A typical team engagement for agile transformation or adoption takes the following outline approach:
Discovery and Context
We start with a short period of discovery and context consulting to ensure specific characteristics of the domain are understood. This is achieved through meeting and talking with key stakeholders in the adoption or improvement of agile delivery. To be clear, this is not an exhaustive analysis of the organisation, structure, practices or skills. Instead, it is used to inform the approach to be taken for the engagement, become familiar with terminology, establish relationships and build rapport. Typically, this would be over just three to five days, depending on the size of the organisation.
High Impact Training
Initial training is designed to have a high impact, to quickly build motivation and momentum for adoption and change. We would typically use a foundation course such as Introduction to Agile. This provides a grounding in the principles of agile and the intention behind specific practices. The training builds confidence in individuals and within a team so that they take ownership of the things they do. At the end of these sessions a team takes away specific tasks for them to action as soon as they get back to work.
Coaching into Practice
The outcomes from training provide specific actions for the team. However, they often need the guidance, reassurance and practical help to turn this into reality. This period of coaching is there to maintain momentum, showing people how to use specific techniques. It also provides feedback and, often most importantly, helps to unblock things that are seemingly going to get in the way of progress. Emphasis is placed on showing and helping people to take action. Therefore, they continue to own the approach and don’t build dependencies. This is typically a full-time coaching activity over two weeks, at which point the coach can begin to take on a supporting role.
The intensity of coaching drops during this phase. The team need to find the balance between implementing new techniques and getting on with the primary task of delivery. Typically, this phase demands two days per week, dropping to one day per week as the team grows in confidence. The same coaching objective is maintained – to support the team and individuals to own change. Coaching remains action based, holding the team to account for the actions they agree to take. As practices and confidence matures, the team will move to a self-sustaining mode.
We want teams to be self-sustaining in their approach from this point. We also want them to be reassured that there’s someone to call on where there are challenges. At the same time, we want to keep the team honest and let them know we are interested in their progress. Coaching activities drop to one day per fortnight, then one day per month and finally become event-driven.
Agile Transformation Coaching Model Dependencies
The key dependencies for making changes ‘stick’ is the people and their roles. Sometimes we identify that the team is not made up of the right people or there may not be effective leadership. These are identified early, so that action can be taken, but we don’t shy away from bringing this insight.
There can also be dependencies outside the team which will prevent them from becoming highly effective. A common challenge is the way product requirements are managed, to get them ready for delivery. We have specific insight and capability in product management and business strategy alignment, that will help to achieve an end to end improvement in product delivery.