Book Notes #19: Coaching Agile Teams - Lyssa Adkins

William Meller - Coaching Agile Teams - Lyssa Adkins
Coaching Agile Teams gives agile coaches the insights to adopt this new mindset and to guide teams to extraordinary performance and environment.


Title: Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition
Author: Lyssa Adkins
Themes: Agile, Career, Cases, Technology, Management, Business
Year: 2010
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional
ISBN: 0321660358, 9780321660350
Pages: 352

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.

The subtitle of this book says it is for ‘Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers,’ however, its guidance and advice extend to anyone associated with an agile team.

More and more frequently, Scrum Masters 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 mindset.

William Meller - Coaching Agile Teams - Lyssa Adkins

In Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa Adkins gives agile coaches the insights they need to adopt this new mindset and guide teams to extraordinary performance in a re-energized work environment. 

Some key insights and learnings from the book include:

 - The importance of understanding and embracing the agile values and principles, and using them as a foundation for coaching and leading agile teams.

 - The importance of creating a safe and collaborative environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, and are empowered to make decisions.

 - The importance of effective communication, both within the team and with stakeholders, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the team is able to deliver value to the customer.

 - The importance of continuous improvement, both for the team and for the individual team members, to ensure that the team is constantly learning and improving.

 - The importance of effective problem-solving and decision-making, and how to use techniques like root cause analysis and retrospection to identify and address problems.

 - The importance of understanding and managing different personalities and communication styles, and how to use this understanding to build a more cohesive and effective team.

My Book Highlights:

"... We practice mastering ourselves in the moment so that we can better open ourselves to being a servant leader and to harness our emotions and choose what to do with our reactions..."

"... To be full of love and enthusiasm for your work is a prerequisite for collaboration, a professional obligation..."

"... Clients’ needs change. What the team can do is known only to them and changes over time. The world moves at an unbelievably fast pace and creates situations no one could have foreseen. You cannot make a commitment on anyone else’s behalf and expect committed behavior from them..."

"... When coaching product owners, your job is to help them get that one combination criterion—business value—to the top of their definition of priority..."

"... A ScrumMaster who takes teams beyond getting agile practices up and running into their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance is an agile coach..."

"... Agile coaching matters because it helps in both of these areas—producing products that matter in the real, complex, and uncertain world, and adding meaning to people’s work lives..."

"... Teams that fail together and recover together are much stronger and faster than ones that are protected..."

"... A friend loves you just the way you are. A coach loves you too much to let you stay that way..."

"... The most important thing you can do in the face of your mistake is to model the agile value of openness. Transparently and with humility, simply own up to the impact of the mistake, and apologize for it. Tell the team which agile value or principle your mistake undermined so they can learn from your example..."

"... Agile coaching is more about who you are and what behaviors you model than it is about any specific technique or idea you bring to the team..."

"... Agile is easy to get going yet hard to do well. Many reasons collude to make this so. Chief among them is that agile exposes the dirt people have been sweeping under the rug for years. Who wants to look at that? Yet, we must..."

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.

Chapters of the Book:

Chapter 1: Will I Be a Good Coach?
  Why Agile Coaching Matters
  The Agile Coaching Context
  Let’s Get Our Language Straight
  Move Toward Agile Coaching
  An Agile Coach Emerges
  Native Wiring
  Make Agile Coaching Your Personal Expression
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 2: Expect High Performance
  Set the Expectation
  Introduce a Metaphor for High Performance
  The Destination Never Comes
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 3: Master Yourself
  Start with Self-Awareness
  Recover from Command-and-Control
  Prepare for the Day Ahead
  Practice in the Moment
  Be a Model for Them
  Support Yourself
  Always Work on Yourself
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 4: Let Your Style Change
  Agile Team Stages
  Agile Coach Styles
  Feel Free to Let Your Style Change
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 5: Coach as Coach-Mentor
  What Is Agile Coaching?
  What Are We Coaching For?
  Coaching at Two Levels
  Coaching People One-on-One
  Coaching Product Owners
  Coaching Agile Coaches
  Coaching Agile Managers
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 6: Coach as Facilitator
  Wield a Light Touch
  Facilitate the Stand-Up
  Facilitate Sprint Planning
  Facilitate the Sprint Review
  Facilitate the Retrospective
  Facilitate During Team Conversations
  Professional Facilitator and Agile Coach
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 7: Coach as Teacher
  Teach During the Team Start-Up
  Teach New Team Members
  Use Teachable Moments
  Teach Agile Roles All the Time
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 8: Coach as Problem Solver
  An Agile Problem Solving Rubric
  Problems Arise and Are Sought
  See Problems Clearly
  Resolve Problems
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 9: Coach as Conflict Navigator
  The Agile Coach’s Role in Conflict
  Five Levels of Conflict
  What Level of Conflict Is Present?
  What Should You Do About It?
  Carrying Complaints
  Unsolvable Conflict
  A Last Word on Conflict
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 10: Coach as Collaboration Conductor
  Collaboration or Cooperation?
  From Cooperation to Collaboration
  Build Individual Collaborators
  Surplus Ideas Required
  Build the Team’s Collaboration Muscle
  Reveal the Heart of Collaboration
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 11: Agile Coach Failure, Recovery, and Success Modes
  Agile Coach Failure Modes
  Where Do Failure Modes Come From?
  Recover from Failure Modes
  Agile Coach Success Modes
  Practice, Practice
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 12: When Will I Get There?
  Agile Coach Skills
  Beyond a List of Skills
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

Chapter 13: It’s Your Journey
  Agile Coach Journeys
  A Refresher
  Additional Resources

In conclusion, Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins is an excellent resource for anyone looking to lead and coach agile teams. 

The book provides a comprehensive understanding of the agile values and principles, and how to use them as a foundation for coaching and leading teams. 

It also offers practical guidance on how to create a safe and collaborative environment, effective communication, continuous improvement, problem-solving, decision-making, and managing different personalities. 

Whether you are a seasoned agile coach or just starting out, this book is a must-read for anyone looking to lead and coach high-performing agile teams.

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. She teaches the “Coaching Agile Teams” training course, which allows agile coaches to learn, practice, and deepen the skills and mindsets offered in the book.

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1 comment:

  1. Coaching agile teams is a challenge! Thanks for the book notes!