How am I making IX a better place?

Our coaching team had a retrospective recently and someone introduced the idea of writing a letter to explain (to a friend or family member) what it is we do as coaches; the focus was “How am I making IX (our company) a better place?”

I failed to write anything as cohesive as a letter, but here are the notes I jotted down, with a few details inserted to make them clearer to people outside our team:

  • I dislike that the question is phrased using “I” rather than “we” because I couldn’t be as impactful without my fellow coaches
  • Supporting people’s desire to grow & improve
  • Encouraging people to learn & try new things
  • Creating a safe space for people to discuss concerns & try to fix/reduce them
  • Helping teams experiment & find better ways to collaborate
  • Making the workplace more engaging
  • Helping the recently-formed Product Development Units increase their effectiveness

It was a really interesting exercise and brought up some great discussion points – definitely a format that I’ll use with a (different team) retrospective in future.

p.s. If you’re still unclear about what an Agile coach does, check out “Agile Coaching in a Nutshell – This is what Agile Coaches do“.

Where do I start?

A few people (aside from those I work with) have contacted me recently asking “where do I start?” or “is there an Agile 101?”

The first thing to note is that it’s not as simple as watching a video, reading a book, or attending a course. Yes, those can be useful introductions, but the most important thing to understand about Agile is that it isn’t a series of checklists or processes to follow – it isn’t a silver bullet to solve your organisation’s problems. In fact, some people dislike/distrust Agile because it can shine a light on problems that they’ve happily swept under the carpet for many years; transparency and honesty are not things every organisation values because it can be a threat to the status quo.
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Just tell me exactly what you want

Life would be so much simpler if our customer would just tell us exactly what they want the product to do. I wonder why they don’t just write it all down, then we can go off and build it?

In my experience, the customer can’t do this because they don’t know exactly what they want. They have a feel for what they would like, but they don’t always know what is technically feasible given the time & budget constraints. There’s almost always a trade-off between what they would like and what they can afford; maybe Feature A could be a little more robust if a couple of bells and whistles are dropped from Feature B, for example.
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