Book Notes #19: Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins

Coaching Agile Teams gives agile coaches the insights to adopt this new mindset and to guide teams to extraordinary performance and environment.

Title: Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition
Author: Lyssa Adkins
Year: 2010
Pages: 352

While coaching agile teams, you can help project teams become outstanding at agile, creating products that make them proud and helping organizations reap the powerful benefits of teams that deliver both innovation and excellence.

Coaching Agile Teams is for ‘Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers,’ however, its guidance and advice extend to anyone associated with an agile team.

As a result, I gave this book a rating of 7.5/10.

For me, a book with a note 10 is one I consider reading again every year. Among the books I rank with 10, for example, is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Overview of Coaching Agile Teams

More and more frequently, Scrum Masters and project managers are being asked to coach agile teams. But it’s a challenging role. It requires new skills—as well as a subtle understanding of when to step in and when to step back. 

Migrating from “command and control” to agile coaching requires a whole new mindset.

In Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa Adkins gives agile coaches the insights they need to adopt this new mindset and guide teams to extraordinary performance in a re-energized work environment. 

Some key insights and learnings from Coaching Agile Teams:

 – The importance of understanding and embracing the agile values and principles, and using them as a foundation for coaching and leading agile teams.

 – The importance of creating a safe and collaborative environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, and are empowered to make decisions.

 – The importance of effective communication, both within the team and with stakeholders, to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that the team is able to deliver value to the customer.

 – The importance of continuous improvement, both for the team and for the individual team members, to ensure that the team is constantly learning and improving.

 – The importance of effective problem-solving and decision-making, and how to use techniques like root cause analysis and retrospection to identify and address problems.

 – The importance of understanding and managing different personalities and communication styles, and how to use this understanding building a more cohesive and effective team.

You’ll gain a deep view into the role of the agile coach, discover what works and what doesn’t, and learn how to adapt powerful skills from many allied disciplines, including the fields of professional coaching and mentoring.

My Book Highlights & Quotes

“… We practice mastering ourselves in the moment so that we can better open ourselves to being a servant leader and to harness our emotions and choose what to do with our reactions…”

“… To be full of love and enthusiasm for your work is a prerequisite for collaboration, a professional obligation…”

“… Clients’ needs change. What the team can do is known only to them and changes over time. The world moves at an unbelievably fast pace and creates situations no one could have foreseen. You cannot make a commitment on anyone else’s behalf and expect committed behavior from them…”

“… When coaching product owners, your job is to help them get that one combination criterion—business value—to the top of their definition of priority…”

“… A ScrumMaster who takes teams beyond getting agile practices up and running into their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance is an agile coach…”

“… Agile coaching matters because it helps in both of these areas—producing products that matter in the real, complex, and uncertain world, and adding meaning to people’s work lives…”

“… Teams that fail together and recover together are much stronger and faster than ones that are protected…”

“… A friend loves you just the way you are. A coach loves you too much to let you stay that way…”

“… The most important thing you can do in the face of your mistake is to model the agile value of openness. Transparently and with humility, simply own up to the impact of the mistake, and apologize for it. Tell the team which agile value or principle your mistake undermined so they can learn from your example…”

“… Agile coaching is more about who you are and what behaviors you model than it is about any specific technique or idea you bring to the team…”

“… Agile is easy to get going yet hard to do well. Many reasons collude to make this so. Chief among them is that agile exposes the dirt people have been sweeping under the rug for years. Who wants to look at that? Yet, we must…”

In conclusion, Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins is an excellent resource for anyone looking to lead and coach agile teams. 

Coaching Agile Teams provides a comprehensive understanding of the agile values and principles, and how to use them as a foundation for coaching and leading teams. 

Coaching Agile Teams also offers practical guidance on how to create a safe and collaborative environment, effective communication, continuous improvement, problem-solving, decision-making, and managing different personalities. 

Whether you are a seasoned agile coach or just starting out, Coaching Agile Teams is a must-read for anyone looking to lead and coach high-performing agile teams.

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