Scrum Coaching

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This article is a summary of a coaching talk given by Simon Reindel. My aim was to summarise, in a few brief points, how a scrum master can implement some techniques towards coaching the scrum team.

There are four phases of competence. We aim to reach the fourth:

  1. Unconsciously Incompetent – You don’t know that you are incompetent
  2. Consciously Incompetent – You know that you are incompetent
  3. Consciously Competent – You know that you are competent
  4. Unconsciously Competent – Competent behaviour becomes the natural response

To coach a team you don’t need to be an expert in every specific detail area, the aim is to help to increase and achieve the performance.

Scrum analogy as presented by Simon Reindel. The process is as follows:

  1. Crouch
  2. Touch
  3. Pause
  4. Engage

Crouch – Prepare

Know your skills – Be honest to yourself.
Value focus – Focus on hearts and minds
Prepare to engage – Listen and observe the people and organisation you will be coaching

Core Skills:

  • Active listening
  • Facilitation
  • Questioning
  • Conflict resolution (eg. Single product owner, Teams without interruption, Definition of Done)

Scrum Values

You are the first among equals and have to demonstrate the behaviour that you want to implement. Be enthusiastic and  full of passion. Instigate and support the change.

Values:

  1. Focus
  2. Courage – Assist in transformation
  3. Commitment
  4. Respect – Towards people in team
  5. Openness

Touch – Awareness

  • Be an agent of change.
  • Communication is critical.
    • Know what your native conflict response will be to mitigate and effectively handle conflict. Compromising is the midway towards successful conflict resolution.

Communication:

  • Be mindful (facilitate getting rid of the elephant in the room)
  • Apply active listening
  • Non-Violent
  • Servant Leadership
    • Officer – To serve
  • Model the behaviour
  • Open questioning to provide guidance:
    • What else?
    • 5 Whys?
    • What is the evidence?
    • Why is this important?
    • What is the value of this?

You do not have to have IN DEPTH knowledge of the subject matter to facilitate communication and growth within the company domain. The focus is not only to develop a specific team, but to focus on the development of the entire business.

Pause – Focus on what happens next

  • Determine the desire outcome and spend time to evaluate whether it is being reached and whether something can be facilitated better.
  • Method
  • Tone
    • Be compassionate
    • Pursue Excellence – Do the impossible.
    • Challenge dysfunction – Have metrics to evaluate dysfunction against.
    • Safety to discuss – Timing is crucial. Choose the time for discussions.
    • Allow failure – Safety precautions. Do not let the baby play with the scissors.
    • Skill share ideas – It is crucial for the team to share skills and ideas.
    • Language
      • Use AND not BUT
      • Your words really matter
    • Questions are critical
      • Ask the obvious questions
      • The answer to the question is not the coaches problem
  • Time – Take the time to:
    • Define and test objectives
    • Ask: “Could I have made it better.”

Remember to:

  • Coach all aspect of the business.
  • Inspect and adapt how coaching is going.

Be compassionate above all and be able to answer: “What’s in it for me?”

Engage – Engage with the work

Into the rhythm:

  • Allow time to think and reflect
  • Influence and persuade
  • Think laterally and creatively

Managing Resistance:

  • Change is complex
  • Scum adoption will hurt
  • Help them work through the pain

Coaching never ends, however it should slow down. Ideally coaching should lead to you becoming redundant in the organisation.

Find your own groove. Everyone has his own way of doing things

Sustaining:

  • Communities of practise
    • Incorporate scrum into corporate culture
  • Celebrate success
    • Publicly acknowledge success
  • Share lessons learned
    • Publicise learning, particularly from failures

References:

Agile Retrospective – Making good teams great (Esther Derby)

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