Agile Coaching isn’t an easy sport to play… and when you have an entire group of Agile Coaches working together at a client, it can get even more hairy.
Leading a group of Agile Coaches is like herding cats… cat’s with a lot of expertise, knowledge, and even a bit of ego. A couple of tips when working with multiple coaches.
Multiple Agile Coaches – 5 Tips
- Ego Aside – Put your ego aside, we’re all here to do one thing: Service the client and help them deliver. At the end of the day, delivery is key. “Servant Leadership” comes to mind here…
- Coach Alignment on Engagement– Spend some intentional time with the other coaches to align on how to engage with the (common client). Last thing you want are “turf wars” or “religious wars” around how best to estimate, do planning, etc. etc. Make it a pizza and beer night. Get all the coaches together and go through a list of common themes/ceremonies/artifacts and get everyone playing by the same book. I did this with multiple coaches [SEE EXAMPLE BELOW FOR WHAT WE AGREED ON]
- Coordination of Roles/Duties/Expertise – Some coaches excel at certain areas. Allow them to flourish in that. Not EVERYONE needs to be “scaling agile.” Look, we all need to coach teams at some point, but not everyone needs to be into everything. Split up duties, take on roles that work within your skill set. If a coach is great at ATDD and dev-ops stuff, let them have it! If two coaches want to attack the executive level, figure out what works.
- Collaborate – Multiple coaches means that it’s hard to pin down where they are and what they’re doing. Use a common communication platform if coaches are in different locations. Use an agile or scrum tool if necessary to collaborate and communicate. Do a daily standup to talk about how we can all help each other. Look, as sick as it sounds, sometimes tool-agnostic coaches have to use tools to work together (me included)!
- Leverage and learn from each other – When do you get to work with some of the best Agile Coaches in the world under one roof? Answer: Not very often. Bleed each other for knowledge and free consulting. As iron sharpens iron, you’ll only get better at your craft.
Example Alignment for Multiple Coaches on a Client:
|Relative Story Points unique to each team||Yes|
|Timeboxes||Yes – 4hr planning, 2 hr demo, 2hr retro, 4hr grooming|
|Sprint Goal?||Yes, but… low priority|
|Finish tasking during Sprint Planning||No, not necessarily… timebox is there for a reason.
|Done each sprint||Yes|
|Demo each sprint||Yes|
|Defects prioritized in backlog||Prioritized within backlog|
|No separate requirements documents||Stop requirements docs|
|TDD / ATDD?||Oh my god no, so many other issues… to address first|
|Story = title + who, what, AND why||Yes|
|Task = how||Yes|
|Use Personnas?||Good, but not a battle to die over|
|Story Pt estimates prior to Sprint planning||Good, but not a battle to die over|
|Sprint Review + (Demo + Retro)?||Sprint Review + Retrospective|
|Three Amigos for estimating?||Yes|
|Impediment board / blocking card||Let the teams do as they want, but need visual indicator!|
|Handling non-functional reqs (operations training)||Depends on situation… story? Task?… as long as its visible|
|Who talks in Standup?||Everyone speaks as a team member|
|Must team stand during standup?||yes|
|Planning poker?||Teach it, but use whatever technique works.|
|Burn-down (hours remaining) chart||Yes, we’re teaching points.|
|Burn-up (points done) chart?||Not yet… agile 102, we’re on 101|
|Team commitment during planning||No, … unless they’re all in the room|
|Consistent calendar (start on Wed)?||For new teams, start on Tue-Wed-Thu|
|How to track Retro actions?||Pick something they have control over, post it, prioritize, assign it, follow up in daily standup, and review at retro|
|Post Team norms||Yes|
|Acceptance criteria required||Yes|
|Story card format/features (pts, owner, etc.)||Leave it to the team.|
|Standup updates by person (not story)||Let team decide|
|Track task hours remaining||Yes, but look for opportunity to stop…|
|Stretch goal vs. pull-in on sprint commitment||Pull-in|
|Definition of Done||Yes|
|Story board orientation||Teach horizontal, not a battle worth fighting|
This is a continuation of our series on “Becoming an Agile Coach”