Book Review: Agile Coaching
by Johanna Schober & Sigi Kaltenecker
In this text you find: A PAM review of Rachel Davies´ and Liz Sedley´s book // Appreciation and open questions // What we got out of the book //
What we appreciate:
Ø the general attempt to clarify the complex field of agile coaching. This works out pretty well by clarifying coaching basics such as working with people, leading change or building an agile team, following the life circle of agile processes (planning, daily standup, demo/review, retrospective), caring about quality (getting to done, tests, clean code) and listening to feedback by demonstrating results, driving change with retrospectives and growing yourself.
Ø the clear structure which goes hand in hand with clear language, attractive pictures (my favourite is the retrospective bridge on p184) and a huge amount of helpful insights
Ø the consistently solution-oriented, easy to understand approach to specific hurdles and impediments in the agile environment – full of practical advice which is offered through a lot of concrete project reviews
Ø the side bars with additional personal lessons learned that strengthen both the author´s credibility and authenticity )
What we ask ourselves:
Ø Do Rachel and Liz pay enough attention to the importance of attitude? It clearly is a strong theme throughout the whole book, but is explicitly reflected only on a few pages. Also, the relationship between techniques and attitude is missing. What is the mindset behind using specific tools? How do we handle certain activities? Why is it important to drive change in a very personal manner (the walking the talk stuff and other things)?
Ø Too much of “solution hero”? (especially since the agile coach is generally working alone?) Who´s helping the helper? Who is the agile coach asking for help to master her/his own role? How can you check your own blinkers that are hindering you from seeing the bigger picture, i.e. the broader organizational context (see the section about “getting pickled” on p16)?
Ø What about the pitfall of doing too much, not to say resolving everything? We expected more focus on the challenges of the expert role, as Agile coaches might easily lose touch with their own self-reflection: accessing their ignorance, following their confusion, revealing their own uncertainties?
What we got out of the book:
Ø a lot of concrete insights into the practice of an agile coach: what is she/he responsible for? How is his/her role understood & successfully mastered? How s/he deals with conflict?
Ø better understanding agile coaching in the context of basics, priorities and lessons learned;
Ø clearer picture of the similarities and differences between an agile and a so-called systemic coach – with the former more on the side of what the latter is used to calling “training” or “expert consulting”;
Ø some concrete hints how to improve my (Sigi´s) own coaching skills and aligning personal and team coaching better
Ø much more interest in continuing the discussion between agile and business coaching which we (Rachel & Sigi) began at the 2009 Scrum gathering´s coaching panel in Munich
Rachel Davies, Liz Sedley: Agile Coaching. Pragmatic Bookshelf; 1 edition (2009), Paperback: 250 pages.