# Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Had another glorious day out with my nephew last week. This time I took him to Blakeney for a picnic, more crabbing and then we went out on Beans Boats to see the seals at the point. I love animals and going to see the seals has become like a pilgrimage each year for me. Disappointedly we did only catch 5 crabs, but I blame my brother who forgot the bacon. Fish heads just did not cut it!

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We also had the Agile Coaching Exchange (ACE) with Nigel Baker who presented his Optimus Prime and Change session. It addresses organisational evolution towards a Scrum Method. Nigel is one of the funniest people in Scrum I know and he didn’t disappoint me on the night, his humour was on form. Most amusing had to be the teaching of the pisello technique. Well you have heard of the pomodoro technique of time boxing for 20 minutes, well this is the time boxing of 20 seconds. It translates to Pea!

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So on the topic of changing organisations I want to talk about one of the key challenges that I tend to come up against.  When people ask me what the best part of my job is I say ‘people’. Ask me what the worst is and I say ‘People’

Every coach has faced people who are happy with status quo and don’t outwardly support the way the organisation is heading with its delivery method. So as coaches, how can we help them on the journey?

A few years ago I was introduced to the 3 zones model.

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The Comfort Zone

The comfort zone is where we are the majority of the time. It’s the location of the skills and abilities we’ve built up over our career. In the comfort zone we are the most ‘comfortable’ . However we cannot develop ourselves and build new skills when we are in this zone. It consists of the abilities we can already do easily.

The Panic Zone

Have you ever become so worried you can’t focus? Then you’ve probably been in the panic zone at some point of your life.  Activities in the panic zone are so tough that we don’t even know how to approach them. The overall feeling of the panic zone is that you are uncomfortable and possibly discouraged. Like the comfort zone, we can’t make progress or learn in the panic zone.

The Learning Zone

Between the panic zone and the comfort zone is the learning zone. You only develop yourself further by embracing activities that are in the learning zone. The skills and abilities that are just out of reach are in the learning zone; they’re neither so far away that we panic nor close enough where they’re too easy.

So how does this relate to organisational transformation?

When we go into organisation as coaches and come across resistance, it means that we have possibly pushed people into the ‘Panic’ zone. We have to identify what their panic is and then work with them to resolve it. Here are a few examples of ‘panics’ that I come across most frequently:

  • What does this mean to me? Will I still have a job?
  • What if I cannot do this new role?
  • I do not want to dilute my skills
  • I was a manager, am I not anymore?

There are many more examples, but we need to consider how we approach the change and not push people into ‘Panic ‘ and shut themselves down. We need to articulate the change through a vision and ensure that we know what the current end state is anticipated to be, and how people fit into that picture.

We need to anticipate that certain people will need 121 coaching to help support them through the change and consider how they can be incorporate into the change to help influence others.

People are at the core of our business and so we need to invest the appropriate time and effort supporting them through the change and our lives as coaches will be easier.

There is another category of people who do not openly show their fear with reluctance or negativity. These are the ones who claim to get and support Agile, but their behaviours tell you otherwise. They think they are being cunning to disguise their true feelings, but it’s pretty apparent. The above won’t work for them, but I reckon that's another blog in itself!

Final thoughts

I want you to consider your approach to working with individuals, teams and organisations and how you can coach them to be in the optimal place of the Learning Zone.



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Tuesday, 27 August 2013 14:06:31 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


# Wednesday, 26 June 2013

It’s been a pretty interesting couple of weeks with my adventures taking me to Kingston for a new client (note don’t get on slow train!), holding the Agile Coaching Exchange with Liz Keogh, and waving good bye to a client I have spent the last 15 months with.

For those that couldn’t make the exchange this month you missed Liz talking about complexity theory, and I have admit she managed what two others couldn’t do and that was to really help me to understand what Cynefin is. I think the breaking point was the inclusion of an exercise that made it seem real to me, and working in groups that helped to reconfirm the learning. I am not sure I am ready to write a blog about Cynefin yet, so I have included a few photos of the event and a link to Liz’s blog who covers it a whole lot better than I would. Thank you Liz!

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Next week I am pretty excited to be attending the David Anderson Train the Trainer Class as part of the Lean Kanban University. It will be the first time I have met David and I am hoping to extend my knowledge further to really support driving good Kanban in organisations. It doesn’t hurt either that it’s in Turkey. I am sure I am going to have loads of good stuff to blog about on my return.

Photo of actual place of learning (wooooooooo!)

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So my topic of the week is something that my colleague Mark Summers and I presented recently at both Scrum Gathering Las Vegas and XP2013 Vienna. It is also something that we both are very passionate about Growing ScrumMasters for the Future.

The challenge we faced was an organisation that was growing vastly in size and with an enormous intake of new ScrumMasters, who had a varied degree of experience and knowledge. We wanted to be able to support them in their knowledge and create a safe learning environment for them to put key skills into practice. From that point forward the ScrumMaster Education Programme was created.

Over the 6 month period that we ran the programme I put together an experience report of what we did and learned. I wanted to share with you that report so you can read and see the success that we had. Building this programme and watching our ScrumMasters grow was something that I took great enjoyment from and something that I am pretty proud of.

 

Click here for the ScrumMaster Education Programme Experience Report

Click here for the ScrumMaster Competency Framework

 

Even though I am leaving this client, I am happy in the knowledge that we have built a strong community of practice, and that they will continue to educate themselves without me. I have no doubt that we have been nurturing the Agile Coaches of the future.

Good bye guys, I am going to miss you all.

Final Thoughts

Learning is often something that gets pushed to one side when all hell breaks loose in the office. We practice Continuous Improvement in our teams, so why do we fail at doing this personally?

My mission for you is to learn something new this week.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013 21:05:00 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


# Tuesday, 18 June 2013

I was very proud this week when one of my little fledglings got a fantastic new job. When I stop and think about the first time I met him over a year ago, the transformation I see in front of me is staggering and I get a real warm fuzzy glow.  This is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job, but It's also one of the hardest parts because now is his time to go out and forge his new career on his own. I wish him the best of luck and look forward to following his successes. Most of all I know I have made a friend for life.

I guess this maternal instinct over my fledglings is why I became known as 'Scrum Mum' in my current assignment. 

As I sat in my broom cupboard of a hotel room this week I reflected over a conversation I had with another one of my fledglings where I truly put powerful questions into practice. The use of powerful questions at the right time can really help people think differently about the situations they face. It can take away the emotion of thinking about their own situation by putting themselves in the shoes of another. My coaching style personally turned the corner when I started to use these more frequently.

At a recent Agile Coaching Exchange (ACE) we were very fortunate to have Rachel Davies come in and run one of her coaching dojos. For those who are not familiar I have added the instructions that Rachel kindly put together below. (Click for Rachel's blog on this)

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This was a real great opportunity to put your coaching and listening into practice in a safe environment and for you to get feedback from your peers and most importantly the seeker. In the dojo we managed to do a couple of rounds getting some great insight into different styles in the groups. Here are a couple of our groups hard at work!

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We can expand the coaching dojo technique further by combining it with well-known coaching models such as the ones I have listed below:

· The GROW Model - Goal, Reality, Options and Will or Way

· The SARA Model - Shock, Anger, Resistance and Acceptance

· The DESC Model – Describe, Explain, Suggest and Commitment

· Powerful questions

By getting the opportunity to put these into practice it arms our tool box with a model to pull out in the right situation. I would recommend playing several rounds with a different model in each so you commit learning to the brain.

I have named a few models that I tend to use frequently but there are a lot of well published models on the internet to use, so get Googling!

As with my little fledgling I have seen coaching really make a difference and so advocate getting as much practice as possible. With great power comes great responsibility.

Final thoughts

Next time you launch into telling someone what to do or how to do something, STOP! Observe and see how you can coach them to success instead.

If you get the chance to go to one of Rachel Davies Coaching Dojos I would highly recommend it! And why not give it a try for yourself back at your place of work.

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Tuesday, 18 June 2013 17:45:25 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]


# Monday, 17 June 2013

I love being an Agile Coach! However it has its ups and downs, such as you inevitably end up coaching yourself into something you didn’t want to do or face.

My latest self-coaching started when ‘The boss’ brought up again about me blogging. I found myself making the usual excuses and moving on the conversation swiftly. It was only on my end of the day self-retrospective I asked myself ‘What am I afraid of?’ and so here I am blogging.

Damn I’m a good coach!

On further reflection I started thinking about all the good and bad experiences I have had and so this is the start of me telling you about them, but firstly I want to tell you a little bit about me.

So where did it all start? Well on June 3rd 197x…..…only joking!

My history is of an IT Project Manager working in a large insurance company. I was there for 12 years and I am thankful for the people I met and everything that I learnt. It was on one of these cold Norwich mornings that one of my developers said to me they wanted to do iterative development on my 'traditionally' led project. I look back and laugh now at my dismissive response and realise now how much I have grown and changed. I was that command and control Project Manager, a pretty fierce one at that.

It was a year later that I was introduced to the woman who would become my Agile yoda and change my belief of myself, how we deliver projects and how to structure organisations forever. It's through the coaching and mentoring of her and many others on my journey that have got me where I am today. I think that everyone who knew old & new Helen will testify to the massive change in me and it’s something I am very proud of. Who said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks :)

So fast forward to 2012 and I was fortunate to become one of the Ripple Rock family and be given the opportunity to go out and do what I love and feel passionate about.

So what am I passionate about I hear you ask?

· Shopping  - I am obsessed and had to snigger when ‘The Boss’ told me I was thrifty this week. He has obviously not seen my designer bag collection or the massive wardrobe I am now building myself.

· People - My mission is to meet as many people and teams as possible and to really coach them to be the best they can be, Agile or personally.

· Organisations - I want lean mean feature team machines (nice ring to it!) My mission is not to sell Agile to organisations but to coach, guide and mentor them to realising the benefits that are important to them and their customers.

· Community - I am all about the Agile family and actively look to bring people together, share knowledge and to have fun. So I am one of the co-founders of the Agile Coaching Exchange (ACE). Look this up for now, but no doubt I will be telling you all about it in the near future.

So that’s a little taster of quirky ole me, hopefully you are still reading and might even want to pop back every now and again to see what’s going on in my world.

Final thoughts
I have faced my fear today. What fear do you need to face?

Helen



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Monday, 17 June 2013 10:57:18 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00)  #    Comments [0]