Agile Coaching


I really felt this book was two distinct topics placed together. The first part (first 4 chapters) are good reference material about general team and organization behavior.  Starting with Chapter 5, the information becomes more Agile specific.  They cover the typical topics, but with some very good insights and application of their experience.  The book noticiably has two authors and they use it to their advantage to get different points of view.   It is very easy to pickup a chapter get great insights on that chapter.

Top 3 Things I learned
  • The daily *standup* is really a *sync up*
  • The Story Card Matrix, I like the “big picture” it can provide.
  • When you meet the elephant in the room, introduce them

Notes: Chapter 1: Starting the Journey

NOTE: Introduces the Mind Map, a powerful brainstorming excersise.

A coach does the following:

  • Educates
  • Facilitates
  • Supports
  • Notices
  • Feedback

A coach’s attitude

  • Lead by Example
  • Keep Balance
  • Pace
  • Language
  • Learn

Get Ready to be the coach by being introduced.

Start coaching. POER (POpER technique)

  • Problem
  • Options
  • Experiment
  • Review

Maintain Pace

Blockers: Remove blockers before attempting to implement Agile

Notes: Chapter 2: Working with People

NOTE: The gradient scale for building agreement is an interesting technique


  • Read between the lines
  • Maintain Trust
  • Background Listening

Giving Feedback

Resolve Conflict

Building Agreement:

  • Gradient
  • Fist to Five

Notes: Chapter 3: Leading Change

NOTE: Less about Agile and more about organizational change in general.

Introduce the change: slowly and incrementally

  • Show them how:
    • Educate
    • Demonstrate
    • Make it visible
  • Sell the problem: paint outcome if change doesn’t happen
  • Build ownership for change
  • Make change an experiment

Asking questions

  • Ask their help
  • Thinking questions
  • Reflective questions
  • 5 whys
  • When not to ask –> when giving guidance

Encourage Learning:

  • Study Groups
  • Leaning Opportunities
  • Going Outside

Notes: Chapter 4: Building an Agile Team

NOTE: Less about Agile than just normal team building.

NOTE: checkout and

NOTE: The “Gold Card”, do anything for the day other than tasks

NOTE: Don’t use a resource pool if you are doing Agile


  • Social Glue: Share Personal History & Team Meetings
  • Build Trust
  • Bridge the Gap: Pair across disciplines

Create a Team Space

  • Personal – things from home
  • Information Team Rooms
  • Virtual

Balancing Roles: Near and Far Customer

Energize the team:

  • Not too easy, not too hard
  • Find a compelling goal
  • Time for Innovation
  • Celebrate success
  • Don’t Demotivate
  • Beware of Incentives

Notes: Chapter 5: Daily Standup

NOTE: Some good techniques here.  A good chapter to have all team members read and refer to.  They mention speaking tokens.  They stress, the standup is a *sync up* not status up.  They like the idea of a portable scrum board.

Standing Up

Synchronize their work

  • Checkov
  • Establish a team focus
  • Control the flowing – speaking focus
  • Who takes part – they like everyone, including chickens


  • Clarifying questions are okay
  • Parking Lot

Setting time: They choose

When to coach.

Notes: Chapter 6: Understanding What to Build

NOTE: talks about evolution of the user story

Lifecycle of a user story:

  • idea – conversation – test cases
  • Card: Facilitates the conversion
  • Conversation: ask questions
  • Confirmation: agree on tests

Encourage conversations

Working with cards

Confirm Details: Given, When, Then

Notes: Chapter 7: Planning Ahead

NOTE: They believe planning should occur earlier in a different sprint, there should be a pre-planning meeting, and not everyone is involved.

NOTE: Introduces Story Card Matrix: Mark, Group Similar, Sort High to Low

Prepare for the planning:

  • Prep meeting with smaller group prior to planning
  • User Stories
  • Size
  • Agree

Understand the priorities

  • Goal
  • Stories
  • Rank
  • Split
  • Review

Sizing the work — Need what before how long

  • STORIES: Work about 2 days
  • TASKS: When Stories > 2 days
  • Arrive at estimate: Estimate, Group, Sort

Review and Commit

  • Capacity
  • Lay out an iteration
  • Look further ahead:
    • > 3 months use a roadmap
    • < 3 months use stories

Keeping Track: Hit Rate = Completed / Planned

Notes: Chapter 8: Keeping it Visible

NOTE: Information Fridges: You must open them up to see.  Information Radiators: Constant reminders

Team Board

  • Choose
  • Put name on it or picture
  • Choosing materials –> Movable

Big Visible Charts

  • Pairing Ladders
  • Burn down, etc

Maintain the Board

Notes: Chapter 9: Getting to “Done”

Who does the testing

  • Developers –> Stories
  • Customer –> Goal
  • Testers –> Edge
  • Other –> security, etc

Define Done: Customer Happy and all stories pass

Planning in testing

Managing Bugs: Don’t allow it to become a second backlog

Get feedback early

Recover from Not Done

Notes: Chapter 10: Driving Development with Tests

NOTE: They make a strong tie between automated testing and agile

Introducing Test Driven Development

  • Buy-in
  • Time to learn
  • Determine where to start

Continuous Integration

  • Latest Code:
    • Always Builds
    • Always passes tests
    • Build 2-4 hours

Sustaining: Keep tests up to date.

Notes: Chapter 11: Clean Code

NOTE: Technique of Ping Pong to Pair: Dev A writes failing test, Dev B writes passing code, Dev A & B Refactor, Switch roles

NOTE: Technique (Pomodore): Set time for 25 min – no distractions, 5 min break; after 4 pomodores, take longer break.

Incremental Design

  • Break out of Analysis Paralysis
  • Agree on a way forward
  • Making time for Design
  • Refactor
    • Restructure
    • Rename
    • Consolidate and delete old
    • Readable

Collective Code Ownership

  • Coding Style
  • Working with Specialist
  • Fix Broken windows

Pair Programming


Notes: Chapter 12: Demonstrating Results

NOTE: Kindof a weak chapter, nothing special

Prep for the demo

Everyone plays a part

Release the software


Notes: Chapter 13: Driving Change with Retrospectives

NOTE: Esther’s book goes into more detail, but there is some good information here about the Retrospective Smells and Prework

  1. Facilitate the Retrospective
  2. Design the retrospective
  3. Broader Retrospectives

Retrospective Smells:

  • Ideas fest –> ideas, but not addressing what happened
  • History Lesson –> missing action
  • Change the world –> Too many changes
  • Wishful thinking –> missing owners for actions
  • No time to improve –> missing retrospective
  • Hot air –> missing responsibility

Retrospective Pre-Work

  • Top three topics to be covered
  • High points that stand out
  • Events that are still a puzzle for you
  • Reservations or concerns do you have about this retrospective
  • What impact do you hope this retrospective will have


Notes: Chapter 14: Growing You

NOTE: No real takeaways except 1 book a month


4 thoughts on “Agile Coaching

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    • Thank you Corrine. The structure, format, and content are the reason why I am doing this blog. I learn by writing things down and then reviewing what I have written. So this blog is more for me to help me, but at the same time sharing what I have done. Thanks for the comment.

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