Coaching Agile Teams

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The complete, practical guide to coaching agile teams everything agile coaches, ScrumMasters, and projectmanagers need to know.

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.

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?

Foreword by Mike Cohn          xiii

Foreword by Jim Highsmith          xv

Acknowledgments           xvii

Introduction          xix

About the Author          xxv


Part I: It Starts with You         1

Chapter 1: Will I Be a Good Coach?         3

Why Agile Coaching Matters   4

The Agile Coaching Context   5

Let's Get Our Language Straight   8

Move Toward Agile Coaching   9

An Agile Coach Emerges   15

Native Wiring   16

Make Agile Coaching Your Personal Expression   18

A Refresher   18

Additional Resources   19


Chapter 2: Expect High Performance         21

Set the Expectation   22

Introduce a Metaphor for High Performance   23

The Destination Never Comes   29

A Refresher   30

Additional Resources   30

References   31


Chapter 3: Master Yourself        33

Start with Self-Awareness   35

Recover from Command-and-Control-ism   40

Prepare for the Day Ahead   43

Practice in the Moment   46

Be a Model for Them   53

Support Yourself   53

Always Work on Yourself   54

A Refresher   55

Additional Resources   55

References   56


Chapter 4: Let Your Style Change          59

Agile Team Stages   60

Agile Coach Styles   64

Feel Free to Let Your Style Change   67

A Refresher   70

Additional Resources   70

References   70


Part II: Helping the Team Get More for Themselves          73

Chapter 5: Coach as Coach-Mentor          75

What Is Agile Coaching?   76

What Are We Coaching For?   77

Coaching at Two Levels   78

Coaching People One-on-One   83

Coaching Product Owners   97

Coaching Agile Coaches   107

Coaching Agile Managers   109

A Refresher   114

Additional Resources   114

References   115


Chapter 6: Coach as Facilitator          117

Wield a Light Touch   119

Facilitate the Stand-Up   119

Facilitate Sprint Planning   123

Facilitate the Sprint Review   128

Facilitate the Retrospective   132

Facilitate During Team Conversations   136

Professional Facilitator and Agile Coach   142

A Refresher   143

Additional Resources   143

References   144


Chapter 7: Coach as Teacher         145

Teach During the Team Start-Up   146

Teach New Team Members   169

Use Teachable Moments   170

Teach Agile Roles All the Time   170

A Refresher   180

Additional Resources   181

References   181


Chapter 8: Coach as Problem Solver          183

An Agile Problem Solving Rubric   185

Problems Arise and Are Sought   186

See Problems Clearly   192

Resolve Problems   196

A Refresher   200

Additional Resources   201

References   201


Chapter 9: Coach as Conflict Navigator          203

The Agile Coach's Role in Conflict   204

Five Levels of Conflict   204

What Level of Conflict Is Present?   207

What Should You Do About It?   211

Carrying Complaints   217

Unsolvable Conflict   221

A Last Word on Conflict   225

A Refresher   226

Additional Resources   226

References   226


Chapter 10: Coach as Collaboration Conductor           229

Collaboration or Cooperation?   231

From Cooperation to Collaboration   232

Build Individual Collaborators   233

Surplus Ideas Required   238

Build the Team's Collaboration Muscle   239

Reveal the Heart of Collaboration   251

A Refresher   253

Additional Resources   253

References   254


Part III: Getting More for Yourself           257

Chapter 11: Agile Coach Failure, Recovery, and Success Modes          259

Agile Coach Failure Modes   260

Where Do Failure Modes Come From?   261

Recover from Failure Modes   263

Agile Coach Success Modes   266

Practice, Practice   268

A Refresher   269

Additional Resources   269

References   270


Chapter 12: When Will I Get There?           271

Agile Coach Skills   272

Beyond a List of Skills   279

A Refresher   285

Additional Resources   286

References   286


Chapter 13: It's Your Journey           287

Agile Coach Journeys   288

A Refresher   305

Additional Resources   305

References   305


Index           307

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Coaching Agile Teams
A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition
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H231mm x B177mm x T25mm
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