This session was part of the CI track (Coaching & Continuous Improvement) and presented by Tom Mellor and Lowell Lindstrom.
Central topic of the talk were their experiences as agile coaches at Tom’s company. Tom being an internal coach and Lowell being an external coach.
The audience was highly involved, sharing their views and experiences.
Some of the questions we worked around:
1) How prescriptive should an agile transition be?
‘Do this, do that’ vs ‘teaching values’ and let the team try on their own.
There are benefits and downsides at both strategies. If a coach is too prescriptive, the team focuses too hard on the process, not understanding the underlying ideas. They will understand the how, but not the why. If a coach is not prescriptive enough, the team will understand the why, but will choose its own set of rules, perhaps missing some crucial part of the process. This is what Tom said he would do different next time. Be a little more prescriptive, so each team at least does the most crucial stuff.
2) Internal / External label on coaches
People sometimes accept more from an external coach than from an internal one. It has to do with perspective. When the company brings in a stranger as a subject matter specialist, you‘re more likely to be open to his suggestions on the matter. Nevertheless an external coach can get comments like ‘you don’t know the company business’, when touching a sensitive issue.
3) How to influence the organization? Horizontally, vertically?
4) Horns and halo’s – the team perspective of coaching.
Too much stuff to write about in a blog post, but certainly interesting. A lot of the topics returned during a panel discussion on Tuesday, which I will write about soon.