Mindset Book Cover

We are quickly closing in on the end of our re-read of Mindset.  I anticipate two more weeks (Chapter 8 and a round up).  The next book in the series will be Holacracy.  After my recent interview with Jeff Dalton on Software Process and Measurement Cast 433, I realized that I had only read extracts from Holacracy by Brian J. Robertson, therefore we will read (first time for me).

Today, we review Chapter 7 in Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (buy your copy and read along).  Chapter 7, titled “Parents, Teachers, Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From? explores the impact of some of the most intimate and earliest relationships on our mindsets.Understanding how parents, teachers, and coaches affect mindsets helps us learn to lead change. (more…)

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Coaches and change agents use many types of influence to help teams and organizations perform better as they lead.  Influence can be applied through a number of highly nuanced approaches. And like many activities, when you find success with one it is easy to fall into a trap of thinking that that approach will always work.  While sports analogies are often overdone, I will add one more to the pile before swearing them off (for this essay at least).  The Super Bowl, the pinnacle of US Football, was recently played and featured a come from behind victory. The New England Patriots won the game despite having many of their top receivers sidelined due to injury. If the Patriots had only one approach to the game based on that set of receivers they would have been blown out. A good coach will be able to leverage different forms of influence based on the context they find themselves face or be able to recognize when dangerous forms of influence are being used.  Recently I ran across a list of 7 approaches to influencing teams or organizations. Some of these approaches can be useful for coaches and some are harmful. The 7 forms of influence, some good and some bad, include: (more…)

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The Software Process and Measurement Cast 394 features our interview with Yves Hanoulle.  Yves returns to the Software Process and Measurement Cast to discuss his experiences as a coach with CoderDojo Ghent which brings coding and life lessons to children in Ghent, Belgium. We also explored how Yves has been able to incorporate the lessons he has learned volunteering into his day job. This is a fun interview that has a profound message about our obligation to the future.

This is great interview to come back from vacation to edit and deliver!

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One last week in mixtape format! I am completing a trip that is a mixture of vacation and a board meeting but that does not mean you have to forego your weekly SPaMCAST.  In place of our normal format I am posting a mix tape of the answers to the “If you could change two things” question I have been asking interviewees for nearly ten years.  This week on SPaMCAST 393 we feature our top downloaded podcasts from the year 2010:

SPaMCAST 85 – Cory Foy on Agile Coaching

http://traffic.libsyn.com/spamcast/SPaMCAST_85_-_Cory_Foy_Agile_Coaching_Collaboration_Part_1.mp3

http://bit.ly/1Qmmx0g

Cory used his wishes to discuss the obsession with certification rather than performance and bring user into making critical business decisions so that usability is maximized.

SPaMCAST 92 – Don Reinertsen on Product Development Flow

http://bit.ly/1WERCDZ

Don used his wishes to ask that people understand the economics of product development and then to use that understanding to measure and reduce WIP queues.

SPaMCAST 94 – Ivar Jacobson on SEMAT

http://bit.ly/1SYSmhA

Ivar discussed the SEMAT core defining software engineering and how SPaMCAST listeners can support the development of SEMAT.

If these excerpts tickled your fancy listen to the whole interview by clicking on the links shown above.

Next week we will return to regular programming with a thought provoking interview.

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Why would a team and/or organization want an external coach? In previous entries we have discussed the attributes of a good coach  and what a coach delivers, all of which may have whetted your whistle. However, it doesn’t answer the question why you would seek out an external coach. An external coach brings new ideas to the table, different perspectives and a shot of energy. (more…)

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Agile Coaches help teams and organizations embrace Agile and help maximize the delivery of business value.  We use terms like enable and facilitate to describe how they help organizations and teams transform.  But what does an Agile Coach actually do?  If we unpack enable and facilitate what do we actually find?  We actually mean a variable mix of activities that includes: consulting, cajoling, training, arbitration and mentoring. (more…)

A coach is much like a honey bee...

A coach is much like a honey bee…

I strongly believe that coaches are not managers or Scrum Masters.  Coaches are a unique mixture of attributes, including being a listener, a learner, a mediator and an evangelist. A deficit in any these attributes will reduce a coach’s effectiveness.

A good coach is a listener.  A coach listens by making a conscious effort to hear not only the words that the other person is saying but, more importantly, trying to understand the complete message being sent. A coach listens to obtain information, to understand and to learn.

A good coach is a learner.  There are two related reasons that being a learner is important.  Agile is continually evolving, therefore the value of what you know now will erode quickly. Secondly, a coach is much like a honey bee, transferring ideas and techniques from one project or organization to another. A coach must actively seek out and learn new techniques and concepts to pollinate new teams and organizations. Without the ability to continually learn, the utility a coach can provide will also erode.

A good coach is a mediator. Conflict that leads to decisions is part and parcel of team life.  Sometimes these decisions and interactions are hard.  A coach plays the role of a mediator who facilitates negotiation to help team members reach a mutually satisfactory solution to their problems, without compulsion. Coaches that can’t mediate tend to revert to management compulsion, which will not only reduce the effectiveness of the coach, but may also injure the team.

 A good coach has to be an evangelist. Lean and Agile focus on only doing the work that delivers business value. Helping a team or an organization embrace Agile techniques effectively means personally embracing and helping the organization embrace the underlying philosophy of Agile.  A coach needs believe in the philosophy so that they can champion and shepherd the journey along the “new way.”  Not being willing to evangelize for the underlying philosophies of Agile will lead to crappy Agile.

Each of the attributes of a good coach – listening, learning, mediation and evangelism – are all required.  Deficits in any will hurt the coaches ability to coach and will reduce the effectiveness of the team.  The attributes that good coaches acquire and foster will increase the ability of teams and organizations ability to deliver value.