Coaching Agile Teams

Transmitting human experience through written material is not easy. As Rachel Davies did in “Agile Coaching”, Lyssa Adkins manages to do it brilliantly in this book that covers the same topic. Based on her own experience of “recovering command-and-control project manager”, she write about all the circumstances where you can coach people, explaining both what you should and shouldn’t do.
With a lot of modest comments about the fact that being a good coach is a journey and not a status, the book is structured around the different aspects of coaching (mentoring, facilitating, teaching, …) It provides both a conceptual view backed by experience reports and some “tools” and check-lists that will help coaches. My favorite parts are two lists presenting the preferred abilities that agile coaches should have and the failures modes that a coach could encounter.

This is a very well written book that I will warmly recommend to everyone working in software development. Its message is not only about coaching or managing software developers, but rather encompass the whole values of working together in project teams.

Reference: “Coaching Agile Teams”, Lyssa Adkins, 315 pages, IBSN 978-0-321-63770-3

Quotes

“To figure out how to coach from the center, providing just the right touch, you must first understand a few things about the world you coach in and the people you coach.”

“Believe it or not, you are not the best person to solve the problem, whether the problem lies with the product the teams create or with the way the team works together. Every time you think you need to solve something, stop and raise the observations to the team instead. Let them tell you the root cause and what they will do about it (if anything). If you diagnose the problem and implement a solution, you run the risk of being way off base. Worse, you have subtly undermined the team’s ability to solve its own problems.”

“Behavior change happens, but it happens slowly. It may take several tries from different angles before a team changes their stand-up behavior. Be patient. Keep trying. They will change when they need to, but only if you don’t shield them from natural consequences that follow from poor stand-ups.”

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