The Agile Coach's Guide To The Galaxy

  • Coaching Teams

    Solve problems with experiments

    Lately I’ve been exploring tools that can help teams more successfully solve problems. This article is about how you can use experiments to help you solve problems more effectively. Your convictions are more likely assumptions In product development we are finally starting to acknowledge that the convictions we have about our product actually are assumptions (that often also turn out to be wrong). The realisation of this is one of the reasons to why we adopt lean startup or create impact maps. We want to find out if our convictions are wrong early because we want to discover what our users or customers actually want faster i.e. profit faster. That’s…

  • Coaching Teams,  Leadership and Management

    9 Questions That Help Determine Your Decision Making Style

    I am fascinated by how teams make decisions. Some teams I’ve worked with have wanted all decisions to be made by consensus. Others preferred to have a team lead or unofficial leader have the final say in making their decisions. I’ve also worked with teams that resist any and all decisions coming top-down. This often translates to an inverted top-down decision-making process. In a team like this, managers aren’t allowed to make any decisions or tell anyone what to do. One of the responsibilities that you as a leader have is to create an environment in which all individuals can contribute to solving problems and making decisions. To do so,…

  • Coaching Teams

    Why are only some improvements successful?

    That’s what a team that I have been coaching for 1 year and I wanted to answer. We were curious about the answer because I was leaving to coach another team. We thought that the answer to this question would allow the team to improve more effectively. Call it waste reduction in improving if you will. While we weren’t able to identify “one magic ingredient”  that made improvements successful we did gain some insights that we think are valuable to others. The format of our retrospective We drew a timeline ranging from July 2013 to October 2014 and we filled it with two different types of data: “Non product related” events, and “Product related” events. Examples of…

  • Coaching Teams,  Product Management

    An Epic discovery workshop (and a guide to facilitate it)

    At some point in time most development teams run out of potential epics to do next for a variety of reasons. Alternatively they can find themselves at a road crossing uncertain about which Epic to implement next. If you ever find yourself in either of these situations here’s a 2-hour workshop that you can run with your team. The workshop can also help create alignment in the team which can be useful in case your your team is having difficulties agreeing over what to do next. The questions and examples in this article come from when I facilitated this workshop with one of the teams that I coach, the Network…

  • Leadership and Management

    What do you need change to be happier at work?

    Some love variation, some love routines. Some love having a lot going on at the same time, others don’t. Some love starting projects, others love finishing projects. Some feel free when there are rules, others feel limited and constrained by rules. If you value routines and work in an environment that changes rapidly it’s likely that you will be exhausted a huge part of your time at work. If you appreciate working on many different projects but can only work on one at a time you could find yourself being demotivated and exhausted. The combination is important, not the style. Which is better? Neither of course! Below are 5 questions that you can ask yourself to discover…

  • Leadership and Management

    Do you know your directs context?

    Whether you are new to 1-on-1s or have been running them for a while, at certain times you and your directs will become misaligned and the topics they bring up might come as a surprise to you. The better understanding you have of your directs context, the better prepared you are, or at least can be, for supporting them. Your support can of course come in many different forms e.g. through feedback, by challenging, partnering, mentoring, and coaching, etc., but understanding their context is the first step. With that said, you are aiming for a delicate balance. While knowing everything and never being surprised might mean that you are spending too much…

  • Product Management

    A stakeholder, user, and customer walk into a bar… but what do they order?

    Stakeholders, users, and customers are three distinct roles. Many workplaces that I have been to have used the words stakeholder, user, and customer as if they had the same meaning. I get confused when someone uses the three words interchangeably because they are very different, and for a reason. The purpose of this article is to share my view of the differences between the three roles. To do this, let’s meet Mark, Lloyd, Roger, and Phil from Healthstudio, a private healthcare company that is well known for its outstanding customer service. Meet Mark, the manager for Healthstudio’s call center. At Healthstudio Mark leads the call center that handles everything from…

  • Product Management

    What’s the difference between a user story and a use case?

    User stories and Use cases have the same intention. Many years ago I was at a restaurant in Bombay together with two colleagues, Anup and Rama. We were seated outside and waiting for our food. It was windy and on our table was a stack of napkins that almost blew away. Anup flipped the stack hoping that the napkins would not blow away but as the wind kept on blowing the napkins kept on almost blowing away. Over the next couple of minutes Anup would turn the stack of napkins over from one side to the other several times. Finally Rama took a glass and put it on top of…

  • Coaching Teams

    Agile @ Spotify – behind the scenes

    A few days ago Martin Wasielewski, an Agile coach at Spotify, and I presented our perspective of  how agile we, Spotify, actually are. We interviewed each others on stage at “Agila Sverige 2014” and the questions we answered were “What surprised you when you first joined Spotify?”, “How agile do you think we are?”, and “What is it like in reality having autonomous teams?”. Unfortunately the interview is in Swedish since the conference is an annual swedish conference. If there is interest we will caption the video to English.