The two most important items for me during this read of Coach Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins are found in the first part of this chapter. Reflecting back on my previous cover-to-cover read, I think that the number of great facilitation techniques in this chapter caused me to overlook two very important concepts. The first is an approach for differentiating collaboration and coordination. The approach is simple but very powerful. Why would any coach care about observing the difference? Because the two concepts are different and are useful in different scenarios. 

(more…)

Chapter 9 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins (SPaMCAST Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/38G0ZD3) explores the role of the coach in navigation conflict.  Some conflict is always present when humans are involved. Well-managed conflict feeds creativity and is an important component of high-performance teams. Teams without conflict rarely change course or challenge the status quo. A coach can help manage the resolution of conflict. Conflict without a path to resolution will end badly, every time – this might be one of the few things that are absolute in the world (death being another). 

(more…)

Chapter 8 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins is “Coach as Problem Solver”. After reading this chapter for the third or fourth time, I think the title should have been “repressing your inner action hero.” That of course would not fit the sequence of chapter titles and would have been too many characters. Kidding aside, many coaches struggle with falling into the trap of solving problems. During my first read of this chapter, my main takeaway was the admonition, “take it to the team.” Teams understand the context they live in better than any coach. They are the ones that are going to have to embrace the solution. Solving any problem for someone makes the solution yours, not theirs which reduces motivation to embrace the solution. Bringing problems to the team and then facilitating is a great prescription but that means learning not to shift into action hero mode.

(more…)

As a coach, I suspect I spend more time facilitating and observing than playing any other sub-role. Chapter 6, titled Coach as Facilitator, provides a number of gems that piqued my interest more during this read than in the first. Like the author, many of us come to coaching from a more activist role. In earlier career incarnations I viewed myself as an action hero. I got things done by adding pushing, prodding and actually doing real work. Jumping up in the middle of the night to help rectify a system crash was who I was. An Agile Coach’s role is different, we exist to help the people we are working with to become more agile and to deliver more value (the two goal conundrum mentioned in Chapter 5). Acting as a whip or doing work doesn’t help the team or organization develop. Action heroes rarely grow teams, they grow themselves – it was a hard lesson for me. Facilitation is the replacement for our individual heroics.  

(more…)

Chapter 5 begins Part 2 of Coaching Agile Teams. During my initial read of this book, I found Part 2 the most immediately useful. During this re-read, I reflect less on techniques to engage people and teams and more on engagements that I have had and where my remit and my behavior took me off track. Understanding where things have gone wrong is a step to changing my behavior. Don’t 12-step programs all need you to admit that you have a problem before you can progress? As a human being, the only way to improve is to reflect on your behavior and thoughts; unfortunately, it is a skill that is rarely taught and even more seldom practiced. To be a good agile coach, or in the author’s words, a coach-mentor, introspection has to be a well-honed practice. The first time I read this part of the Coaching Agile Team, I did not understand the ramification of getting this practice even slightly wrong.

(more…)

Chapter 4 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins, discusses the idea that a team, individual, or organization follows a path from a learner, to mastery to a teacher using the Shu Ha Ri metaphor. The concept of Shu Ha Ri represents a continuum of learning. In martial arts or any demonstrable activity, practitioners must learn and practice before they can take the next step forward. Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset, postulated that even the most gifted athletes need an open mindset to succeed in the long run. To progress across the continuum of learning everyone needs to put in the work. I suspect that for many, the Shu state is the hardest to accept because we all want to believe we are special and we are all impatient to meet the prize of mastery.

(more…)
Can you see the man in the moon?

Over the past week, I spent an amazing week at Agile 2022. My goal was to be re-radicalized. I reconnected with friends, made new friends, learned a new personal pronoun (while not me, it really works well), picked up a bunch of swag, learned a ton, got re-energized and re-radicalized, and got Covid19. I could have done without the latter. I will get better but right now this is #7 on my personal least fun list. We will hopefully be back to Re-read Saturday next week when I can concentrate and stop falling asleep. in the interim, an essay I re-read once every couple of months when I am looking for a different perspective

I Can See The Man In The Moon

(more…)
Listen Now

This week we make a quick side trip. Earlier this week I was asked why I “did” the Re-read Saturday column. Today, I offer a short explanation and highlight the experiments I am running as part of our re-read of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins.

We also have a visit from Jon M. Quigley. In this installment of his Alpha and Omega of Product Development, Jon and I discuss the role of the team lead in agile teams that have coaches, scrum masters, and just might be self-organizing. There is a role but it is not the classic version that is in common use.

Why Do I “Do” Re-read Saturday.

Re-read Saturday is a long-running column featured on my blog (tcagley.wordpress.com) and at tomcagley.com. The books selected for the column are nominated and then voted on by readers. Because most books are selected by the acclaim from readers of the blog, the re-read is sometimes actually the first read for me. During the re-read we read, discuss, and highlight concepts chapter by chapter. 

There are three major reasons for the column. One, the column draws eyes. A blog without readers is a diary. Over the years, many of the top 10 annual posts have been from the re-read feature. A second reason, and perhaps the original reason was that I had not read some of these books before and really needed to read them. For some of the other books we have re-read, the re-read drove home the point that memory erodes over time. For example, I am embarrassed to say I had forgotten the story of Herby (check out the re-read of The Goal). Reason two is that the re-read is a forcing function to guide behavior. The books we read and re-read help shape how we behave. The third reason is that the column generates a lot of interaction. I have heard from readers and authors with ideas and opinions. The interactions have certainly improved my understanding of how work is done and how to improve. The level of interaction suggests that the readers get similar benefits.

Recently, I decided to run weekly experiments based on the chapter I am reading. The weekly experiment is another forcing function. Doing the activity drives home a point so it is harder to forget. For example from the re-read of Chapter 2 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins titled Expect High Performance I am focusing on using metaphors to guide behaviors. As an experiment, I am establishing a metaphor for myself. The goal is to see whether having a metaphor changes my behavior. The concept of the weekly experiment might end up being the best reason for me to “do” Re-read Saturday and perhaps the best reason for you, the reader, to participate.

PS — I am not convinced that the person that asked was really looking for this much information. I actually think they we asking why read books at all when you watch videos which lead us to a different discussion which I will share another day. 

Finally, have you downloaded the book referenced in last week’s interview? Check out Seeing Money Clearly at www.agileagonist.com 

Re-read Saturday News

This week, Chapter 2 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins (SPaMCAST Amazon affiliate line https://amzn.to/38G0ZD3 – buy a copy). The chapter’s title is Expect High Performance. As a coach, you need to have high expectations of yourself and those you are coaching. 

Remember to buy a copy of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins and read along.

Previous Installments

Week 1: Logistics and Introductionhttps://bit.ly/3A1aNTe 

Week 2: Will I Be A Good Coachhttps://bit.ly/3nzDAHg 

Week 3: Expect High Performancehttps://bit.ly/3Rl4fFf 

Next SPaMCAST 

Jim Benson has a new book titled, The Collaboration Equation. The first sentence in the description of the book is:

 “It is the base of the human condition, we need other people in order to live, but always seem to be at odds with each other.”

We went from there,

This week we are re-reading Chapter 2 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins (SPaMCAST Amazon affiliate line https://amzn.to/38G0ZD3 – buy a copy). The basic idea that permeates this chapter is in the title. As a coach, you need to have high expectations of yourself and those you are coaching.

(more…)

This week, Chapter 1 of Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins (SPaMCAST Amazon affiliate line https://amzn.to/38G0ZD3 – buy a copy). The chapter tackles more than just the question embedded in the title exploring why a coach is needed, the path to becoming a coach and the mindsets, and skills a coach needs.   

When I was a youth I played some sports more or less competently, I did not say competitively.  All of the organized endeavors had coaches. I still argue chess was a sport and yes, we did have a coach. When we had good coaches I learned and got better; when the title coach was a stretch, I usually got bored, lost all motivation, and at some point wandered away. When I entered the workplace, coaches were replaced with bosses and an occasional mentor even though I was still working almost exclusively in teams. I missed having coaches although the management text I read inferred that the role of a manager includes coaching. The problem was (and still is), that bosses rarely came close to playing even a mediocre coaching role. That is not an indictment, but rather an assertion based on more than a few years of observing the world around me. One of the most significant innovations that agile has given to the business world is reintroducing organizations to the idea of a coach. In many organizations the term coach is cool, everyone wants to be one regardless of skill and capability. A few years ago I watched as a person I knew took an online course and exam over a single weekend and then announced they were a coach. In Chapter 1 the author asks, “Will I Be A Good Coach?” and then provides a framework to think about that question. When I first read this book, I did not spend much time considering the nuances of this chapter, I should have.

(more…)