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Coaching, Coding and Learning By George Evjen

Book Notes from 'Coaching Agile Team' By Lyssa Adkins 

Coach as Facilitator

  • A healthy agile team works together in high-bandwidth, high quality communication.
  • They know the plan on a release by release basis and on a daily basis
  • Another voice on the team discussing todays problem, or I can step fully into this role of agile coach, helping them get better and better.
  • The agile coach facilitates by creating a 'container' for the team to fill up their astounding ideas and innovations
  • With informal conversations, the coach stays focuses on working within the team to increase the quality of their interactions so that they can increase the quality of their products.


Wield a Light Touch

  • Support the team's self-organization, and enhance their ability to deliver real business value all the time.


Facilitate the Stand-Up

  • To organize themselves for the day's work ahead, team members answer these questions.
    • What did I get done since the last stand up
    • What will I do before the next stand up
    • What are the impediments blocking me or slowing me down.
  • Devise a daily work plan, get help clearing barriers, make a commitment to the team.
  • Some things to achieve when they do the stand-up well.
    • Peer Pressure :
      • Healthy agile teams experience peer pressure.
      • All team members have committed to complete the work of the sprint together.
      • This makes the work interdependent and accountable to one another.
    • Fine-Grain Coordination :
      • Team members should have quick focused interchanges during the stand up
      • Fine grain coordination lets the team members know how and when to count on each other.
      • Agile team should expect zero wait time - waiting is waste.
    • Focus on the Few :
      • Everyone readily sees what's sitting in progress and what's really getting done.
    • Daily Commitment :
      • Each team member makes a daily commitment to the team
    • Raising Impediments :
      • Impediments can be brought up in the team at any time.


Facilitate During the Stand Up

  • Reinforce the general cadence of stand-up :
    • Fifteen minutes
    • Three questions
    • No long conversations
    • Whatever other rules your team has come up with.
  • As a guiding principal - don’t intervene during the stand-up, unless you are teaching or reaffirming how stand-up works
  • During the sprint - it’s the teams job to sprint


Fixing the Stand-Up

  • It is hard to determine when to fix the stand-up and when to leave it alone.
  • Make a judgement call based on the interventions potential value vs. its disruption
  • Don’t undermine the team's self-organization
  • Two things that work as interventions
    • Reinforce the purpose of the stand-up:
      • Teach the team what we are trying to achieve using the stand-up
      • How is stand-up working for you.
      • Are you getting these things
    • Ask for eyes and support.
      • The accomplishments and bumps are theirs, not yours
      • Agile works when they learn to rely on one another.
      • Reinforce the purpose of the stand-up


Facilitate Sprint Planning

  •  A set of agenda questions or the list of things we are trying to achieve with sprint planning works well
  • Ensure that it supports the purpose of sprint planning
    • Know the Work
      • For the team to get going on the work ahead, they must understand, choose, task, volunteer
    • Get a Fresh Start
      • No matter how the last sprint ended, this sprint is new.
      • This sprint is the only thing the team can control.
    • Commit to Shared Goals.
      • All team members understand all the work in the sprint and jointly agree to achieve the sprint goal.
    • Create focus and abundance
      • Choose the right amount of work - creates focus
      • Worry only about what you have committed to.


Prepare for Sprint Planning

  • The coach has two jobs when preparing for sprint planning
    • Get a structure together
    • Ensure the product owner has prepared the product backlog
  • The coach makes sure the product owner knows the importance of having the product backlog groomed and ready for sprint planning.
  • Often the product owner will work with the team to groom the backlog
  • How and when to prepare the product backlog and get ready for sprint planning
  • The acronym DEEP
    • Detailed appropriately
    • Estimated
    • Emergent
    • Prioritized.


Facilitate During Sprint Planning

  • Ask the team how long the timebox should be to complete sprint planning
  • The timebox gives the team - exquisite focus and permission to think only about the immediate work ahead.


Teachable Moments during the Sprint Planning

  • Teachable moments are often about the product backlog items the team has just taken into the sprint.
  • Other teachable moments
    • Harp on Business value - keep the goal of delivering value in the forefront
    • Promote strong product ownership
      • Product owner - what gets done - team - how it gets done.
      • And how much effort it will take
    • Uphold healthy role boundaries
      • Between the product owner and the team.
      • Work together for maximum propulsion
    • Improve tasking
      • Teams typically get stuck when the move to tasking.


Facilitate the Sprint Review

  • The agile coach plays a background role when it comes to the sprint review.
  • Show the products developed during that span
  • Remember its purpose.
    • True-up
      • The team made a commitment
    • Show and Tell
      • Show what was accomplished
    • Get Direct Feedback
      • Hear from the stakeholder, customers, users of the products just created.
    • Offer Insights
    • Ask for Help
      • The team raises impediments that they need help eradicating.
  • During sprint review - the coach is insignificant
  • The coach sits back away from the main action
  • Draw your attention to what is happening for your team and to the team.
  • Make observations and take notes.


Observation Types

  • Observe the sprint review in this way.
  • Observations tend to fall into two classes
    • Reinforcing
    • Deepening
  • The reinforcing ones - uphold agile
    • Good for you
    • Oops you missed that one
  • Deepening observations tend to be one that reveal the inner workings of the group
  • Offer your observations without being attached to whether they are right or not.


Facilitate the Retrospective

  • The agile coach plays the starring role in the retrospective - especially for a new team.
  • Since the coach focuses on being the guardian of quality and team performance
  • Keep the purpose of the retrospective in mind
    • Inspect and adapt
    • Look back at how - not what
    • Do even better next time.


Prepare for the Retrospective

  • As the sprint goes on, the agile coach jots down observations about how the team works together.
  • Hold back knowing the retrospective offers the best time for the team to consider them
  • While in a sprint - the team focuses on their commitment.
  • Notice how things are going during the sprint.
  • Check in with a couple team members and the product owner to get their perspective
    • Be careful - don’t start a mini retrospective during this check-in.
  • With these observations and inputs - prepare the retrospective agenda.


Facilitate During the Retrospective

  • An agile coach always makes clear the firm belief that the team knows the right thing to do.
  • Regardless of what does or does not get done during the retrospective - coach keeps the timebox.
  • If team members want to continue they may as long as they agree to a shortened timebox.
  • The coach works toward a constructive outcome - using the agenda to bring them back to the retrospective purpose.


Facilitate After the Retrospective

  • Pay attention to whether the current retrospective agreements get incorporated or forgotten
  • Throughout the sprint - look for situations what allow you to hold the teams agreements up to them
  • As time goes on, the team may be able to facilitate the retrospective themselves.


Facilitate During Team Conversations

  • When the team converses, don’t join in and act as a team member.
  • Help them improve their conversations so that they can come up with higher-quality ideas that translate into the products they build
  • They generate insights and envision an amazing product.
  • Three main tools you can use right now to help the team have quality conversations
    • Powerful Observations
      • Keep a running list of questions in your head as you observe a team in conversation.
      • Keep your observations to yourself for a few minutes to see whether one of the team members picks up on the same thing
    • Powerful Questions
      • They work because they are truly open
      • When you speak a powerful question - followed by dead silence - they are reflecting
      • Reinforce your role as their coach because they carry no judgement.
    • Powerful Challenges
      • Challenging clients has long been a tool used by professional coaches.
      • With a challenge the coach moves the team past where they would normally stop.
      • Break through the assumptions and limitations.
      • Get them dreaming a little bit - in doing so, watch them come up with something even better.



  • Every agile meeting has a specific purpose that answers the question, "why do we do this meeting anyway"
  • Intervene with the team more in the beginning
  • Make a conscious decision before offering anything to a team
  • Get good at being a keen observer.
  • Get out of the content and get into the facilitation
  • Become skilled at delivering powerful observations, powerful questions, powerful challenges.
Posted on Wednesday, August 3, 2016 7:46 PM Agile | Back to top

Comments on this post: Coaching Agile Teams - 7

# re: Coaching Agile Teams - 7
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Coaching is not easy task. You really have to apply the right approach and strategies to be effective in this area. - Marla Ahlgrimm
Left by Wayne Dalton on Sep 01, 2016 3:01 AM

# re: Coaching Agile Teams - 7
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waaaw great teams guy Coaching by prety woman -- Smadav 2018 free download
Left by Fariell Fand on Feb 09, 2017 9:43 AM

# re: Coaching Agile Teams - 7
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very usefull , thankSmadav 2018 Free Download
Left by noahriel on Apr 11, 2017 11:39 PM

# re: Coaching Agile Teams - 7
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That looks amazing dude and thanks you so much for the information - Avast 2018 Free Download
Left by Rimung Saket on Jun 17, 2017 6:10 AM

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