AGILE COACH


AGILE COACH

AGILE COACHING

My greatest achievement is that you are completely satisfied with your own improved performance. Every time I look forward to letting go completely (or reducing the intensity of engagement) when we both agree that your organization has reached a desired level of maturity and autonomy, and no longer rely on my coaching role (or can be reduced). My ultimate goal is to coach myself out of the track.

My top 10 objectives: 

I. Transforming to an organizational level of consciousness:

This is the most important and by far the most overarching goal in Agile transformations: to transform an organization to a growing level of consciousness, which is an optimal place for the organization that has embraced the Agile culture:

1. Focused on improving organizational culture by empowering employees and helping them develop high intrinsic motivation.

2.Leadership style in growing organizations is predominantly consensus & service oriented and participative.

The most common examples of growing organizations are culture-driven (as opposed to conventional organization-structure-driven).

4.The hallmarks of growing organizations are employee empowerment, values-driven culture and the philosophy of “employees as stakeholders”. Metaphorically, the Green organization is "the family".


II.Transforming to an organizational "tribal stage":

Here is the shared goal of an organization and its Agile coach to help employees grow from Tribal Stage 3 to Tribal Stage 4 step by step with a mature mindset.

Tribal Stage 3 - is characterized by workers operating in clusters trying to beat each other to get a bigger reward. At this stage everyone is striving for dominance; individuals express behaviors of 'lone warriors' with an organizational culture reminiscent of the 'wild west'. Metaphorically, individuals at this stage of mental maturity express the following: "I am great".

Tribal Stage 4 - is characterized by employees forming structures called triads (building values-based relationships between each other). At this stage, individuals demonstrate tribal pride, mutual support, collective thinking, teamwork, and shared ownership. Metaphorically, individuals at this stage of mentality maturity express the following: "We are great."


III Transforming silos to transparency:

Here the main goal of a coach is to help senior management break down walls that separate different parts of the same organization, to increase transparency and improve communication. Organizational silos are a problem that is not only specific to technology departments. Lack of transparency, poor communication, distortion of information as it flows through multiple organizational layers - is what describes many organizational divisions, especially those of large companies.

In many cases, this effort may require organizational redesign, including challenging existing hierarchies, tearing conventional reporting lines, blowing up "powerhouses" and bringing individuals from previously separate organizational silos under one roof: organizations are now being optimized , not for functional control and pyramidal structures, but for effective teaming, collaboration and streamlined delivery.


IV Transforming from command and control to enablement:

Here, a coach's main goal is to help senior management promote the culture of Servant Leadership, at a Command & Control pace. This may require de-centralization of power and "empowerment" of lower layers of the organizational pyramid. To develop an agile culture, senior management must provide sufficient autonomy and sovereignty to organizational layers that get work done.


V. Transform from local focus to system focus:

In real life, a good example of local optimization could be a business analyst department that successfully produces business specifications, "according to the end customer's requirements", ahead of schedule, thoroughly documents business requirements, and stores them for later consumption by the engineering department . Without looking systematically at this situation, it may seem that the BA department is working very effectively, because throughput is high and deadlines are met well: from a local perspective, the process of gathering requirements is optimized.

Meanwhile, the engineering department may still be struggling to deliver to the "previous set of specifications", meet multiple change requests, and fix non-functional bugs that result from misinterpretation of a previous batch of requirements. Technology is far behind schedule. Technology has also fallen behind in judging a "shipment" of new specifications that just came from the successful BAs department.

And of course, all of this is closely followed with detailed project plans and Gantt charts produced by the PMO department: according to their RAG reporting to senior management, one department is locally successful, the other department has local problems. But what is not clearly communicated is that due to inefficient organizational design, the overall system is bound to fail, and the only way to see this clearly is by refocusing on the global / system situation.

Here, the goal of the Agile coach is to work closely with senior management, to ensure that it sees a bigger picture and sees an organization as a living organism or a large evolving ecosystem, and not as a collection of thin, independent and autonomous functional layers.


VI. Transforming "component" teams to "feature" teams:

Here, the goal of an Agile coach is to work with organizational leadership to restructure technology departments away from Component-centric teams to Feature-centric teams.

The main feature of Component Team is a high concentration of expertise in a specific product component (e.g. UI / UX, business logic, database), with very little or no expertise in other product components. Therefore, a component team can only work on “one taste” of tasks, and the product to be delivered rarely delivers complete and clear business value to customers. As a result of this situation, component teams can "optimize locally" to keep themselves busy and work on component-specific items that have a much lower business priority. Metaphorically, a component team can `` bake just one layer of a tiramisu layered cake '' - not something a customer is likely to buy.

The main characteristic of Feature Team is the presence of all types of component knowledge within the same, relatively small group of people (mostly cross-functional). A feature team can work autonomously and independently on a stand-alone product or on a single product area of a larger product. A feature team can optimize its efforts around top priority items (from a business perspective), regardless of the specificity of the components. This makes function teams much more productive 'delivery units' than component teams. Metaphorically, a feature team is able to "bake all layers of a tiered cake" - something a customer would be more likely to buy.


VII Transforming from individual specialist to T-shaped teams:

Why is this so important?

To build efficient, cross-functional function teams that can operate independently and work their way through the entire stack of system components, while delivering a finished product to end customers, they must be staffed (teams) with a cross-functional team member.

This allows for a higher rate of 'swarming' by team members (who work together on the same tasks), more effective work in progress (WIP) and higher throughput.

Many times I have observed that an erratic workflow and weakened scrum dynamics are caused by a lack of cross-functional team members - something that must expose a coach to the senior management responsible for creating team structure.

It is the goal of an Agile coach to work with the organizational leadership to restructure technology departments away from Component-centric teams to Feature-centric teams.


VIII Measuring performance: Transforming individual performance into team performance:

It has been scientifically and sociologically proven how rewarding individual performance harms the morale and organizational cultures of employees in general.

An extension of a coach's purpose also serves to educate senior leadership on how to gradually deviate from assessing individual performance to collective / team performance.


IX. Value management: Transform from "check marks" to "ROWE":

Here are some examples of interim performance that do not actually prove that a product has intrinsic business value, but rather represents a mechanism of "false" value measurement:

How much time and effort has gone into producing a business requirements document?

How many people and how many man hours were spent in total on drawing up a project plan?

Are status meetings held regularly and is everyone present?

The main goal of an agile coach is to work with senior management and stakeholders to convince them to be less tolerant of subjective value measurement approaches and techniques that rely on 'imitation of value', such as time commitment. Instead, the goal should be to develop a results-only work environment (ROWE) where people are praised for delivering tangible results, not based on time / effort spent, but rather a deliverable product that customers can use.

ROWE is one of the hallmarks of Daniel Pink's Motivation 3.0 culture, where individuals are not 'extrinsically motivated' by various benefits, rewards, or other intensities.


X. Agile @ scale: from complexity to "de-scaling":

This situation is usually seen in large organizations, as they attempt to scale Agile across multiple organizational layers, departments or business units. It is not uncommon for internal Agile champions to look for solutions of scale that easily support existing organizational structures and require little or no organizational redesign.

Often times, complex Agile frameworks are preferred for their "extract and install" capabilities. Such frameworks fit seamlessly into existing organizational design and do not truly challenge one's status quo, evoke dramatic changes, or expose existing dysfunctions. They usually last until an organization realizes that nothing has changed and old dysfunctions prevail.

Many large companies mistakenly believe they need a big solution to scale their Agile practices. This is hardly true. To broaden Agile adoption and to scale Agile practices (for example scaling scrum), the organizational scaling must first take place.

A coach's goal should be to work closely with senior leadership to help them find ways to restructure and descale an existing organizational pyramid, by simplifying relationships, flattening organizational layers, and increasing transparency.