The Agile Coach's Guide To The Galaxy

  • 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,  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,  Organisation

    The buckets exercise

    In order for organisations to become conducive to high performing teams it is crucial that managers have time and mental capacity to engage in complex problem solving. Unfortunately many organisations place an emphasis on starting work which diminishes managements capability of building a high performing organisation. To help managers free up time and mental capacity I’ve run an exercise with them called “Buckets”[1]. In this exercise managers get to visualize and motivate why certain work needs to get done now and specifically by them. The bucket exercise also helps managers discover the work that needs to be delegated first. Here’s how you run it: Ask the manager (or who ever you are running the exercise with)…

  • 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…

  • Agile,  Organisation

    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…

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