The Agile Coach's Guide To The Galaxy

  • Coaching,  Team Building,  Team Dynamics

    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…

  • Agile,  Coaching,  Organization,  Systems Coaching

    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…

  • Organization,  Team Building,  Team Dynamics

    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,  Leadership,  Personal Development,  Self awareness

    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…

  • Agile,  Personal Development

    6 Free Agile and Management Slack Groups You Don’t Want To Miss Out On

    If you’ve been following my blog over the years, you’ll know that I believe strongly in the importance of effective feedback. And while feedback is invaluable, it’s just one of many ways I try to improve my skills. In addition to feedback, learning from the people around me, whether formally via conferences and lectures or casually through one-off chats, has been a huge help in my own professional development, and many others I speak with feel the same. But when you’re running your own consulting business or are the only coach on a team, the cross-pollination of Agile, Management, and Leadership best practices takes a bit more work. To that…

  • Agile,  Coaching,  Team Dynamics

    The First Question To Ask When Building Teams – Is This Really A Team?

    Written by Stefan Lindbohm and Viktor Cessan. Have you ever wondered why so many organizations fail at building effective and high performing teams despite offering so much support in different ways e.g. by managing people, by managing the environment, and by coaching teams? You’re not alone. This is often something that frustrates teams, coaches, and managers. You’d think that given all the support that teams receive, they would have great chances for becoming high performing. What our experience shows us, and research, is that it’s more uncommon than common for teams to get to a high performing state. While there are many reasons to why this happens, in this article…

  • Agile,  Retrospectives

    Turn Up The Good with the ”The Good, The Great, and The Amazing” Retrospective

    When teams focus on what’s not working in retrospectives, things outside their immediate control often show up. It’s great to help teams illuminate what’s holding them back, but if that’s the only thing your retrospectives are focused on they may become a drag and drain peoples energy. To help teams ”Turn up the good”  i.e. builds upon practices and elements that are good and try to make them even better I’ve created a short retro that’s based on that principle. And I’ve taken inspiration from many but particularly Woody Zuill and Marcus Hammarberg when documenting this format.  The Good, The Great, and The Amazing This retrospective takes 15 – 60 minutes depending…

  • Leadership,  Organization,  Personal Development,  Team Building

    Set Individual Goals With The Entire Team

    When we gather an entire team in a room and explore their collective knowledge gaps, interests, and their delivery goals or roadmap — setting individual goals together as a team will lead to increased performance and motivation. This is because individual goals become more relevant with the added context and because focus increases when there’s a clear and direct link between challenges, delivery goals, and learning objectives. If you straight up agree and would like to know how you can start setting individual goals a.k.a talent management with entire teams instead of with individuals I’ve created an exercise that you can run with your teams. Skip ahead to the exercise…

  • Coaching,  Facilitation

    Help Workshop Groups Collaborate Better, Faster, With The Workshop Collaboration Canvas

    It takes weeks if not months of interactions for a team to really come together and collaborate well. So when we put a group of people who don’t collaborate on a regular basis into a workshop and expect them to solve an important problem in a day or two, that group is unlikely to be operating at their collective best. But since we know this even before going into the workshop, we as facilitators can accelerate the group’s ability to collaborate openly and freely through different exercises. Working Agreements is a popular exercise that helps groups but it alone won’t get the group there because the participants are either not…

  • Agile,  Leadership,  Self awareness

    6 Ways People Resist Becoming T-Shaped–And How To Work Past It

    When people doubt or resist the T-shaped philosophy, it’s easy to assume that they just haven’t understood what being T-shaped means and why it’s valuable. More often than not though, I’ve found that a lack of information isn’t what’s holding people back. In my work with organisations and teams, I’ve come across 6 main reasons why people resist the trend towards being T-shaped. I’ve outlined these reasons for you below and have included some remedies that may help you and your teammates get past any hesitation. 1. Their identity is tied to their role Many people identify with their role. They may have worked with something for many years or…

  • Agile,  Interviewing,  Product Management

    Thoughts about hiring Product Owners, Part 3

    This is the third and final part of my series on hiring Product Owners and in this part I go through how to evaluate Product Owner candidates with work samples and through auditions. Part 1 – Are You Recruiting For Potential Or Experience? Part 2 – Questions You Can Ask In Your Interviews Part 3 – Work Samples And Auditions  <- This post. Effort and reward Before you decide how to evaluate your candidates consider the amount of time and energy you’re willing to invest to learn about your candidates. Asking for work samples and evaluating them yourself requires little effort while running auditions require the most time and energy but…

  • Agile,  Interviewing,  Product Management

    Thoughts about hiring Product Owners, Part 2

    Continuing my thoughts on recruiting Product Owners, here are some questions that might help you evaluate candidates level of experience from Product ownership, and questions that might help you discover if they have potential to learn the role. Part 1 – Are You Recruiting For Potential Or Experience? Part 2 – Questions You Can Ask In Your Interviews <- This post. Part 3 – Work Samples And Auditions  Please note that: Treat these questions as inspiration and use the ones you think can be helpful to you. This is not a guide to follow step by step. If a candidate is unable to answer these questions it does not necessarily mean…

  • Agile,  Interviewing,  Product Management

    Thoughts about hiring Product Owners, Part 1

    I’m going to publish three blog posts that I hope will help organizations more effectively recruit Product Owners (POs). In the first one (this one) I share my thoughts on how to decide whether to hire for potential or experience. I also share some thoughts on how to reduce bias in your recruitment. In the next two posts, I’m going to share potential questions that you can ask during your interviews, examples of how to conduct practical tests with POs, and how to work with work samples. Part 1 – Are You Recruiting For Potential Or Experience? <- This post. Part 2 – Questions You Can Ask In Your Interviews Part…

  • Feedback,  Leadership,  Organization

    The Importance of Peer Feedback in Self-Managing Organizations

    I’ve written about how to give effective feedback using the EPIQ Feedback Model. That’s an important part of building a strong feedback culture, but there’s more to it than that. In any organization, but especially in a self-managing organization, we must have strong peer feedback loops in place in order for the organization to build a feedback culture. Why exactly is a strong feedback culture so important in self-managing organizations? Well, self-managing organizations distribute leadership and decision-making. Doing so comes with a lot of benefits. But if people are unable to effectively manage themselves and make decisions, a self-managing organization will inevitably fail. Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters can certainly…