The Agile Coach's Guide To The Galaxy

  • Leadership and Management

    Using “Voice”, and Using “Exit” to change a system

    At work, and in society, we use “Voice”, and “Exit” to create change. “Voice” is when you try to change a system from within, “Exit” is when you try to change a system by creating a new system that replaces the old system. People mass-leaving companies, or countries, or currencies, taking their business elsewhere, deleting their Facebook accounts, shifting to other search engines than google, are examples of “Exit”. People demonstrating through walk-outs, changing how they cast their vote, and complaining to the company they are buying products off or working at, are examples of “Voice”. Both ways are important. Both play a part. They can work together–Exit can amplify…

  • Coaching Organizations,  Coaching Teams

    The Spiderwebs outside my daughters window

    Earlier this fall, I looked out my daughter’s window and saw what must have been close to 100 spiderwebs. I often gaze out her window as it’s my favorite view in the house–a natural, perfectly groomed forest. But I’d never seen even one spiderweb out there before. Unique viewing conditions The spiderwebs had of course always been there. But under normal circumstances, the air outside is dry. And there’s not a lot of angled sunlight, so I couldn’t see the spiderwebs. The spiderwebs are hidden in plain sight, so to speak. But that morning, thanks to the moist, cool temperature, specific light, and low wind, they became visible to me…

  • Coaching Organizations,  Coaching Teams

    Informed Interventions

    I recently held a talk on Agile By Example about the importance of agile coaches making informed interventions when coaching systems and agile, and that many coaches are making dogmatic interventions. I argued, and still do, that more often than not, agile coaches and scrum masters fall short in their intervention process. They intervene when they ought not to, and they skip interventions that could have a significant and positive impact. I want to make some clarifications in this post, mainly to define “Informed interventions” and to offer suggestions on how you can move beyond dogmatic interventions. I also want to repeat here that I think this is not a…

  • Coaching Organizations

    My hideous bushes, the ladybugs, and the daisies

    This is blogpost two in a series of posts originating from the ”Re-Wilding Agile” Masterclass that I took with Dave Snowden. In this post, I look at how we too often destroy symbiotic relationships that have emerged over time and through necessity. And how it is our vanity and ideals about “what workplaces should look like” or “how people ought to collaborate” that is the source of this.  I start this post with a story about my garden and its ladybug and aphids. I then relate my story to the work we do as coaches and managers with agile and organizations. I share examples of how managers and coaches actively…

  • Coaching Organizations,  Leadership and Management

    Restoring Evolution

    When Charles Darwin studied the animals on the Galapagos islands, he found that finches had adapted to their circumstances and developed distinct traits. Some Finches had evolved to eat seeds, some to spear insects, and eat cactus fruit and seeds. They evolved together with their environment over a very long period of time. Their beaks have high utility in their contexts yet if you moved a Ground Finch to an environment where the main source of food were cactus, that finch might starve, or at least struggle with food. Harvard Medical School and Margaret Bowman Re-wilding Agile For the past months, I’ve participated in Dave Snowden’s training “Re-wilding Agile“. It…

  • Coaching Organizations,  Coaching Teams

    The Holistic Observations of Teams Framework: Using Active Observations to Identify Strategic Interventions

    We speak a lot about interventions when nudging teams along their team effectiveness journeys. But what are we really aiming for here? Interventions alone and just for the sake of doing something are not enough. We need our interventions to also be strategically placed at the right leverage points. In other words, we need strategic interventions. The first step towards making strategic interventions is to actively observe your team in a holistic and objective way. This requires structure. Without structure, our observations are more prone to bias and thus less helpful. In this post we introduce our Holistic Observations of Teams Framework that we’ve been using when observing teams. We…

  • Product Management

    Book Club Facilitation Guides

    Book clubs can be a great way for people to learn more about a subject or concept–if they are designed with that in mind. Unfortunately, many book clubs are poorly designed and lead to entrenched habitual thinking. “How so”, you might wonder? When book clubs ask what people liked and disliked about a book, or what parts seem relevant or irrelevant for their context, it’s very subjective to biases. We are bombarded with information, there’s a lot going on at our workplace and in our lives, and thus it becomes difficult to fully grasp the concepts described in books, particularly the more abstract they are. And any evaluation people give…

  • Coaching Teams

    10 Virtual Table Tips That Make Your Remote Meetings More Effective

    For the past six months of working from home, I’ve been experimenting with practices that make remote meetings more effective particularly when it comes to balancing speaking time between participants. Those of you who have facilitated, or even just participated, in in-person meetings and workshops know how difficult it can be to ensure that everyone even gets an opportunity to speak, let alone to achieve equal speaking time between the participants.

  • Leadership and Management

    Psychological Safety In The Workplace – An Integrative Framework

    Psychological safety in the workplace is a hot topic, and that’s a good thing. When psychological safety increases, it improves motivation, quality of life, and performance—and who doesn’t want that? I imagine that psychological safety is something you’ve heard a lot about. And that’s great. It’s very important after all. But what’s less great is that it’s often just the management aspect that gets talked about. Psychological safety in the workplace is really about so much more than that. Management is only one of five competencies that we need to build psychological safety, and that’s why I’ve written this post. We tend to focus too much on management’s role in…

  • Product Management

    Team Mission Statements: Get The Most Out Of Yours

    Social and Organizational Psychologist Richard Hackman observed that one of the most crucial components necessary for enabling high performance in teams is that they have a compelling mission. Missions become compelling when they’re clear, coherent with the company vision, aligned throughout the company, and appealing to the team members. So if you’re aiming for empowered teams with high product autonomy (level E-I on the picture below), team missions (expressed through team mission statements) are an absolute necessity that will increase engagement, speed, and impact.   Ladder showing different levels of Product Autonomy, as described by John Cutler. Sounds pretty straightforward, right? There’s one catch though: you need to make sure…

  • Coaching Teams

    Temporal Dynamics – Coaching Teams Stuck In Discussion Gridlock

    Those of you who’ve listened to Episode 11 of my podcast, The Law of Raspberry Jam, have heard me talk about temporal dynamics (check out the episode here if you haven’t already). In this post, I’ll elaborate on what temporal dynamics is, why it matters, and how you can help a group that has gotten themselves stuck in a cycle of temporal oscillation (no matter what your job role is). What is temporal dynamics? Back at Spotify, I was a part of a coaching team. We were six coaches spread out across a Tribe (also known as an engineering department), and every week we’d come together to share knowledge, split…

  • Coaching Organizations

    agile transformation at Avanza: a case study

    Agile Transformation (capital A and T) and agile transformation. Same words, vastly different concepts. An “Agile Transformation” is a cookie-cutter product that anyone can buy off the shelf. It comes with manuals, guides, predefined role descriptions, and everything else you need to get your organization looking and sounding like an Agile organization. Plug and play! Some call it the starting point and some call it all you’ll need, because it’s better than whatever you have today, right? “Agile Transformations” are a tool on the tactical level, and, while there’s certainly some value in them, I believe there’s more value in lowercase a and t agile transformations. agile transformation is a…

  • Coaching Organizations

    The Often Missed Team Building Activity – An Organizational Growth Strategy

    There’s lots of great material out there on how to build agile teams. That material focuses on support and improvement at a team level which is of course one crucial component. But in the midst of all this, we seem to have forgotten one of the most important aspects of team building that has a huge impact on team performance: the organizational growth strategy. Don’t get me wrong: helping individual teams become high performing teams is essential (and there are enough pitfalls to avoid there as it is). But if you don’t consider your team growth plan, the way, and frequency with which you choose to grow your teams, you…

  • Feedback

    The EPIQ Feedback Model

    Feedback is a hot topic, but not everyone agrees about its usefulness. Some praise feedback as something fundamentally important, while others claim that, even with a well-intentioned feedback model, it’s directly harmful to relationships and self-esteem. I’ve spent many years learning about and observing feedback. I’ve seen how feedback can both unify us and divide us. I’ve also come to learn what distinguishes great feedback from mediocre or even harmful feedback. Over the years, I’ve distilled my observations and research into a feedback model, and in this post, I share that model. I call it “The EPIQ Feedback Model”. So join me and explore how Empathy, Position, Intention, and Quality…