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Agile Coach -or- Transition Guide to Agility

A good dialogue on what it means to be an Agile Coach on Quora - http://www.quora.com/What-is-an-Agile-Coach

Buckminster Fuller wrote in his 1970 book I Seem To Be a Verb:

"I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing — a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process – an integral function of the universe."

Much of the coaching I enjoy doing is about being a "Transition Guide" toward Agility. My thinking on this is that I don't want to have to wear the Kevlar vest of the Change Agent. I prefer to model the behaviors of the best guides I've had the pleasure of knowing - the community of Outward Bound guides I've learned so much from.  And the role of a true coach is one totally focused upon the client's needs (not the sponsor's desires for the client).  That ethical constraint is not respected in the Agile community.

These are people that can not afford to spend money on a car (they drive clunkers across deserts) but have the responsibility to protect the life and limb of the participants on the trip. Work 24x7 (get up in the night to search for the person that got lost returning from the grover (potty)) and smile in the morning. They teach a group of paddlers to stroke hard to move away from danger (the big rock with undercuts) all the while waiting for the last responsible moment (karios) to put in the pry (one type of stroke) that shoots the raft into the current of safety.


The expert guide is always watching and making karios (the right, critical or opportune moment) decisions concerning the safety and learning moment of the individuals and groups.

On a related but tangent note: see Bobservation #3761  Architect or Circus Clown.

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David's notes on "Drive"

- "The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us" by Dan Pink.

Amazon book order
What I notice first and really like is the subtle implication in the shadow of the "i" in Drive is a person taking one step in a running motion.  This brings to mind the old saying - "there is no I in TEAM".  There is however a ME in TEAM, and there is an I in DRIVE.  And when one talks about motivating a team or an individual - it all starts with - what's in it for me.

Introduction

Pink starts with an early experiment with monkeys on problem solving.  Seems the monkeys were much better problem solver's than the scientist thought they should be.  This 1949 experiment is explained as the early understanding of motivation.  At the time there were two main drivers of motivation:  biological & external influences.  Harry F. Harlow defines the third drive in a novel theory:  "The performance of the task provided intrinsic reward" (p 3).  This is Dan Pink's M…

Exercise:: Definition of Ready & Done

Assuming you are on a Scrum/Agile software development team, then one of the first 'working agreements' you have created with your team is a 'Definition of Done' - right?



Oh - you don't have a definition of what aspects a user story that is done will exhibit. Well then, you need to create a list of attributes of a done story. One way to do this would be to Google 'definition of done' ... here let me do that for you: http://tinyurl.com/3br9o6n. Then you could just use someone else's definition - there DONE!

But that would be cheating -- right? It is not the artifact - the list of done criteria, that is important for your team - it is the act of doing it for themselves, it is that shared understanding of having a debate over some of the gray areas that create a true working agreement. If some of the team believes that a story being done means that there can be no bugs found in the code - but some believe that there can be some minor issues - well, then yo…

Before Scaling Up - consider...

Before one scales up their functioning teams (I'm assuming one would not want to scale up non-functioning teams - yet I've seen that done) one should look for alternatives to the scaling problem.
"Scaling Agile methods is the last thing you should do" —@martinfowler, 2003This scaling problem has been studied:
"In 1957, British naval historian and management satirist Northcote Parkinson [known for Parkinson's law: “work expands to fill the time available for its completion”] painted a cynical picture of a typical committee: It starts with four or five members, quickly grows to nine or ten, and, once it balloons to 20 and beyond, meetings become an utter waste of time – and all the important work is done before and after meetings by four or five most influential members."


Why Big Teams Suck by Robert Sutton is a Stanford Professor and co-author (with Huggy Rao) of Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More without Settling for Less.
Studied in Academia "…

Do You Put “CSM” After Your Name?

I’ve noticed a new trend—people have been gaining titles. When I was younger, only doctors had initials (like MD) after their names. I always figured that was because society held doctors, and sometime priests (OFM) in such high regard that we wanted to point out their higher learning. I hope it was to encourage others to apply themselves in school and become doctors also. Could it have been boastful?

The Wikipedia describes these “post-nominal initials”:
Post-nominal letters, also called post-nominal initials, are letters placed after the name of a person to indicate that the individual holds a position, educational degree, accreditation, office, or honor. An individual may use several different sets of post-nominal letters. The order in which these are listed after a name is based on the order of precedence and category of the order. That’s good enough for me.
So I ask you: is the use of CSM or CSP an appropriate use of post-nominal initials?
If your not an agilista, you may wonder …

Situational Leadership II Model & Theory

Have you ever been in a situation where you thought the technique needed to move forward was one thing, yet the person leading (your leader) assumed something else was what was needed?  Did you feel misaligned, unheard, marginalized?  Would you believe that 54% of all leaders only use ONE style of leadership - regardless of the situation?  Does that one style of leading work well for the many levels of development we see on a team?

Perhaps your team should investigate one of the most widely used leadership models in the world ("used to train over 5 million managers in the world’s most respected organizations").  And it's not just for the leaders.  The training is most effective when everyone receives the training and uses the model.  The use of a ubiquitous language on your team is a collaboration accelerator.  When everyone is using the same mental model, speaking the same vernacular hours of frustration and discussion may be curtailed, and alignment achieved, outcomes …