What Does an Agile Coach Do?
Agile coaches attempt to influence teams in different ways. Our experience is that agile coaches typically work by instinct and intuition. This makes it very hard to explain what coaches do and difficult to teach people how to coach agile teams. Richard Hackman claims in his book “Leading Teams” that there a three basic types of coaching intervention: Motivational, Consultative, Educational. We want to test out that theory and explore about what Agile Coaches really do. We aim to uncover specific coaching interventions that participants have tried and whether these interventions helped.
The workshop starts with a brief slide presentation on the role of an agile coach and Hackman’s model of coaching interventions.
Next participants will move into working in small groups between 3-6 people around a table. We will distribute scenario sheet between the groups. Each scenario sheet describes a typical problem an agile coach is likely to encounter. Here are a few examples: developers only make software available to testers on last day of iteration, daily standup meeting takes a long time, continuous integration tests are not fixed by team if they are failing, one developer objects to pair programming, managers put pressure on team to commit to more than their velocity, etc.
Each work group discusses what interventions they would try as an agile coach faced with the scenario on the worksheet. The work group then discusses the pros and cons of the different interventions and adds it to the sheet. When each scenario has been discussed, it is passed to the next group. This is repeated so each group has worked on three or four scenarios.
The next step is to review the coaching interventions and indicate whether you think they fall in the following categories Motivational, Consultative, Educational, and Other.
This opens into a discussion with the whole group on aspects of agile coaching revealed by the group work.
Now we start to distill the ideas into a mind map of what agile coaches do. Each work group will take a turn to present their mind map to the session group.
00:00-00:10 Slide presentation
01:05-01:30 Mind maps to summarize
- Share experiences about coaching agile teams.
- Get new ideas on how to coach teams and also discover what to avoid.
- Test the Hackman theory that there are three types of intervention.
- Get a clearer picture of what coaches do.
- Create mind maps that help us understand the role of the agile coach.