Agile coach success and failure modes explained

If you had experiences as agile coach, one time or another you have been in one (or more) of these failure modes.
These modes can originate from coach's ego or continuous partial attention.
We all act out of these modes or ones similar to them. We do it with the best of intentions.

Failure modes explained

  • The Spy
    The Spy spends just enough time observing the team to pick up topics for the next retrospective.

  • The Seagull
    The Seagull swoops in at standups, poops all over the team (with well-intentioned observations or advice)and flies away again.

  • The Opinionator
    The Opinionator expresses opinions during team discussions, getting so attached to their opinions (or others’) that they lose the objectivity needed to help the team have great discussions.

  • The Admin
    The Admin undermines team ownership by becoming an unnecessary middle-man for meeting logistics, access requests and other administrator type jobs.

  • The Hub
    The Hub acts as the center of the universe for communication between team members and for task-level coordination.

  • The Butterfly
    The Butterfly flits around from team to team, landing just long enough to impart a pearl of wisdom or pose a philosophical question.

  • The Expert
    The Expert is so involved in the details of the team’s work that only the trees are visible. What? We’re in a forest? Huh, does that mean there’s a way out?

  • The Nag
    Helpfully “reminds” the team to start standup, update the story board, complete the tasks they committed to, etc.

Being a good coach is not about avoiding these failure modes, we all fail soon or later, is about learning from failures and moving forward. What help here is replacing fear with trust in the people in the team and pay attention to what is actually happening on the team.

Success modes explained

  • The Magician
    The Magician asks questions that – voila! – reveal what is there but could not be seen.

  • The Child
    The Child genuinely wonders “why?” and is propelled by an insatiable curiosity about life and everything in it.

  • The Ear
    The Ear hears everything and gives people room to grow by not responding to everything.

  • The Heckler
    The Heckler keeps it fun and light and just a little off balance to jolt people out of complacency.

  • The Wise Fool
    The Wise Fool asks the dumb questions that enlighten.

  • The Creeping Vine
    The Creeping Vine makes small moves, imperceptible to the team, that relentlessly pull them back to the core of agile bit by bit.

  • The Dreamer
    The Dreamer bravely gives voice to possible futures waiting to be created.

  • The Megaphone
    The Megaphone makes sure all voices are heard especially the voices of the oppressed.

Source: Lyssa Adkins,

Print | posted @ venerdì 13 maggio 2011 13:56

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