’ll discuss in this post: experimentation.  Tiny changes, done as experiments, may feel like you’re dancing around...

Change Artist Super Powers: Observation

Why does observation matter? Let me tell you a story.When I was a kid, we played a birthday party game called Pin the Tail on the Donkey. The game involved a large wall poster of a sad-looking, tailless donkey. The parent-in-charge handed out replacement tails and...

Change Artist Super Powers: Curiosity

In my work, I draw on models, frameworks, and years of experience. Yet, one of my most valuable tools is a simple one: Curiosity. In an early meeting with a client, a senior manager expressed his frustration that development teams weren’t meeting his schedule....

Seven Agile Best Practices

Someone I don’t know offered to teach me Agile Best Practices recently. I tend to think there are “generally good practices,” some of which are broadly applicable.  In my experience, the search for Best Practices is often a search for Silver Bullets,...

Self-Awareness Matters: Finding Your Filters

We all have filters. That’s a good thing–our cognitive systems can’t process all the data that’s available. But most people filter out useful information as well as extraneous information (for example, the size of loops in the carpet or shoe...

ScrumMaster? Coach? Agile Coach?

Do you need a ScrumMaster, Coach, Agile Coach? No matter the name, the  intention behind the role is to help teams learn new skills, continuously improve, and make the transition to a new way of working. Some people say it’s a technical role, others claim that...

Hiring a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach

If you are hiring a ScrumMaster or Agile Coach, Resume keyword searches for won’t find the right person for your teams, and your organization. Start thinking about the work, the role, the team, and the job. Here’s a job analysis of the role for a client I...

Can Managers become ScrumMasters?

A group of managers in organizations adopting agile methods pondered who should fill new agile roles. Why can’t the managers become ScrumMasters, they asked. In my experience, that’s a risky road. However, one manager was adamant. After all, the managers...

Best Argument != Best Ideas

I was talking to my friend Penny the other day about a team she coaches. She has a problem I’ve seen on many teams: a smart guy (or gal) who dominates the team. I’ll call Penny’s team member Bob. Most of the time Bob is an asset to the team. But when...

Entering Groups

An old saw tell us, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” This applies to one-on-one introductions, but also to entering groups. When you join a new team–as a member or a coach–those first encounters shape future...

Are You Ready to Coach?

Agile coaches are expected to help teams learn agile methods, engineering techniques, and improve the productivity of the teams they work with.  But before they can do they need to be ready to coach.  Being ready to coach means that you have coaching skills, relevant...

4 Influencing Skills to Get Your Ideas Accepted

A good idea is a valuable asset, and a lot of good ideas are a treasure trove. But what do you do with those ideas? Here’s a little story about an idea maker who isn’t very good at getting his ideas accepted…and 4 influencing skills to hone so your...

But /My/ Team Needs a Leader

“….leadership may be defined as: the ability to enhance the environment so that everyone is empowered to contribute creatively to solving the problem(s).” Gerald M. Weinberg I talk to many managers (and some coaches) who bemoan that their teams can’t function...

The Confusing Field of Coaching

I noticed at the recent agile conference that there were lots of people who billed themselves as agile coaches, and several sessions on coaching. Seemed like more of both than in past years. I consider myself a coach, too, though not with a capital C.  I usually coach...

A Coaching Toolkit

As a coach, your job is not to solve or do—it’s to support other people as they develop skills and capabilities and as they solve problems on their own. When it comes to coaching, one size does not fit all. You need to have a variety of practices in your toolkit in...

intake->meaning->feeling->response

Mike Cottmeyer writes about Feelings, Thoughts, and Actions. When people have a strong response, Mike describes thoughts as the point of leverage to change behavior. How we think can be influenced more directly… it is somehow less personal. We can learn about...

They don’t get it (…well, maybe)

I got a call from an acquaintance, Gloria, who is trying to convince her organization to adopt agile methods. “I’ve given them every logical argument I can think of,” she said. “They just don’t get it. All I get is blank looks. How stupid...

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