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Coaching, Coding and Learning By George Evjen
Book Notes from 'Coaching Agile Teams' By Lyssa Adkins


Coach as Problem Solver

  • I used to solve problems for team
  • Looking ahead and solving problems I thought were coming even though they hadnt happened yet
    • Issues and risk management.
  • When I started working agile - brought problems solving skills with me
  • Caught me in the act of solving problems for a team - gave a look
    • "are you sure you really want to do that?"
  • Problem solving mode - doing something for someone else, which is really -doing something to someone else.
  • "it’s the teams commitment - not yours"
  • Teams will get wind of the changes -
    • Involve us when the decisions impact us
  • No one should be making decisions without consulting the people who have to live with the results.
  • Lesson: take it to the team
  • Helps the coaches see the problems clearly and enlist the help of the team.


An Agile Problem Solving Rubric

  • It’s the teams commitment - not yours
  • Whether a team acts or doesn’t act when confronted with a problem - rests with them, not with you.
  • If you take it up and carry it for them, you have excused them from doing with it takes to meet the promises they made.


Problems Arise and Are Sought

  • Resist the temptation to solve problems immediately  - instead escape - very few problems require immediate action.
  • The next time you see a potential problem, hold yourself back from addressing it - and see whether the problem becomes a real problem.
  • Realized how few of the future problems actually came true.
  • Teach the team what you think they are missing
  • If the team violates a rule of agile and you feel strongly about it - put your foot down.
    • Otherwise - its your opinion of what they should do - leave it up to them
    • They are the ones that have to live with the consequences.


Problems, Problems Everywhere

  • Welcome problems they bring with them the chance for the team to overcome, grow and become stronger together.
  • As the agile coach - attend to multiple perspectives to detect these symptoms.
    • The process level : how are we doing with agile.
    • The quality and performance angle : how can the team produce better
    • The team dynamics dimension : how can the team become a better team
  • Where are we weak.
  • Every team has something to work on next.


Problems at the Process Level

  • To detect problems at the process level, use health checks -
    • Health check in the form of a questionnaire.
  • Remember the basic ingredients of agile.
  • Consider anew - does the team truly adhere to their agile processes.
  • Health check - specific to either scrum or extreme programming.
  • Health check come when the agile coach uses it to reflect on the teams process
    • How are we doing with agile.
  • Health check carried out in two steps
    • Questionnaire
    • Conversation


Problems from the Quality and Performance Angle

  • To expose lurking problems - inspect the products the team created together.
    • Did the team product real value?
    • Is the quality something they should be proud of?
  • The agile coach has all the authority needed to look at the team's products with a critical eye.
  • It does not mean that the coach faces quality and performance problems squarely.
  • The next reflection
    • 'how can the team produce better?


Problems in the Team Dynamics Dimension

  • Use these questions as a pathway to reflection - an agile coach can gain insight into potential team problems or areas for growth.
  • BART - Boundary, Authority, Role, Task
    • Comes to agile coaches from the GR domain
    • When teams go wrong, the source of trouble can be linked to one or more of these dimensions of team life.
    • Roles
      • Are all formally defined roles in your agile framework occupied by specific individuals
      • Are all formal roles functioning within role boundaries.
      • Is any one person taking up more than one formal role defined in your agile framework.
      • If the team has added additional formal roles, are these roles completely described.
    • Tasks
      • Does the team get great clarity about their team purpose.
      • Can someone distinguish all the different tasks
    • Authority
      • Is authority of each role clearly specified.
      • Do team members 'take up' formal authority appropriately
    • Boundaries
      • Do people work within the boundaries of the authority granted by their agile role.
      • How do team members grant one another the authority
      • What are the various turf boundaries on the team.
  • We coach agile teams to first uphold agile - then to inspect and adapt to continuously improve.
  • Look for places where the people filling basic agile roles are not performing
  • To have a workable agile team - the members must be aware of the agree-to roles, the boundaries and the authority that goes along with each of them.


See Problems Clearly

  • You need reflection time to see it clearly to get past the symptoms and down to one or more potential causes.
  • Sleep on It
    • Most problems that come up on agile teams can be solved by strengthening or reaffirming an agile practice.
    • Sleep on it - ask 'what in agile already gives us what we need in this situation.'
  • Question Yourself.
    • Ruminate on questions such as these.
      • If I could do anything in the world - what would it be.
      • Whats at stake here
      • If the situation were already perfectly solved - what would it be like
    • Somewhere in there will be the angle that makes the situation come into focus.
    • Taking action requires the teams involvement.
  • Pair with another coach.
    • Pair with another coach who can pose the questions to you
    • Create a place where you can bring your most vexing problems.
    • You receive advice from an outsiders perspective and perhaps a challenge or two.
  • Go to the source
    • Why don’t you review the agile manifesto and the 12 principles that stand behind it.
      • See which of these are not true for the team.
    • The agile manifesto, 12 principles and the high performance tree represent more than lofty statements of intent - they are diagnostics, useful on a daily basis.
Posted on Monday, August 8, 2016 4:27 PM Agile | Back to top

Comments on this post: Coaching Agile Teams - 10

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There lots of important points to learn from this information. - Marla Ahlgrimm
Left by Wayne Dalton on Sep 01, 2016 2:59 AM

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