We'll cover several broad topics, each of them just enough for you to effectively grow a solid Agile team
Our curriculum/agenda includes the following topics (with the expectation of some on-the-spot customization, depending on who comes!)
1. Your mind-set, role, responsibilities
Agile favors the servant leadership model; a great and elusive ideal, it means different things for managers, team leaders, project managers, and ScrumMasters. Clarity around this is also vitally important to their teams, especially those who are accountable to two or more of these authority figures! We’ll discuss both the ideal and the reality in the attendees’ context, and identify the qualities and actions that would make the most difference to their teams. Participants will increase their awareness of two key responsibilities of effective leadership: enabling motivation and supporting people through the emotional response to change.
2. Supporting the team's successful evolution
Teams are clearly not an Agile invention, but Agile teams are like “regular” teams on steroids. Investing in an Agile team is like buying a high-risk stock: when they succeed, the return on investment is huge; if they don’t (or until they do), the return can be quite bad. According to the Tuckman model of group evolution, every team has to proceed through forming, storming, and norming on the way to the stage that makes it all worthwhile, performing. However, too many Agile teams never get past storming. To make matters worse, some teams may appear to have normed, but they merely put on a happy face, stifle all conflict and differences, and defer to their product owner and managers.
We’ll analyze the fundamental differences between great, good, and struggling Agile teams. Then, we’ll walk through what it takes for a team to graduate from one stage to the next, what the risks are, and how, as leaders, the participants can help their team along the way to greatness. We’ll discuss their most likely impediments to teamwork and identify possible responses.
3. Powerful communication
“We need to communicate better” and “communication breakdowns” are popular observations in retrospectives and post-mortems. However, micromanagement, nagging, and more emails are not the remedy. Equally unhelpful is traditional communication training, which assumes you can pigeon-hole other people into “types” (e.g. MBTI, DiSC) and adjust your style to that type’s preferences. (Most people don’t walk around with labels on their foreheads announcing their types, and profiling other people is incredibly hard.)
In this half-day segment, you’ll learn powerful ways to get your point across in interactions with staff, colleagues, and managers. You’ll practice effective interactions, giving feedback, handling resistance, and difficult conversations — all without being “touchy-feely”. Along the way, you’ll get help (from me and your peers) for team- and leadership-related problems.
4. Coaching individuals and teams to grow
Coaching is the leader’s best tool for helping people embrace the Agile mind-set. And in the course of daily work, leaders use coaching to help their followers, peers, and even superiors improve their results. But what does that mean? What can you and can’t you do in an environment of autonomy, trust, and self-organization? When should you be teaching, facilitating, mentoring, or coaching? Why do logical arguments rarely work as well as you’d expect them to? And do you really have to ask for permission to coach?
We’ll explore the 9 stances of helpfulness and to increase the likelihood of your offers of help being accepted. We’ll then zero in on the coaching stance, study the GROW model, and bring it to life with useful techniques. The instructor will demonstrate expert coaching with one of the participants, and debrief the experience with the audience. Attendees will practice and receive feedback on their coaching. We’ll see what leaders do to support their team’s Agility in a coaching capacity, and discuss useful techniques for creating quick shifts in teams.
5. Facilitating team conversations
The #1 complaint about Agile is that there are too many meetings. In most cases, the complaint is less about the number of meetings than about their quality and value. But meetings, and all forms of conversation, are vital for a self-organizing team that values communication, collaboration, and consensus.
Whether in a formal meeting or in the hallway, whether in person or distributed, you must do certain basic things to make conversations meaningful and worthwhile. (And they don’t necessarily involve flipcharts, stickies, or markers.) You’ll practice with — and get tons of feedback on — two elements you must absolutely get right if your meetings are to succeed.
6. Optional: Managing the frustration of leading change
The people you lead experience two types of change: product and work changes, and growth as an Agile team. As exhilarating as such leadership can be, it can also be frustrating. You will encounter blame, justification, guilt, and other coping stances. You’ll learn a useful model and perspective for identifying and overcoming the frustration. Along the way, we’ll examine a powerful technique to inspire people to take responsibility.
Mirroring our first topic — your role and mind-set — we’ll now explore your own personal growth path and specific steps forward.