Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Bermuda Triangle of Conflict

Part of the role of a ScrumMaster is to help teams identify and resolve impediments to progress.  Odds are you have experienced the following scenario on your Agile team:

A team member comes to you complaining about a conflict he has with another person on the team.  You are asked to "fix" the problem. As a dutiful leader, you may feel obligated to rescue your team member and address the problem by assuming your team mate's version of the story is complete and approaching the other person to address the problem.

We've essentially formed a triangle in this conflict between the Victim, the Persecutor, and the Rescuer.  Odds are the situation becomes complicated once you discover there are two sides to the story between the victim and persecutor. And now you are stuck in the Bermuda Triangle of Conflict.

As a coach and a leader, how do you avoid this Bermuda Triangle? Here are some helpful tips:
  • When a victim comes to you complaining about someone else, ask the following question: "So what did <insert persecutor's name> say when you approached them about this? It's important to ask in this open-end format. Don't ask a yes/no question like "Did you approach...?" The open-ended question sends a message to your team member that he/she is expected to at least attempt to resolve it before coming to you.
  • When a victim indicates that "isn't it your role to resolve conflicts?", you can remind them of your expectation that they at least attempt to resolve their own conflicts first. Otherwise you may become overwhelmed with people asking to resolve their problems.
 As a leader, we should avoid immediately jumping in to resolve a team member's problem for another reason. Conflict resolution is a basic life skill that all of us need to continually develop. By becoming a rescuer we have actually denied our team member an opportunity to develop this important skill. Part of our job as leader and coach is to develop our team members. Let's not pass on these opportunities!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Agile Cross-Pollination: Growing Agile Adoption at Farm Credit

I presented this topic at the 2014 CodepaLOUsa conference in February.  Farm Credit is an excellent example of what can happen when the Business and IT sides of a company work together as partners in Agile adoption. Now don't get me wrong, they don't claim to be perfect or be the shining example of Agile adoption. But they admit to making great progress in their adoption journey.


Monday, February 24, 2014

Facilitating the Heart of Coaching

For the last 3 days I 've participated in a Heart of Coaching facilitators workshop led by Tom Crane. 
What a jewel of a guy! And what a great opportunity to learn from one of the masters of coaching. More than just a refresher on the roadmap for transformational coaching, this workshop was a practicum in presentation and facilitation skills.  I came out of it with a bag full of tips and tricks for facilitating teams.

Do you want to learn more about coaching and facilitation?  Try Tom Crane's Heart of Coaching workshops!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Coaching Upwards

A favorite resource book I share with clients is the Heart of Coaching by Thomas Crane. Coaching others is a critical skill that an Agile coach can share to help teams and organizations develop a coaching culture. Coaching each other helps to improve relationships and collaboration. It also helps teams to progress quicker through the development stages of forming, storming and normalizing.  But  what about coaching your leader? Can you coach your leader?  Should you coach your leader?
While coaching may seem like a daunting task, it is well worth the investment, especially when the coachee is your leader. Why?
We are all on a personal journey of continuous improvement.  Coaching your leader is to help him or her become more self-aware of those opportunities for improvement, not only for themselves, but also for those whom they support.  And odds are, they’re already aware of those opportunities.  They just forget.
Understandably, you may be reluctant to approach your leader and discuss how their behavior or decision may be impacting your work.  But remember this - - many leaders  expect you to coach upward to them.  Their being ‘coachable’ allows us to create a safe environment where everyone can speak their mind freely for the benefit of all.
As your coaching culture continues to grows within and outside your project team, all will see the need to make a personal decision to change. If you are a leader, have you asked your employees to share coaching feedback with you? Do it early and often!
Here are some articles and tips on the subject of coaching your leader that may be helpful:

Hope these help!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Join me at 2014 CodePaLOUsa to Learn about Agile Adoption at Farm Credit!

I'll be presenting Agile Cross-Pollination: Growing Adoption at Farm Credit at the 2014 CodePaLOUsa.  Here's an overview of the paper.  Hope you can attend!

What happens when the business side of your company, after seeing the success of Scrum used by your IT side, tries to use the same techniques and practices? This presentation will provide an overview of the Farm Credit Mid-America (FCMA) journey to Agile adoption within IT and its internal business partners. Scrum was first introduced within its application development team in 2008, then Kanban was introduced in 2011. Gradually adoption grew and now over a dozen IT and business teams have chosen to also adopt some of the same practices and techniques.

Come hear FCMA's story of cultivating an Agile work environment within and outside it's IT department. See how the job of the developer, product owner and tester become easier with business-side Agile adoption. Learn some of the surprising benefits gained when IT and the business side of a company are utilizing similar approaches to agile work management.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Are You My Customer or Partner?

" IT as a Business" (ITAAB) has been a common marketing slogan and business model promoted by thought leaders from firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and Forbes in the past ten years.1 At its core is a philosophy of managing IT as a self-sustaining service that treats internal users as external customers. The model had its origins in the IT outsourcing industry. At first glance, it seems a logical and responsible IT strategy, especially for companies with large internal IT departments. But recently, a few leading consultants and CIOs have started to challenge this "best practice" based on their experience in the real world of business. Read more.