Conversations with coaches

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Inspired by John Cutler, a list of thoughts, idea’s and considerations that have surfaced during recent conversations with Mark Dalgarno, Jason Yip, Elaine Aitken, and Victoria Mitchell around the topic of internal agile coaching.

  • Start by asking your team(s) what help they need “If you could get agile coaching for this Timebox what would it be?”
  • Make coaching a regular ritual, build it into your current process, e.g. at the end of a retrospective you could get the team to decide which of the improvements/actions they’d like assistance from a coach
  • Document and categorise retrospective actions into key themes so you can observe common issues across the company
  • Have a shared backlog of improvements
  • Get an agile coach to facilitate milestone retrospectives so the whole team can participate e.g. midpoint of project, end of project.
  • Try having a real-time retrospective, ask team member’s to add #retro to comments in Slack and when you’ve got a few, hold a retrospective regardless on when the next one is booked in
  • Allow time for team members working on improvements in the backlog to down tools. Don’t make them choose between delivery and improvements.
  • One way to do this is to give one member a gold card each Sprint which reduces their capacity to do delivery allowing them to do other stuff to move the team forward in some way
  • Hold company awards for the best improvements
  • Look at yourself — look at where you can remove obstacles and inefficiencies
  • Look at ways you can create more space to open up these conversations, generally, people are busy, if you can provide the space these conversations will naturally start to happen more
  • Have 1:1’s with different people in rotation, focus on people who have high influence, the circle of influence will grow through them. Ask them questions like “If things are perfect — what would be the difference from where we are now?”
  • Hold a meeting and make the primary focus face to face time, no agenda — just the team spending time together
  • Ask people if they’d like to join a community of interest and meet once a month to discuss continuous improvement across the organisation. This provides an opportunity to share learnings across teams, share techniques that people have tried, watch a video and critique it, invite guest speakers, try the lean coffee format
  • Provide an Agile clinic drop-in — dedicated time and place for people to come and bring a problem or ask a question
  • Hold an internal conference where people can submit talks to share learnings across teams
  • Write playbooks
  • Don’t forget to provide coaching to leaders as well as to your teams
  • Focus your energy at the company level, not at the individual level. You will never have the time and a model like this will fail to scale.

What techniques have you tried and found to be successful?

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