The Agile Coach's Guide To The Galaxy

  • Coaching Teams

    Experiential book clubs help people grow, and they’re fun too! :)

    In this blog post I go through the differences between conceptual and experiential book clubs. I also share some tips if you’d like to organise an experiential book club for yourself. A few years ago I coached a team that was making a huge effort to reduce their technical debt. I offered to organise a book club around the book Clean code but I was faced with some skepticism. Several team members had participated in book clubs in the past but those had not been valuable. I explained that this book club probably would be different from previous ones they’d attended because this one was going to be experiential. I…

  • Coaching Teams

    Surface Silent Disagreements

    If you’ve ever worked in a team that makes lots of decisions but that struggles with making progress on those decisions, here’s a technique you can use to understand if your team is aligned on decisions or if people are disagreeing in silence. To avoid confusion and potential conflict it’s good to get your teams consent before trying this technique out. Build surfacing silent disagreements into your decision making process[1] Whenever your team has made a decision ask someone to repeat the decision then make the following three statements, one at a time, and ask the team to answer yes or no depending on if they agree or disagree with each statement. Three statements to surface disagreement I agree with this decision. I feel that…

  • Coaching Organizations,  Coaching Teams,  Leadership and Management

    What does an agile coach at Spotify do?

    A common question that I receive from the agile community is “What does an agile coach at Spotify actually do?” and about 2 years ago Joakim Sundén answered this question in his blogpost The agile coach role at Spotify. This blogpost is about my current focus and how it has evolved over the past months. While I won’t go into specifics about the challenges we have had and still have, I will illustrate what reality can look like for an agile coach at Spotify. Four months ago I left the IO-tribe (Infrastructure Operations) to join the six month old BITS-tribe (Business Information Technology Systems). I was the first agile coach to join (btw we’re hiring) :) and the…

  • Coaching Teams

    What happens when you send a dev team to a 3 day group development course?

    Are group development courses such as IMGD silver bullets when it comes to helping teams mature? That’s what Martin Wasielewski (also an agile coach at Spotify) and I wanted to find out. In order to find the answer we defined an experiment, and identified a 3 day group development course called S360 encounter that we would send a (willing) development team to. Our hypothesis was that: By increasing people’s self awareness, improving their self esteem, teaching them how to communicate effectively, and raising their understanding of other people’s needs, teams will become high performing. How we would evaluate this experiment Three and six months after our dev team had taken the course we would evaluate the experiment on the following:…

  • 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…

  • 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. 0