The Agile Coach's Guide To The Galaxy

  • 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,  Coaching,  Leadership,  Organisation

    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…

  • Leadership,  Organisation

    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,  Leadership

    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,  Coaching,  Facilitation,  Leadership

    How to use the Value Cards exercise to help your teams collaborate better

    Get the free DIY-version or buy Value Card packs. What do you think would happen if someone who values empathy, love, kindness, respect, and humility were to join the same team as someone who values boldness, success, fame, influence, and reputation? Do you think they would collaborate well from the get-go, making use of each other’s unique perspectives to complement and improve upon their ideas? Or do you think they’d be more likely to struggle, misunderstand each other, and face their share of conflict? You’ve probably seen the latter in action. And, to be fair, it’s a much easier pattern to default to. But it doesn’t have to be that…

  • Feedback,  Leadership

    The Four Intentions Feedback Model

    Two years ago I worked with a team that struggled with delivering feedback to each other. Team members would try to express something to either raise each others performance levels or to improve working relationships, but somehow something would always seem to go wrong and they ended up triggering each other. This damaged their productivity and morale to an extent that several people left the team. The remaining team members went through feedback training and coaching, and we looked at how the intentions behind feedback are the foundation for constructing constructive feedback. For example, feedback about performance and feedback about working relationships sound very different but the members of this…

  • Coaching,  Leadership,  Organisation

    First correct the environment, then coach the teams

    Some organisations attempt to increase their teams performance by injecting agile coaches or scrum masters into their teams. At the same time the environment is not conducive to coaching which means that coaching will not have any significant effect until the environment has been adjusted. To create an environment that enables autonomy and evokes high performance the following four conditions are necessary: Teams need a (one) compelling mission. Teams need the necessary skill set to deliver value (to customers or internal stakeholders) or at least a good enough match and time to learn more. Teams need to feedback from the customers and organisation. Teams need focus both in terms of…

  • Agile,  Leadership,  Organisation

    What we learned from removing all chapter leads (managers) in the IT tribe at Spotify

    Two years ago the Internal IT tribe @ Spotify was greatly understaffed but got approval to scale from 25 to 75 employees. As we started scaling we recognised that Spotifys organisational model added too many formal leadership roles for our taste and we wanted to find an organisational model that allowed us to scale without adding more formal leadership roles. During this time the existance of chapter leads was also being challenged in our tribe by our squad members. To solve both these problems we conducted an experiment where we distributed leadership responsibilities and we removed all the managers (chapter leads). I did a lightening talk about our experiment at Agila…

  • Agile,  Leadership

    No, Agile Coaching Is Not Cat Herding

    Agile coaches and leaders in agile organisations sometimes refer to parts of their job as herding cats. While said with a smile it has a negative connotation. I’ve done this in the past myself and I think it’s important that we stop talking about our jobs, and people and teams this way for several reasons: Talking about cat herding hides the real problems at hand. What exactly is the team doing that makes them appear as cats? And what should the team improve in order to not be a bunch of cats? It’s disrespectful and as a coach or leader you are likely loose influence. Sure, cats are smart, independant, and resourceful, but what coaches/leaders…

  • Feedback,  Leadership

    Feedback workshop facilitation guide

    For the past two years I’ve been facilitating and evolving a hands-on feedback workshop for existing teams that I have run with support teams, dev teams, and lead teams with positive results. I’m now sharing it in the hopes that it helps bring people and teams closer together, and improves the collaboration, all across the world*. Feel free to use it as it is, or change it as you see fit. Also please share your experiences with it! 🙂 * With that said, I don’t think it’s wise to run this workshop if you do not have adequate/significant experience from feedback, self awareness increasing activities such as Johari Window, and facilitation.

  • Feedback,  Leadership

    What to think about when it comes to feedback

    While Spotify, contrary to popular belief is very hierarchical (6 layers from CEO to developer), it is also true that we value peer feedback and self management for each of these layers. I’ve written a post about why peer feedback is important, here’s a link to it if you want to read it. In one of the feedback workshops I facilitate, participants go through “what to think about when considering to offer someone feedback”. The following 7 points are repeatedly mentioned and I’ve been using them as my own personal pointers with success. I’m sharing them with a wider audience in the hopes that they bring more people value. 1 – Your feedback must be necessary. The feedback you are about…

  • Feedback,  Leadership,  Organisation

    The importance of peer feedback in self managing organisations

    Self managing organisations distribute leadership and decision making. The more successful it is (i.e. the more effectively people manage themselves and make decisions) the faster the organisation is. If you’re trying to grow or sustain a self managing organisation you need effective peer feedback loops. Organisations that lack peer feedback loops usually starts exhibiting some or several of the following bad smells: relationships are deteriorating (the fewer and weaker relationships you have, the harder it is to get help and thereby accomplish things) growth has stalled (of people, the org, and the product)  sub groups are forming (us and them mentality, conflict, misalignment) hierarchy is amplified (bottlenecks are introduced in the organisation) lead and cycle times are increasing (the teams…

  • Agile,  Leadership,  Organisation

    One-on-one tips

    In my tribe (BITS IT) we are currently experimenting with distributing leadership and amplifying self management. We are iterating on Spotifys organisational model because it is creating tension for us. I’m going to share more about this experiment later this year. An important part in amplifying self management is to change how we conduct 1:1s. Just before we started our experiment we read Esther Derbys article about conducting 1:1s with self organising teams and we then had a conversation about how we should conduct 1:1s. I was asked to share some 1:1 tips and guidelines for people who are new to them, and I thought I’d share them here too. I hope they bring value to you! Stay…

  • Leadership,  Organisation

    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…

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