on coaching agile teams

Today’s webinar on “Confessions and Coaching for Leading Agile Teams”, hosted by PMI Agile, was well-attended (at least 324 people) and insightful. Here’s a brief summary of Lyssa Adkins‘ key points.

[The webinar was marred only by a few technical problems: un-muted children of an attendee in the background, and some key slides that showed blank in the Acrobat Connect Pro session. The noise impediment was quickly ‘bulldozed’ away by competent moderators, and the slides will be posted afterwards in addition to the webinar recording to help compensate for the second issue.]

The ‘confessions’ part of the webinar consisted of announcing the winners of the contest. Update: The videos are available online via the PMI Agile wiki page for Confessions of an Agile Project Manager videos.

The bulk of the webinar was Lyssa, talking about her lessons learned in coaching agile teams as a ‘recovering command-and-control-aholic’. I won’t go into details here, since the entire webinar should be available online within 24 hrs. In brief she covered 8 ‘radical thoughts’, followed by some further confessions and thoughts on how to improve effectiveness as an agile coach:

  1. Be detached from outcomes
  2. Take it to the team
  3. Be a mirror
  4. Master your face (be sure it shows you believe in the team)
  5. Let there be silence (learn to “get comfortable with uncomfortable silence”)
  6. Model being outrageous (to help team members “see brick walls'”)
  7. Let the team fail (at small things, all the time – they’ll get stronger)
  8. Be their biggest fan (on how they’re growing as a team and as individuals) 

The second half of Lyssa’s talk focused on becoming a better coach by improving both your agile mentoring skills and your professional coaching skills. She compared being an agile coach to being a river raft guide: the trip down the river is different every time, but experience helps greatlywith knowing where to rest, how to help the team navigate around hazards, and how to get people back into the raft and moving downstream again after a spill.

Her closing point: Agile coaching is “40% doing, 60% being” – it’s important to be what you want your teams to do, to walk the talk of commitment, simplicity, etc. Journaling and finding a ‘reflective surface’ can help.

In short, good stuff. I’ll definitely be downloading the slides and getting the webinar recording. I’ve already signed up for her free weekly coaching inspiration emails, and her book’s now moved higher up in my wish list.

3 Responses to “on coaching agile teams”

  1. Lyssa Adkins says:

    Thanks for the round-up on the talk. It is always hard to know if I'm “coming through” in a webinar setting – especially with that many people in attendance. Your points show that I was coming through, so thanks for that – and thanks for sharing your wisdom.

  2. Karen says:

    My pleasure, Lyssa! I really enjoyed your talk, and I'm happy if my writeup provided you with a small, but useful, reflective surface 😉

  3. Karen says:

    My pleasure, Lyssa! I really enjoyed your talk, and I'm happy if my writeup provided you with a small, but useful, reflective surface 😉