My Operating Manual / Readme.doc

This document is a README, about myself, Chris Stone.


Wouldn't it be great if everyone had a user manual or heads up display so you knew about them, their idiosyncrasies and preferences for ways of working right from the off. I've written this README to help serve that purpose, as getting to know me, my expectations and habits can take time.


Overview

I'm THE Virtual Agile Coach and I am here to help your teams be excellent, to remove blockers, facilitate continuous improvement in end to end delivery practices and to join the dots between what we do and the wider businesses strategy and priorities.

Agile Alignment - I'm personally not married to any individual agile methodology or framework. Agile agnostic describes me well. I firmly believe in helping teams and organisations find 'Their version of agile' as opposed to copy and pasting an existing framework or model. Each company is different primarily because of one variable. It's people. Therefore I aspire to help people understand what their options are and to discover through experimentation what works for them.

Customer & User centricity, in my opinion should be critical to why we do things and how we choose to do them. In terms of metrics I subscribe to, you'll hear me talk less often about 'velocity' and 'lead times', and more about 'Days since last user engagement'. This to me is a more powerful metric, keeps us anchored to our vision and the problems we're trying to solve, and ensure we're frequently checking that we're on the right course.

I aspire to foster an environment of autonomy for the teams and people I work. To that end, I consider it my job to make myself redundant. If a team, or organisation are no longer reliant upon my input or support, I consider myself to have been a success in my role. #Makeyourselfredundant

I firmly believe in autonomy and don't want anyone feeling like Jira ticket machines. This means that I will actively seek for the teams I work with to be presented with problems, challenges or opportunities with outcomes rather than just a pre-determined solution to implement.


Those delivering the work 'in the trenches' are the experts and are best equipped to deliver the best solution to achieve the desired outcome.

I expect the teams I work with the continually run experiments, build hypotheses, predict an expected outcome, run an experiment and learn from this by contrasting the actual outcome with the expected outcome. 


This isn't limited to just how we deliver a software solution, but also to our processes and ways of working.

With this in mind, I don't expect perfection. People make mistakes, experiments don't go as planned.


I believe we need to de-stigmatise the word 'Failure' and rebrand it as a 'Learning'.


If mistakes are made or things don't go to plan, let's learn from them and approach things differently next time. This way, we are continuously learning and improving. Learn fast, learn often.

Lastly, I highly value transparency. In what's happened, what's happening and what's going to happen. I aspire for those I work with to feel safe / brave enough to be open about mistakes, "failures" or otherwise and use these as opportunities for improvement.


My facilitation style;


  • I'm a huge fan of using visual tools such as Miro with the following desired outcomes; ensuring alignment of understanding, crowdsourcing the most important topics from attendees, equality in ability to interact and providing the opportunity for everyone to have a voice. You may become sick of my facilitation style as a consequence! However in this increasingly distributed working world, I strongly believe such collaborative tools are important.


  • My first instinct is to open the floor to ideas as to how things can be improved / approached rather than make my own suggestions. I would prefer to listen to your ideas on how things can be improved, before looking to dip into my agile toolbelt for options that I may have seen work well in the past.


  • Any meetings I facilitate will likely be shorter than 45 minutes. I believe that any meeting longer than that is actually a workshop.


  • I will ask a lot of questions. Please don't be put off by this, it's my way of exploring around a topic, understanding its nuances, or promoting engagement.


  • I will continuously look to ensure meetings I'm involved in are adding value to those attending. If I feel a discussion is moving us away from the meeting outcomes, I will challenge and look for ways that these conversations to continue, without taking the time of those in attendance. I am very keen on keeping the number of meetings we have down, to allow everyone to have time to do what they do best, add value.


Feedback


  • I am a huge proponent of fast feedback loops, to that end, for those I'm managing, I aim to have at least weekly 1 on 1 sessions. These sessions are likely to be a flexible agenda where we can both bring up the topics we wish to discuss most.


  • That being said, if something is urgent, or you need to run an idea, problem or approach by me, feel free to reach out. Don't feel like you have to wait until our next session


  • Challenge me - If you disagree about something, don't be afraid to say so. I welcome new ideas or ways of working that I may not have considered through my own lense or that challenge my way of thinking. Conflict can be very healthy and diverse thinking creates better results. I have opinions, but that does not mean they are correct or that my views should be blindly followed. Please disprove me, so that we can learn, together.


More about me


  • I enjoy lifting heavy things in my spare time and kitted out my own home gym during lockdown which enables me to perform powerlifting /olympic lifting style movements from home

  • I play hockey at weekends, along with American football and occasionally run and cycle when I can motivate myself to do cardio.

  • I am unfortunately sad enough to manage my own personal life using Kanban. I really do live and breathe agile principles

  • I live for adventures. In the past few years I've climbed active volcanos / swam with Manta rays in Bali, gone on safari and seen wild tigers in India, ski'd my first black run in the French alps, hiked in Yosemite and Zion national parks in the states and had lessons on using a samurai sword in Japan. I am always looking forwards to my next adventure.

  • Ask me about the time I wrestled a penguin.

 

©2020 by Chris Stone - The Virtual Agile Coach

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