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Why Coaching is the Number One Skill for Leaders in in an Uncertain World

It is often said that everyone wants to change the world, but no one wants to change themselves. There are few groups for which this is more apt than senior leaders. It was once thought that leaders n…

5 Levers for Changing Organisational Culture

Organisational culture is one of the most powerful, and misunderstood, concepts around. Leaders and coaches alike understand the power of culture to make—or, more likely, break—an agile transformation…

Is your Agile getting stale? Take the Mani-fresh-to Challenge today!

TLDR; Everything changed in 2020, even the Scrum Guide got an update, but the Agile Manifesto didn’t. With my good friend Chris, we came up with an idea to re-develop it and in the process, really pic…

On Agile & Mastery

I’m lucky enough to find my job professionally satisfying. That’s because I think that the line of work I’m in actually matters—not just to me, but to anyone who works in teams or with processes that …

Introduction to SAFe

SAFe® is an acronym for Scaled Agile Framework® and was introduced in 2011 by co-creators Dean Leffingwell and Drew Jemilo as an actionable framework for Business Agility, inspired by the Agile Manife…

Why OKRs aren’t enough on their own: Goals and Standards

Objectives and Key Results – OKRs – are a well known goal-setting technique; there’s a wealth of great content that explains what they are. This post is about OKRs as part of the ble…

Essential Skills – Critical Analysis

In a recent conversation with Tyrrell Basson from Manchester University, we explored the topic of ‘essential skills’ for the future. What skills would be necessary for an organisation to succeed 12 mo…

There Are Sabre-Toothed Tigers in Your Office

An ancient part of our brains that existed to keep us alive in a world of danger has evolved. But rather than evolving by toning down its power to cope with the much safer world of today, it has found…

The SCARF Model – How it affects agile teams

In the post ‘There Are Sabre-Toothed Tigers In Your Office‘, we discussed how our brains have evolved, and that the primal response that helped protect us from sabre-toothed tigers had cha…

Agile Coaching Capability

I’m a bit of a rugby fan and often find myself wanting to run out with the lads, moving through the field like a wrecking ball and scoring the winning try as the opposition lies in my wake, sobbing wi…

Innovation versus Protectionism

The last time we suffered a global pandemic that brought the world to its knees was in 1918. A little over a century ago. The Spanish Flu collided with a transitional world that had just been through …

ORCA – A powerful feedback model

Ken Blanchard described it as “the breakfast of champions”; Bill Gates said “We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve”; and Jim Yong Kim said that “the most fundamental thin…

Where did you get that hat?

In my previous blog post “Where are all the managers in Agile?”, I discussed why agile doesn’t need the kinds of management that is often present in organisations and suggested some alternatives that …

Bring rigour to your thinking

“Belief is so often the death of reason” – Lord Varys, Master of Whisperers – Game of Thrones The Agile Manifesto, created in Snowbird Utah (2001), is a work of Genius inspired by a team of bril…

Genesis: Levels of Agile Capability and Competence

Once upon a time, circa May 2016, the world was a comparatively predictable place. For the most part, square pegs fit into square holes, and we moved from point A to point D in a seemingly logical, se…

Covid Hack – Resilient versus Robust

Many of the corporations we work with are inherently designed to be robust. A concept that permeates every element of that business, from the processes that dictate workflow in each department through…

Facilitate rapid and effective decision-making

Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a collaborative, coaching-style workshop that brings together the teams who do the work and the leadership teams that support and facilitate the work. Making the value st…

Management versus Leadership

5 Weeks ago, our revenue streams dried up, literally overnight. The Covid-19 fairy waltzed in the front door, waved her magic wand, and *poof* our lives were irrevocably changed in a matter of hours. …

The Coaching Imposter #2

When I last posted something, before life changed significantly for all of us, I was coming to terms with the so-called Imposter Syndrome, but 5 months on from the inception of my Agile Coaching role,…

We didn’t have time for Governance!

Many Agile coaches and trainers often speak about the unicorns of Agile. Spotify. Netflix. Amazon. Agility is spoken of in the past tense. The idea that this happened a while ago, and we need to look …

Building bridges amidst disruption

The Case for Business Agility As an Agile coach, consultant and trainer, I pretty much live in a world of disruption, uncertainty and volatility. It’s par for the course. That said. If you’d asked me …

Coronavirus and The Corner Shop – A Portrait of Agility?

If ever one wanted the ultimate portrait of a VUCA world – volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous – the current crazy time through which we are living is it. The novel coronavirus, kn…

The Coaching Imposter

Agile Coaching? Hmm, yes I know what you’re thinking, “what does that mean and how is that an actual job?” Well, I’ve had a very broad variety of comments (my wife included) ranging from ‘I literally …

Agile Bootcamp #4 – Using Story Mapping to Teach Agile

User Story Mapping is a great technique to help teams explore their product scope and plan how they can deliver value to their customers as quickly as possible. Even for large and complex problems, te…

Agile Bootcamp #3 – Scrum Simulation with the Inception Deck

There are lots of ways to help introduce the concepts of Scrum to teams and to give them a chance to put their new knowledge into practice. I wanted to try something a little different. I wanted it to…

Agile Bootcamp #2 – Behind The Scenes at an Agile Bootcamp

The bootcamp is planned, the travel arrangements made and suitcases packed. Now, the hard work starts! After a long day travelling and a chunky time-shift, we arrived at our accommodation well into th…

Agile Bootcamp #1 – To Fail To Plan is to Plan To Fail

When we were asked if we could help another organisation start on their journey to agile, I was keen to get involved. Partly because I thought it would be interesting to get to know a new organisation…

The opportunity of IR35 for organisations and start-ups

The recent announcement from HMRC that IR35 and Off-Payroll Tax would come into effect on the 6th of April 2020 as a means to combat ‘disguised employment’ presents a significant threat to companies a…

Scrum Beyond Scrum

On my professionalisation journey to Scrum Alliance Certified Team Coach, I am collecting badges and certifications like a cub scout at a swimming gala. I am also going to conference presentations, re…

Don’t look back in anger

Continuous improvement is a core agile principle. The retrospective is an important event in all agile methods and an ideal time for teams to identify improvements. Yet too often, retrospectives are i…

The Peak of Mount Stupid

This is a blog about coaching; specifically, lean and agile coaching, though it applies to leadership or enterprise coaching just as much. I am part of a new coaching service aimed at increasing the m…

The Origins of Scrum and Agile

As leadership guru Steve Denning has written, Agile is “not about doing more work in less time: it’s about generating more value with less work.” At base, both Agile and Scrum emerged from an imp…

Scrum and the Agile Manifesto

The values and principles of the Agile manifesto are designed to remind you of one thing above all: that whatever you are producing, you are producing it for actual use by actual people in actual situ…

Ethics and morals

Anyone whose profession involves advising others needs to be concerned about ethics. In a more general sense, of course, all humans should be worried about this―but when you work as a coach, the matte…

Feedback in Coaching

All coaches reading this will probably agree that the following outline, provided by Jonathan Moss, is a useful and accurate snapshot of the essential elements of coaching: Collaboration – Both …

Metaphor, Simile and Analogies

Communication in all its aspects is of vital importance to effective coaching. Getting the most out of the spoken and written language you use sharpens your coaching. Comparative and figurative speech…

Challenging and Requesting

A considerable part of a coach’s job is to challenge clients. If they do not stretch, if they do not take chances and try to move out of their comfort zones, there will be little scope for the sort of…

The CLEAR Model

In the early 1980s, Peter Hawkins developed the CLEAR model, and thus slightly pre-dates the GROW model. CLEAR is, in many ways, like the GROW model, but weaves a couple of other elements into a coach…

The FUEL Model

The FUEL model is a coaching tool that consists of four components: Frame the conversation: Set the context for dialogue by agreeing on the purpose, process, and desired outcomes of the discussion. Un…

Hidden Aspects of Communication

Communication consists of far more than speaking and writing. Most of us are unaware that we communicate in many different ways even when we are not speaking. This communication is so for both hu…

Body Language

As important as the spoken word is, body language may convey even more information than speech. As a coach, you need to be aware of how body language works. It is essential that you be able to read cl…

The Trust Equation

Trust relationships are vital to the way we do business today. In fact, the level of trust present in business relationships, whether internally with employees and colleagues or externally with client…

Coaching: Face to Face or Over the Phone?

Coaches are often called upon to work with clients who do not live or work in proximity to them. In this age of remote work, when we have more tools than ever at our disposal to help us communicate wi…

Empathy

Empathy is a quality particularly crucial in a coach. Clients, as a rule, start out as strangers―they come to you looking for help and guidance with issues that may seem entirely professional, but inv…

History of the GROW Model

In the mid-to-late 1980s, Alan Fine, Graham Alexander, and Sir John Whitmore developed the GROW model—today one of the most recognised and influential coaching models in the world. The model came abou…

Reflecting

As a coach, you cannot afford to misunderstand your clients. Communication between you needs to be clear at all times. If clients feel that you do not get what they are saying, there will be little ch…

Active Listening

Active listening is a communication technique that requires the listener to feed back what he or she hears to the speaker. This communication can be in the form of simple repetition of what the s…

Levels of Listening

For a coach, there can surely be few skills more important than listening. Hearing what your client is saying, with attention and compassion, is key to being able to understand that person’s desires a…

The GROW Model Explained

The GROW model is a solid, time-tested coaching tool that can help coaches ensure efficient results for their clients. GROW stands for: Goal Reality Options (sometimes Obstacles) Wrap-up (sometimes Wi…

What do Agile and Electricity have in Common?

In February, it will be 17 years since the writing of the Agile Manifesto. Much was, and still is, promised by those who espouse Agile frameworks. There is still a great excitement and appetite for in…

The Responsibility Process® in Action

Recently I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days with Christopher Avery renewing my practice of responsibility. The workshop was on The Responsibility Process and how to lead and coach others in …

Using your Intuition

In the words of Francis P. Cholle, Intuition is a process that gives us the ability to know something directly without analytic reasoning, bridging the gap between the conscious and non-conscious part…

Staying Curious

Curiosity is vital for any coach. It helps us stay interested in our clients and their goals, in our work, and in life in general. How can we cultivate curiosity, and how can our clients and we benefi…

A Cycle for your Coaching Relationship

Any coaching conversation is only as good as the trust and intimacy of the relationship between coach and coachee. And for the coachee with themselves. As we progress through a coaching relationship, …

Growing Great Scrum Masters

Agile Coaching has a big problem with the way it currently operates. A problem that sees vast swathes of practitioners and consultancies consistently failing their clients. A problem that leads to Agi…

Enterprise Scrum and how it supports Business Agility

Currently, within the corporate universe, agility in business has become a key factor in maintaining a good position in the market. A company without innovation and quick answers to the market in cons…

How many Saturdays?

Have you ever wondered how many Saturdays you have left? If you knew, would you change the way you spent the next one? How about meetings or conversations or emails? If you knew how many you had left,…

An argument of coaches

It was another Thursday morning meeting. “Who puts in a 9am meeting? On a Thursday?” “Sorry everyone on the line. Give us a minute to sort out the connection problems.” “…

My Journey to CEC

There are two questions that I am often asked about being a Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC). First, what is a CEC? Second, why did you choose to become one? I shall attempt to answer b…

The Road LeSS Travelled – Becoming a LeSS Trainer

When I first started working with multiple teams, I did not know where to start. Scrum is great at lowering the water and exposing rocks within organisations. Fixing them, on the other hand, is a diff…

LeSS is More

It’s the age old debate. ‘I want self-organising teams, but I need to set some constraints. I want some level of prescription, but how much is reasonable? When does it start disempowering the te…

We all know what kindness is, surely?

There’s no end of well-intentioned articles about feelings and conduct on the internet. We have all kinds of movements and “isms” and philosophies available to us, and we pay varying degrees of attent…

Who’s responsible here?

I talk to many people about the concept of responsibility at work, especially as so few people see it as their responsibility to make sure things happen, trotting out the good old “it’s not in m…

Meetings with feet

Open Space is without a doubt my kind of conference. You do not sit listening to someone else talk; instead, you engage in the discussion. Personally, I think this is by far a more exciting way to lea…

Role retrospectives

I’ve been at my current client for roughly a month. The role isn’t that clear but I’m here to serve, lead and coach the team and business. To gain more clarity of what the team …