Consider this scenario. You have a team that has been delivering working software for a number of years now. Word comes down from the executive suite that the team is going to “get better” by switching over to Scrum. Next thing you know you are in a meeting with your shiny new Scrum coach, who is enthusiastically describing all of the changes that will be taking place as of Monday morning.
Monday morning comes and your team’s normal productivity grinds to a slow crawl as the team comes to terms with the new, unfamiliar practices. The minute your Coach has jetted back off to wherever they came from the team starts changing back to the practices that actually worked for them, now with a healthy distrust of all things “Agile”.
Unfortunately this scenario is all too common in the modern software industry. More damage has been done to the reputation of Agile by coaches who fail to: a) consider what the team has been doing well before they showed up and b) understand that changing more than one practice at a time significantly decreases the chance of the newly introduced practices becoming standard for the team.
Iterative Innovation’s approach to coaching is rooted in two key principles:
- Understand the team’s existing practices to determine what they are doing well and where their actual challenges to delivering business value quickly lie.
- Change only one practice at a time, with a means of measuring the result of the change in practice.
How it works
All coaching engagements begin with interviews of the team members and observations of their existing process. The data gathered in these sessions feed into a comprehensive assessment of the teams relative strengths / weaknesses and a measurement of their readiness for changing existing practices.
In the roadmapping phase the needs of the organization (responding to competitive pressures, increasing release frequency, etc) are used to inform a skills training and process change roadmap for the team(s). The deliverable of this phase is a roadmap of training / coaching interactions designed to incrementally shift the team towards greater delivery of business value.
Training and Coaching Interactions
Once the roadmap is established the primary interaction with the team will be targeted training sessions to teach them the new practices they are about to adopt via the coaching process and then incorporate these new practices into their workflow via direct coaching interaction. As we are agnostic to specific methodologies the training is centered around teaching relevant practices from multiple methodologies so that if one practice is not well-suited to the team a different practice can be engaged with minimal disruption.
Reflect and Adjust
Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential – Winston Churchill
On a regular basis we meet with the team(s) and the leadership to determine if we are achieving the expected outcome and make adjustments to the Change Roadmap as needed.