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Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition (Addison Wesley Signature Series) Paperback – 18 May 2010


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Addison Wesley; 1 edition (18 May 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321637704
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321637703
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 2.3 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Lyssa Adkins has taught Scrum to hundreds of students, coached many agile teams and served as master coach to many apprentice coaches since 2004. Coaching coaches one-on-one and in small groups, she enjoys a front-row seat as remarkable agile coaches emerge and go on to entice the very best from the teams they coach. Prior to agile, Adkins had more than fifteen years of expertise leading project teams and groups of project managers in large and small consulting firms, commercial software companies, and the Fortune 500, yet nothing prepared her for the power of Agile done simply and well. She teaches the "Coaching Agile Teams" training course which allows agile coaches to learn, practice and deepen the skills and mind-sets offered in the book.

Product Description

Review

“ The subtitle of this book says it is for ‘ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers,’ however, its guidance and advice extend to anyone associated with an agile (Scrum) team. It will also certainly help team members better understand their relationship to the work ScrumMasters, agile coaches, and project managers do for the team. And, beyond this, the book can be valuable to anyone working in a coaching capacity with any group of people, expanding the book’s application beyond agile-based efforts.”

—Scott Duncan, Agile Coach

 

“ Lyssa explains brilliantly how skills from professional coaching can be applied to coaching agile software development teams. What I love about this book is how Lyssa brings practical advice to life by relating it to everyday experiences we all recognize. An essential guide for every agile manager’s bookshelf.”

—Rachel Davies, author of Agile Coaching

 

“ As I read this book I could actually hear Lyssa’s voice, guiding me and sparking precious ‘a-ha moments.’ This truly is the next best thing to having an experienced and wise coach sitting by your side, helping you be the best coach you can be for your team.”

—Kris Blake, agile coach

 

“ Lyssa Adkins presents agile coaching in a gentle style with firm underpinnings. She resolves the paradox of how coaching can help a team to self-organize, and shows how a nurturing environment can push teams to perform better than ever.”

—Bill Wake, Industrial Logic, Inc.

 

“ I love Lyssa’s three qualities of an agile coach—loving, compassionate, uncompromising—sweet. Every chapter offers a compelling blend of philosophy and action, framework and freedom, approach and avoidance, as any agile book should. Coaching Agile Teams is a good candidate to become dog-eared on my desktop rather than looking good on my bookshelf. The depth and quality of expertise that Lyssa sought, sampled, and sounded out along her own coaching journey have been synthesized in her own voice of experience.”

—Christopher Avery, Responsibility Process mentor, www.LeadershipGift.com

 

“ In my experience with agile projects, the agile coach is one of the most important roles to get right. Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins gives the details and practical insights for what it takes to be a great agile coach.”

—Dave Hendricksen, software architect, Thomson-Reuters

 

“ I remember the first time I met Lyssa at a Scrum gathering in Orlando, and realized very quickly how inspirational she would become in the agile community. This book encapsulates her thoughts and ideas into a fantastic literary work that, I believe, fills a void in our community. We knew the role of a coach was needed, but for a long time we were not sure what that role actually was. We struggled as a community to explain what to do, when to do it, and what to do next. Lyssa not only collates all of the things we as coaches aspire to be, but has provided some great advice with realistic direction on how to be the best coach you can be for your team.”

—Martin Kearns, CSC + CST, Principal Consultant, Renewtek ply. Ltd.

From the Back Cover

The Provocative and Practical Guide to Coaching Agile Teams

 

As an agile coach, you can help project teams become outstanding at agile, creating products that make them proud and helping organizations reap the powerful benefits of teams that deliver both innovation and excellence.

 

More and more frequently, ScrumMasters and project managers are being asked to coach agile teams. But it’s a challenging role. It requires new skills—as well as a subtle understanding of when to step in and when to step back. Migrating from “command and control” to agile coaching requires a whole new mind-set.

 

In Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa Adkins gives agile coaches the insights they need to adopt this new mind-set and to guide teams to extraordinary performance in a re-energized work environment. You’ll gain a deep view into the role of the agile coach, discover what works and what doesn’t, and learn how to adapt powerful skills from many allied disciplines, including the fields of professional coaching and mentoring.

 

Coverage includes

  • Understanding what it takes to be a great agile coach
  • Mastering all of the agile coach’s roles: teacher, mentor, problem solver, conflict navigator, and performance coach
  • Creating an environment where self-organized, high-performance teams can emerge
  • Coaching teams past cooperation and into full collaboration
  • Evolving your leadership style as your team grows and changes
  • Staying actively engaged without dominating your team and stunting its growth
  • Recognizing failure, recovery, and success modes in your coaching
  • Getting the most out of your own personal agile coaching journey

 

Whether you’re an agile coach, leader, trainer, mentor, facilitator, ScrumMaster, project manager, product owner, or team member, this book will help you become skilled at helping others become truly great. What could possibly be more rewarding?


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Customer Reviews

3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Juhola Tomi on 18 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
Let's start by stating that I liked the book a lot. The fact that sw development is more about people than technology is very clearly present in Lyssa's book. She describes the different roles agile coach plays while trying to help the teams to become a self-organizing high-performance business enabler. Lyssa presents lots of practical and insightful methods for coaching people and for creating correct kind of environment for the team to succeed. She also reminds that the role of the coach should be strong at the beginning and fade away as the team progresses on its journey towards truly agile team.

I personally found the failure and success modes to be to most useful part of the book. These describe common coaching issues in easy to remember and easy to identify personas. These help me out in day to day work to avoid harmful behaviour and recover from it. It makes sure I won't be a Butterfly or a Nag with my teams.

The funny part about book is that on the cover it says Software Development - Agile, but inside there is not much about software development. So more about teams, communication, coaching and trust. The important things.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Pertti on 13 Jun 2011
Format: Paperback
This book made similar impact on me as the first Scrum book by Schwaber many years ago: I immediately recognized that this is it, the elusive 'thing' that I have tried to capture and express myself, but catching only fragments here and there. It fills one important gap in agile transition, the team level, and it does it by providing a comprehensive and consistent approach. Comprehensive in the way that the multifaceted roles of a coach are addressed, as well as the mental requisites for becoming a good coach. And it is consistent with agile value proposition, putting the team's true needs, capabilities and learning first, instead of masterminding for the team.
One of the few cornerstones in any agilist's bookshelf.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By hynoki on 22 Dec 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Good basis, but lessons are described on too general a level to be really useful. Amazon requires a longer review, but given the generality of the book, i don't think it warrants a more specific review.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Panayotis Savvas on 11 Mar 2012
Format: Paperback
I am a big fan of Mike Cohn books, and am surprised that this is not only part of his signature series, but that he also provided such a strong recommendation in the pre-face. I found this lacking in detail or real actionable advice, over simplistic and dull to read. It has a great title and its publication exhibits wonderful timing, but beyond that and a lot of high level thinking it fails to really hit the mark in terms of techniques to train/coach agile professionals. I wish I hadn't wasted the half day it took to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 41 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Not for me 20 April 2011
By Louis A Parisi - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was very excited to read Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins. I knew Lyssa's name as one of the big names in coaching and with the raving forwards by both Mike Cohn and Jim Highsmith I had very high expectations. I am a beginning coach and this is my first book specifically geared toward coaching. My feeling after reading the book is it must be for someone who has had a couple of years experience coaching and has read some of the more "instruction" based books on the subject. There were some nuggets of good information and a very heavy emphasis on self-awareness and introspection but in general this is not the how-to book for coaching that I anticipated. The self-awareness emphasis helped me understand the importance of this subject to be a good coach but the book only touched on the subject throughout and I am left to go out and look for other resources to fill the void. This is not the type of book I was looking for or did I expect based on the table of contents.

The first chapter discussed moving from positions such as ScrumMaster, Project Manager, or Tech Lead to an agile coach and contrasted some of the thinking for the different roles and how they should change during the progression. This was interesting information and useful as a checkpoint to make sure you are on the right path. Chapter two moved into expecting high performance from the team you are coaching. This is where I started to wonder if this book was right for me at my stage in coaching. Lyssa discusses the power of metaphors and introduces the High Performance Tree as a metaphor you may use with your team. The High Performance Tree has roots in Commitment, Courage, Respect, and other important Agile cornerstones. It also has fruit of Astonishing Results, The Right Business Value, and others. This all makes sense but all of this takes up most of chapter two and I just can't see myself going to my team and building the metaphor while drawing this tree to hang up in the team room. I think I would be laughed out of the room. Maybe that is just me or the team I am working with but I tend think that most of the technical teams I have worked with wouldn't have much value for this exercise.

Another example of why this book was not right for me was in Chapter 11 discussing failure modes for coaches. This is a quote from the book under the heading Get a Broader View:
"If you imagined this team's life together as a gigantic landscape, what would today's view be? Perhaps you visualize a barren hill obscuring the horizon, a physical representation about how you feel about them today.... Perhaps the view drives you to become a Nag. Now step back. See the team's current circumstance on a broader timescale.... you see the barren hill below, but it's now just a sad dot in what is otherwise an interesting and varied landscape." I get it. Don't dwell on today; work on helping the team move past their difficulties. But this took three paragraphs and this was just one of the failure modes. This style of writing did not appeal to me for this type of book. Others may like it and I suspect that people who have attended Lyssa's training or presentations may appreciate the style more than me.

There were some good parts of the book too. I liked the Doing Donuts in the Parking Lot metaphor. It was about the responsibility of the product owner and how just because this process allows them to change course after every iteration that is not necessarily the best business approach. And as others have mentioned, the Shu Ha Ri stages is a great model to guide agile teams as they gain knowledge.

The chapter on Conflict Navigation was probably the most "instructional". It discussed five levels of conflict, how to determine the level of conflict, and some guidance on how to handle the conflict. I have to say this was not the right book for me but others may find it helpful.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Great book that teaches how to think like a coach 30 May 2010
By Michael Cohn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Coaching of all forms--whether of kids playing basketball or software professionals learning to ScrumMasters or other agile leaders--is difficult. The advice given often boils down to "here's how I do it..." or "you should always do..." The first style of advice fails because the coach's personal style may differ dramatically from the apprentice's style. Techniques that appear honest and sincere when one person uses them may appear forced and artificial when used by another. The second style fails because it is directive and ignores important differences in context between two coaching opportunities. In "Coaching Agile Teams," Lyssa Adkins avoids both of these traps.

It would be easy to write a book like "101 Coaching Situations and What to Do in Them." Such a book would present a problem and offer good advice for that situation. If the book was done well, readers could leave the book knowing what to do in precisely 101 situations. But the reader of uch a book would not know what to do about the million other problems he or she is likely to encounter as a coach or ScrumMaster.

The reader of that imaginary book would not have learned how to think through coaching situations. Adkins' book is very different. Her book teaches you to think like a coach. You won't leave this book with 101 memorized solutions to problems, but you will leave knowing dozens and dozens of new tools and ways of approaching situations. These will allow you to solve just about any coaching challenge I can imagine.

Throughout the book, Adkins points out that one thing a good coach does is look for teaching or coaching opportunities. These are the perfect moments for a coach to make a point and for others to learn from it. I encountered many such perfect opportunities while reading "Coaching Agile Teams." Adkins was able to teach me numerous, practical things in each chapter. I am confident others will also learn a great deal from this book.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Love the Shu Ha Ri Model 29 July 2010
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very helpful resource for Agile coaches. Some of the principles are old hat for students of leadership but the packaging is fresh and relevant to Agile teams. The most useful section for me is Agile Team Stages; I love the Shu Ha Ri model:

"One good model for mastering anything (if that's possible) comes from martial arts. A martial arts student progresses through three stages of proficiency called Shu Ha Ri. Shu: Follow the rule. Ha: Break the rule. Ri: Be the rule. These stages also describe Agile teams as they first practice and then get good at Agile...A team can be in one or all of these stages simultaneously...Each person on the team inhabits one or more of these stages simultaneously, too..."

The most common mistake I see Agile teams making is bending the rules before mastering the rules--what we call ScrumBut. "We do Agile Scrum but..." can get your team and your project in all kinds of trouble. This book will help you get back out.

Good stuff, and recommended for new and experienced Agile coaches.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Terrific, practical book on coaching! 19 Sep 2011
By D. Blair - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having worked with many agile teams in the corporate world, I was excited to start my own business coaching agile teams. I was propelled and excited by the prospects of helping to grow teams in other businesses, making the world of software more positive and more successful. Although I had a lot of experience, I found myself myself with 1,000 questions about coaching. How do you coach advanced teams versus new ones? What's the best time to coach agile teams without getting in their way? How assertive should you be as a coach, versus letting them figure it out themselves? When is it appropriate to insert yourself into a conflict, versus letting them resolve it themselves? How do you inspire teams to do their best when it's all about the team, not about the coach? This book was just what the doctor ordered. Lots of perspective that's helped give me confidence about how to be an effective coach. Many things I already knew, many others that I didn't but rang true as I read them. Lyssa has put a lot of herself into the book, I can almost hear her kind words coming to me as I coach. I appreciate the help!

Don
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Left wanting more 21 April 2011
By Jay Paulson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I was excited to read "Coaching Agile Teams," by Lyssa Adkins and started it immediately when I got it. Part of my excitement was due to the fact that part of our organization is going through a transformation and I, hopefully, would be a part of the Agile transition. With forwards written by Mike Cohn and Jim Highsmith I had high expectations for this book. I was really hoping to get some deep knowledge about the topic.

After reading the first four chapters I was grasping for the depth I was looking for and the intimate knowledge that could only be known by someone with extensive experience like Lyssa Adkins. The first four chapters have some good ideas that one could take away and use, such as the Shu Ha Ri. However, on my teams if I tried these ideas I would have been laughed out of the room. That's not to say that they are bad ideas they just were not a fit for my situation.

I also struggled to find any good "meat" in the first for chapters. It seemed that I could have just read chapter 3, Shu Ha Ri, and not worried about the other chapters in the first part.

The second part of the book is definitely where the "meat" of the book is located. I found that I wanted more while reading. Just when I found myself saying, "yes right on!" the section stopped and didn't go any deeper.

The biggest value I got out of the book was chapter 9, "Coach as a Conflict Navigator." Although several books could be written on this topic alone it was a very good over view of how to deal with conflict. I was left wishing the other chapters were written more in this fashion.

The third part has some interesting nuggets, but in my opinion one could go without reading this section and be fine as a coach.

Over all is the book worth owning? I'm not sure. I would say definitely check it out if you are interested in becoming a coach as she references a _ton_ of other sources throughout the book. At the end of each chapter Lyssa has thoughtfully put a list to her references, links to videos, and other web site/blogs that go more in depth. It is a good supplement to the content of the book and if you are wanting more depth, as I do, then exploring these references, web sites, and video will help in your quest for knowledge.
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