• The Virtual Agile Coach

The A.G.I.L.E system - An It's always sunny in Philadelphia parody



For fellow fans of IASIP you may be aware of Dennis' infamous system he uses to woo women. I have created my take on this for the agile transformation world. This version identifies the positive behaviours to look for in a transformation, next week we'll look at the negatives / pitfalls.

A - Aspire for autonomy - Make it your job to make yourself redundant. I measure my success as a coach by whether or not teams are able to self organise without me. There are subtle ways you can test this, for example whether or not ceremonies kick off without you or whether teams wait for you to start them. Or whether they suggest and try their own experiments without relying on you for solutions. Include check points in the transformation where you ask those you're working with - What further support do you need to self organise? What is preventing you from self organising more at the moment? Asking the questions will help with identifying further actions to add to your transformation backlog.

G - Get leadership on board - Begin the transformation with a top down approach, we want leaders to be trained first. We want them to be coachable. We want them to understand what Agile is and what it is not, which #metricsmatter and which ones can be vanity based or harmful. Leadership should ideally themselves be agile, not just pay lip services to it. Starting at the top can help with getting leadership buy in and to ensure agility is led by example. Try starting with a team charter for the leadership team. Establish what goals, strengths, weaknesses, values, goals both individually and as a team the group has, identify the first version of their ways of working and the metrics they will use to monitor progress. In my experience, this baselines expectations and is the beginnings of the path to success.

I - Invest in people - This doesn't mean just throw them onto the latest and greatest agile training course, but identifying and understanding what skills and capabilities are needed to make your transformation successful. Ask yourself the following questions - What support do my people need to transition to agile ways of working? How might career progression change for those involved? What skillsets / talent could be brought in to help, or what skills can I nurture with the people we have?

L - Learn fast, learn often - Foster an environment where people have a growth mindset. Where they feel safe and brave enough to experiment and fail without repercussion as failure is perceived as a learning opportunity. Failure I still perceived to be a dirty word, so embrace and foster a culture of learning. Move away from questions such as 'How many features have you delivered? And 'Did you deliver on time?' and towards 'How can I support you in delivering?' and 'What are you learning?'. This can go a long way to demonstrating the importance you place on learning and improvement.

E - Engage personally - Engage those you're working with on a personal level. Don't just copy and paste frameworks or methodologies in a cookie cutter style or as if they are blueprints, but understand and tailor the approach to their needs. This means not going in with your own agenda or biases and listening first, rather than suggesting your own solutions. Help them identify their version of agile. Ask for their opinions, ask them what a good future state looks like in their eyes. Engaged people are more likely to feel part of the shared transformation and feel a vested interest in its success.

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