Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Effective coaching styles

Open space session notes from the Agile Coaches Gathering 2009 (Milton Keynes)
Key info:
- Facilitated by Xavier Quesada Allue
- Attendees that I remember: Rachel Davis, Manish Shah, Bob Marshal, David Draper, David Joyce, Manav Mehan (and many more + I hope all these guys really were there)

First we listed styles that we can think of including:
- Non directive style
- Leadership style
- Depending on what the person expects (adaptive)
- Trainer style
We recognized the fact that there are dimensions and styles. We looked at established coaching models like GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Will), The Dreifuss model, The solution focus model based on getting the goals out of the coachee.

Then we talked about capability coaching and the thoughts I listed on this were various approaches and questions to ask like:
- Interesting! Tell me more? (instead of reacting negatively and directing)
- Why? – Perhaps replace with “what would that give you?” or “what would that result in?”
- What value does that give us? Is that what we want?
- Get going (not sure about this one, perhaps related to do and then inspect.)
- Look at all the issues (e.g. impediments, problems) and prioritize – perhaps phrase this as question

Somebody asked the question – Do you have to have all the styles? And the answer came that you certainly need a set of styles. How do you find out how effective your style is? Watch other people coach in action (Shadowing; Pair-coaching).

You need to ask yourself the questions – Who you are being and what you’re doing. You can have the same or different model and perhaps slightly different style.
You may want to think about 3 adjectives that you would use to describe this person like best at? Or worst at?

How to find out if you’re effective? Can remote coaching be effective? You rely on hearing only and lose the body language. Near coach/far coach model.

Coaches should not be part of the system – if you are then you’re missing coaching opportunities. Your goal as a coach should be the improvement of the team.

The team must respect you. You have to be visibly doing stuff. If you quickly show/add a bit of value then you get respect. You also need to show respect. Consider if the team has actually asked for a coach?
[An interesting related book is “The speed of trust”]
There are 3 factors:
- Character
- Competence (It has been noted that it is easier to coach if you’re less competent as you do not direct)
- Consistency (develops over time and sets predictable behaviour)

For example coaching a tester can be effective even though you don’t know anything about testing.
You perhaps need some basics – e.g. TDD, principles, knowing concepts and tools.

Coaching is to help someone move forward.

[A good book to check is Quiet Leadership.]

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Value, Flow, Waste

I heard somebody talking about these three in the same sentence a couple of weeks ago and accidentally (or perhaps now) used them in a presentation draft while trying to explain what in Scrum we'd separate as functional/non-functional.. and waste although it doesn't seem to come up that often as the other two.
Anyway so I had to explain what it is as the word Value seem to be causing hiccups with some of our managers and the shorter explanation I could think of was that value is what we get money for, flow is what makes possible the production of value and waste is all that doesn't add to any of the other two so we throw it away.

I then ended up searching for more info and discovered 5 principles of lean (as opposed to the more famous 7). Here they are:

1. Specify value
2. Identify the value stream
3. Make value flow
4. Let customers pull
5. Pursue perfection (e.g. identify waste and eliminate continuously)

Ok, so the connection is that these 5 principles well explain the title as well and I am going to use them when I talk about it in about 10 days time. I may even post something about the event as it is my first ever agile project initiation boot camp.