Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Experiences from the coaching discipline, ACGUK 2010

This was the first session I attended at ACG UK 2010 and I thought it was a great way to start a day full of open space sessions. The topic was suggested by Petra because of the many analogies with coaching in other areas and there was plenty of discussion and contributions from David Draper, Xavier, Manav, Dadi, Ali, Steve Freeman, David Harvey, Doug Hudson, Ken Powel, Mike Hogan, Mack Adams, Hedi, Nadir, Steve T and others whose names I can’t remember (sorry!).

We all agreed that coaching must start with something interesting especially in the initial phases where you’re most likely in the teaching stage. I immediately noticed that we’re really very focused on coaching Agile teams because I am sure the coaching discipline does have a specific understanding of how much directing should be used. (e.g. none)

It was suggested to break down the information we want to present and build it into a larger practice slowly. It helps if the teams want to learn but we need to make sure they understand it is ok ‘not to swim’ from day one – analogy was made based on someone’s experience being coached to swim.

It is important to start with a clear goal and help them define a goal- why do they want to learn?

Don’t come in with a pre-conceded plan – find out what people want to learn first.
Dave Harvey suggested the EPIC acronym.. e.g We coach for:
- Education
- Performance
- Innovation
- Change

I thought this can perhaps be called “The lifecycle of agile coaching”? e.g. we train then we mentor then we coach?!

The coach is not necessarily better at the skill – something that came up immediately in other sessions as well and also last year. For example 90% of swimming coaches have never been professionals.

Analogy with Rugby coaching: the coach is a facilitator – the players are the experts.

A definition was made: The (agile) coach is a facilitator that created the environment for the team to excel. We would start driving, then observing and then looking for opportunities. Long term learning comes from discovering solutions not from being guided to them.

Don’t guide people to your outcome but facilitate them to the best outcome for them.
First come principles-> then values -> then manifesto – and then practices. (Evolution of learning/knowledge?)

Find positives? Things people would engage for –e.g. find tools. For example: coaching a skilled tennis player – little point to instruct him but rather focus on the positive aspects.

Sometimes however it is about expressing ideas. For example a team might resolve testing shortage by dedicating more time to testing and not by automating the tests which we might have already seen working well.

Difficult people – e.g. “mortgage driven development” is when people only come to work for the money. And that could be ok! Ask: what do you personally get from being on this team? Sometimes the goals could be – I’d like it to be less frustrating? Can always ask – how did that feel for you?

There are different goals in the organization:
- The Coach’s goals
- The Sponsor’s goals
- The team goals
- The individual goals

Our job is to align these goals. It is important to do 1:1s. You could point out that we spend 2/3 of our awake time at work – so why not put some extra effort in making it as pleasant as possible?

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