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Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition

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Overview

The Provocative and Practical Guide to Coaching Agile Teams

As an agile coach, you can help project teams become outstanding at agile, creating products that make them proud and helping organizations reap the powerful benefits of teams that deliver both innovation and excellence.

More and more frequently, ScrumMasters and project managers are being asked to coach agile teams. But it’s a challenging role. It requires new skills—as well as a subtle understanding of when to step in and when to step back. Migrating from “command and control” to agile coaching requires a whole new mind-set.

In Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa Adkins gives agile coaches the insights they need to adopt this new mind-set and to guide teams to extraordinary performance in a re-energized work environment. You’ll gain a deep view into the role of the agile coach, discover what works and what doesn’t, and learn how to adapt powerful skills from many allied disciplines, including the fields of professional coaching and mentoring.

Coverage includes

  • Understanding what it takes to be a great agile coach
  • Mastering all of the agile coach’s roles: teacher, mentor, problem solver, conflict navigator, and performance coach
  • Creating an environment where self-organized, high-performance teams can emerge
  • Coaching teams past cooperation and into full collaboration
  • Evolving your leadership style as your team grows and changes
  • Staying actively engaged without dominating your team and stunting its growth
  • Recognizing failure, recovery, and success modes in your coaching
  • Getting the most out of your own personal agile coaching journey

Whether you’re an agile coach, leader, trainer, mentor, facilitator, ScrumMaster, project manager, product owner, or team member, this book will help you become skilled at helping others become truly great. What could possibly be more rewarding?

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“ The subtitle of this book says it is for ‘ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers,’ however, its guidance and advice extend to anyone associated with an agile (Scrum) team. It will also certainly help team members better understand their relationship to the work ScrumMasters, agile coaches, and project managers do for the team. And, beyond this, the book can be valuable to anyone working in a coaching capacity with any group of people, expanding the book’s application beyond agile-based efforts.”

—Scott Duncan, Agile Coach

“ Lyssa explains brilliantly how skills from professional coaching can be applied to coaching agile software development teams. What I love about this book is how Lyssa brings practical advice to life by relating it to everyday experiences we all recognize. An essential guide for every agile manager’s bookshelf.”

—Rachel Davies, author of Agile Coaching

“ As I read this book I could actually hear Lyssa’s voice, guiding me and sparking precious ‘a-ha moments.’ This truly is the next best thing to having an experienced and wise coach sitting by your side, helping you be the best coach you can be for your team.”

—Kris Blake, agile coach

“ Lyssa Adkins presents agile coaching in a gentle style with firm underpinnings. She resolves the paradox of how coaching can help a team to self-organize, and shows how a nurturing environment can push teams to perform better than ever.”

—Bill Wake, Industrial Logic, Inc.

“ I love Lyssa’s three qualities of an agile coach—loving, compassionate, uncompromising—sweet. Every chapter offers a compelling blend of philosophy and action, framework and freedom, approach and avoidance, as any agile book should. Coaching Agile Teams is a good candidate to become dog-eared on my desktop rather than looking good on my bookshelf. The depth and quality of expertise that Lyssa sought, sampled, and sounded out along her own coaching journey have been synthesized in her own voice of experience.”

—Christopher Avery, Responsibility Process mentor, www.LeadershipGift.com

“ In my experience with agile projects, the agile coach is one of the most important roles to get right. Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins gives the details and practical insights for what it takes to be a great agile coach.”

—Dave Hendricksen, software architect, Thomson-Reuters

“ I remember the first time I met Lyssa at a Scrum gathering in Orlando, and realized very quickly how inspirational she would become in the agile community. This book encapsulates her thoughts and ideas into a fantastic literary work that, I believe, fills a void in our community. We knew the role of a coach was needed, but for a long time we were not sure what that role actually was. We struggled as a community to explain what to do, when to do it, and what to do next. Lyssa not only collates all of the things we as coaches aspire to be, but has provided some great advice with realistic direction on how to be the best coach you can be for your team.”

—Martin Kearns, CSC + CST, Principal Consultant, Renewtek ply. Ltd.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Lyssa Adkins has taught Scrum to hundreds of students, coached many agile teams, and served as master coach to many apprentice coaches since 2004. Coaching coaches one-on-one and in small groups, she enjoys a front-row seat as remarkable agile coaches emerge and go on to entice the very best from the teams they coach. Prior to agile, Adkins had more than fifteen years of expertise leading project teams and groups of project managers in large and small consulting firms, commercial software companies, and the Fortune 500, yet nothing prepared her for the power of agile done simply and well. She teaches the “Coaching Agile Teams” training course, which allows agile coaches to learn, practice, and deepen the skills and mind-sets offered in the book.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Mike Cohn xiii

Foreword by Jim Highsmith xv

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction xix

About the Author xxv

Part I: It Starts with You 1

Chapter 1: Will I Be a Good Coach? 3

Why Agile Coaching Matters 4

The Agile Coaching Context 5

Let’s Get Our Language Straight 8

Move Toward Agile Coaching 9

An Agile Coach Emerges 15

Native Wiring 16

Make Agile Coaching Your Personal Expression 18

A Refresher 18

Additional Resources 19

Chapter 2: Expect High Performance 21

Set the Expectation 22

Introduce a Metaphor for High Performance 23

The Destination Never Comes 29

A Refresher 30

Additional Resources 30

References 31

Chapter 3: Master Yourself 33

Start with Self-Awareness 35

Recover from Command-and-Control-ism 40

Prepare for the Day Ahead 43

Practice in the Moment 46

Be a Model for Them 53

Support Yourself 53

Always Work on Yourself 54

A Refresher 55

Additional Resources 55

References 56

Chapter 4: Let Your Style Change 59

Agile Team Stages 60

Agile Coach Styles 64

Feel Free to Let Your Style Change 67

A Refresher 70

Additional Resources 70

References 70

Part II: Helping the Team Get More for Themselves 73

Chapter 5: Coach as Coach-Mentor 75

What Is Agile Coaching? 76

What Are We Coaching For? 77

Coaching at Two Levels 78

Coaching People One-on-One 83

Coaching Product Owners 97

Coaching Agile Coaches 107

Coaching Agile Managers 109

A Refresher 114

Additional Resources 114

References 115

Chapter 6: Coach as Facilitator 117

Wield a Light Touch 119

Facilitate the Stand-Up 119

Facilitate Sprint Planning 123

Facilitate the Sprint Review 128

Facilitate the Retrospective 132

Facilitate During Team Conversations 136

Professional Facilitator and Agile Coach 142

A Refresher 143

Additional Resources 143

References 144

Chapter 7: Coach as Teacher 145

Teach During the Team Start-Up 146

Teach New Team Members 169

Use Teachable Moments 170

Teach Agile Roles All the Time 170

A Refresher 180

Additional Resources 181

References 181

Chapter 8: Coach as Problem Solver 183

An Agile Problem Solving Rubric 185

Problems Arise and Are Sought 186

See Problems Clearly 192

Resolve Problems 196

A Refresher 200

Additional Resources 201

References 201

Chapter 9: Coach as Conflict Navigator 203

The Agile Coach’s Role in Conflict 204

Five Levels of Conflict 204

What Level of Conflict Is Present? 207

What Should You Do About It? 211

Carrying Complaints 217

Unsolvable Conflict 221

A Last Word on Conflict 225

A Refresher 226

Additional Resources 226

References 226

Chapter 10: Coach as Collaboration Conductor 229

Collaboration or Cooperation? 231

From Cooperation to Collaboration 232

Build Individual Collaborators 233

Surplus Ideas Required 238

Build the Team’s Collaboration Muscle 239

Reveal the Heart of Collaboration 251

A Refresher 253

Additional Resources 253

References 254

Part III: Getting More for Yourself 257

Chapter 11: Agile Coach Failure, Recovery, and Success Modes 259

Agile Coach Failure Modes 260

Where Do Failure Modes Come From? 261

Recover from Failure Modes 263

Agile Coach Success Modes 266

Practice, Practice 268

A Refresher 269

Additional Resources 269

References 270

Chapter 12: When Will I Get There? 271

Agile Coach Skills 272

Beyond a List of Skills 279

A Refresher 285

Additional Resources 286

References 286

Chapter 13: It’s Your Journey 287

Agile Coach Journeys 288

A Refresher 305

Additional Resources 305

References 305

Index 307

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 3, 2010

    Great book that teaches how to think like a coach

    Coaching of all forms--whether of kids playing basketball or software professionals learning to ScrumMasters or other agile leaders--is difficult. The advice given often boils down to "here's how I do it..." or "you should always do..." The first style of advice fails because the coach's personal style may differ dramatically from the apprentice's style. Techniques that appear honest and sincere when one person uses them may appear forced and artificial when used by another. The second style fails because it is directive and ignores important differences in context between two coaching opportunities. In "Coaching Agile Teams," Lyssa Adkins avoids both of these traps.

    It would be easy to write a book like "101 Coaching Situations and What to Do in Them." Such a book would present a problem and offer good advice for that situation. If the book was done well, readers could leave the book knowing what to do in precisely 101 situations. But the reader of uch a book would not know what to do about the million other problems he or she is likely to encounter as a coach or ScrumMaster.

    The reader of that imaginary book would not have learned how to think through coaching situations. Adkins' book is very different. Her book teaches you to think like a coach. You won't leave this book with 101 memorized solutions to problems, but you will leave knowing dozens and dozens of new tools and ways of approaching situations. These will allow you to solve just about any coaching challenge I can imagine.

    Throughout the book, Adkins points out that one thing a good coach does is look for teaching or coaching opportunities. These are the perfect moments for a coach to make a point and for others to learn from it. I encountered many such perfect opportunities while reading "Coaching Agile Teams." Adkins was able to teach me numerous, practical things in each chapter. I am confident others will also learn a great deal from this book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted February 15, 2012

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