I’m an Agile coach. I’m good at what I do and there’s no doubt I can help any Agile team without feeding my own personal agenda or ego. As an Agile Coach, I’ll INCREASE the speed of efficient, continuous delivery and CORE team morale. In parallel I’ll DECREASE overall project costs and unnecessary work.
The details behind all that is why you bring me in to your Agile environment. I put myself on a 1 or 2 Sprint short leash and I know the only thing that matters are results. Agile is a delivery strategy, a development strategy, a way to deliver what’s needed most … next and with less risk. As a Developer, People Manager, Scrum Master and Agile coach, I never believed Agile was another Project Management methodology for Project Managers to micro manage developers.
I’ve been in the Corporate/IT field since 1973.
I’ve certainly seen my share of change, especially in technology but not much in our day to day workplace behavior which at times can be toxic. This un-changed (toxic) workplace behavior has the potential to prevent any progress, risk reduction, efficient delivery, or even any hope of improved employee morale.
Agile practice is another form of change, a shift from the traditional SDLC/Waterfall delivery and requires the willingness to be influenced before any transformation can occur. When it comes to practicing Agile, I’m a true believer Agile is a faster, smarter and more efficient way to deliver scalable results that hold up over time … with less risk.
If I’m an Agile coach that wants to make a difference, then I must incorporate empowerment, behavior, trust and “Shared Leadership” efficiencies along with my arsenal of Agile tools, knowledge and lessons learned in my Agile Coaching.
Below are five real examples of how toxic workplace behavior prevents (or at least gets in the way of) any hope of anything good let alone adapting or growing an Agile model.
OK; SO here we go but no Company names!
IT/Director: We have an urgent need for an Agile Coach. Before we get into any Agile Coaching specifics, I need to see if you fit into our culture. Tell me a little about your Agile coaching philosophy.
Me: Well first, hi and nice to meet you. As an Agile Coach, I will increase the speed of efficient, continuous delivery AND CORE team morale. In Parallel, I’ll decrease overall project costs and any un-necessary work.
IT/Director Thanks Charles, I don’t think that fits into our culture at this time.
This was terrible; this company (a well known Vendor) posted an Agile Manifesto on the wall to impress the client but had no prior Agile experience; zero. They were specifically looking for an Agile Scrum Master/Coach with certifications which turned out to be me.
PMO head; also a Vendor You can call this methodology whatever you want as long as you do what I tell you. I’m warning you to be careful with your Product Owner, he’s not one of us and I expect to know everything that transpires between you two. Lets plan on a daily 5PM meeting between us. I need to know who said what to whom!
This one hurt the most. This was a great team of executives taking the risk of Agile transformation across many areas. One of these areas was where I was engaged. The person I was working for was the lone holdout, the lone manager that wanted no part of anything Agile. She was very insecure but also very toxic.
Development manager: Just so we’re clear; you work for me. The product owner only prioritizes what I allow her to, your developers only develop what I tell them to and you’re only here because someone else decided to bring you in. You can either do what I say or I’ll just tell your team to do what I say. BTW; every one of them calls me after your “Agile meetings” to tell me what transpired.
During my first week in this toxic angry work environment, I attended a Scrum on Scrum meeting with the other Scrum Masters (really Project Managers in disguise). For the record, I’m from the East Coast.
Scrum Master: my team is making progress, they’re learning to listen to what I tell them!
Me: is new tested software being delivered every Sprint?
Scrum Master: do you know the difference between a Yankee and a Damn Yankee?
Scrum Master: a Yankee passes through the south while a damn Yankee stays.
3 months later I was physically threatened by a thug/bully from this company during a daily stand up. There were at least at least 10 people in the room and at least that many on the conference call. He did not want me to acknowledge him or even think about asking him to recite those stupid stand up protocols. I started to ask why but before I could finish he ran across the room into my face and dared me to speak. That was my last day.
I was previously approved by this company to come on site as an Agile Coach. Unfortunately I had to pass (last minute) once I learned I needed immediate surgery. Recovered (whew) a few months later I was invited back, but this time there was one additional person to speak with who was away (on business) in the UK at the time. He set up a call but then called me 20 minutes earlier than our scheduled time (that he set up).
Managing Director: I really don’t have a lot of time; tell me your escalating procedures.
Me: well first Hi and thanks for setting this up. Any internal team escalations should be identified by the developers during the daily stand up. If…
Managing Director: STOP; are you telling me you don’t have an escalating process for non performing developers?
Me: well… Yes that’s what I’m telling you. Why would I come in to a new environment and lead with that?
Managing Director: Thanks; any other questions?
We can do better don’t ya think?
Agile is a Shared Leadership Model, if we trust it and practice it the way the Agile founders designed it, then well.. bring me into your organization and I’ll show you. Meanwhile I can only say I’m here to help!