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The false dichotomy of agile coaching - Lean Agile Scotland 2019

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At the Agile Coach Camp (San Diego 2018) there was a recurrent theme: the agile coaching profession has become split between process coaches and technical coaches. This split is common across the industry, at almost every agile conference, in almost every transitioning organisation, in almost any domain. It is evident in the Agile Alliance as well - with the launch a few years ago of Deliver:Agile, in response to the reducing technical content of the Agile conference.
While teams and organisations often do need help with process, the ultimate measure of success (as described by the Agile Manifesto) is working software. Delivering working software, ultimately, needs teams to refine and improve their technical practices. To do this, teams are frequently offered short, intense, technical training courses - costly, time-consuming, and often disappointing. If instead they were offered the input of skilled coaches and facilitators - the sweet spot of the typical agile coach - they would grow as technologists and team-members, empowered and enthused by self-driven learning. How sad, then, that many agile coaches disqualify themselves from helping with the common refrain "I'm non-technical".
In this session, we'll look at the background to this split and discover that it is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of coaching. We'll discover just how technical the typical process coach is. and explore how every agile coach can use their skill and experience to help teams deliver high quality software. Finally, we'll take a brief look at a new track at this year's conference, Technical Excellence, which is specifically aimed at giving agile coaches the confidence to help their teams tackle some of their technical challenges.
The future of agile depends on teams improving their technical practices - and they need coaches to help them achieve this. Come along and become part of the vision of an agile community that has healed the technical/process divide, empowering agile coaches to do what they are good at - which is coaching.

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The false dichotomy of agile coaching - Lean Agile Scotland 2019

  1. 1. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Seb Rose The false dichotomy of agile coaching: process or technical?
  2. 2. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Agenda A dichotomy is born Let’s talk about coaching Technical reviews Developer skills A false dichotomy Q & A
  3. 3. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Agenda A dichotomy is born Let’s talk about coaching Technical reviews Developer skills A false dichotomy Q & A
  4. 4. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Conferences are splintering and many more
  5. 5. @sebrose http://smartbear.com
  6. 6. @sebrose http://smartbear.com (process) An Agile coach is a person who is responsible for creating and improving Agile processes within a team or a company. https://www.toptal.com/project-managers/agile/what-is-an-agile-coach#targetText=An%20Agile%20coach%20is%20a,a%20team%20or%20a%20company Agile coach
  7. 7. @sebrose http://smartbear.com What is an agile technical coach? An Agile Technical Coach (ATC) is someone who has the experience and knowledge to put their hands on a keyboard to show engineers how to implement XP 12 practices, focus on building-in quality, enforce SCM rules, among their other agile coaching duties. REALLY ???
  8. 8. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Exercise 1: - what skills should a technical coach have?
  9. 9. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Agenda A dichotomy is born Let’s talk about coaching Technical reviews Developer skills A false dichotomy Q & A
  10. 10. @sebrose http://smartbear.com What is coaching Coaching assists a client to bridge the gap between where they are now, to where they would like to be far more effectively than if they worked alone. https://www.the-coaching-academy.com/coaching/index.asp
  11. 11. @sebrose http://smartbear.com A coach achieves this by: • Helping to raise the awareness of a client with powerful questioning techniques • Assisting them to create practical, step-by-step action plans to reach their goals • Providing on-going support through any changes or obstacles a client may encounter • Providing a client with tools, techniques and strategies to create lasting change and success https://www.the-coaching-academy.com/coaching/index.asp
  12. 12. @sebrose http://smartbear.com ACI framework https://agileforall.com/understanding-acis-agile-coach-competency-framework/
  13. 13. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Teaching …  is about teaching people something. Typically teaching has some pre-defined outcomes or objectives. This is where the … “expert” may live - telling people how to do something. https://agileforall.com/understanding-acis-agile-coach-competency-framework/
  14. 14. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Mentoring …  is definitely also  focused on imparting knowledge.  https://agileforall.com/understanding-acis-agile-coach-competency-framework/
  15. 15. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Facilitation … is about holding that impartial stance. You m a y f a c i l i t a t e t h e t e a m t h r o u g h a retrospective, but you are impartial. Your goal is to hold them to the agreed on guidelines, but you do not have a specific expected outcome.  https://agileforall.com/understanding-acis-agile-coach-competency-framework/
  16. 16. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Professional coaching … is about being impartial to the goal. Coming from professional coaching, you believe, truly, that the team can solve the problems they have. You work with them to help the team to solve those issues and be their best selves. https://agileforall.com/understanding-acis-agile-coach-competency-framework/
  17. 17. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Exercise 2: fill in the table Technical Business Transformation Teaching Mentoring Facilitation Professional coaching
  18. 18. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Agenda A dichotomy is born Let’s talk about coaching Technical reviews Developer skills A false dichotomy Q & A
  19. 19. @sebrose http://smartbear.com https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/review
  20. 20. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Design reviews • Does the proposal make sense? • How well does it align with strategic direction? • Have the right people been consulted? • Are there unresolved disagreements? Sample checklist
  21. 21. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Code reviews • Does the code make sense? • Do the automated tests document the behaviour? • Does it conform to agreed standards? • Are there structural weaknesses? • Have dependencies been considered? Sample checklist
  22. 22. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Exercise 3: - could you coach teams to do code reviews? - if so, how? - if not, why not?
  23. 23. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Agenda A dichotomy is born Let’s talk about coaching Technical reviews Developer skills A false dichotomy Q & A
  24. 24. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Pair programming https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pair_programming … is an agile software development technique in which two  programmers  work together at one workstation. One, the  driver writes code while the other, the observer or navigator, reviews each line of code as it is typed in. The two programmers switch roles frequently.
  25. 25. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Continuous integration … is the practice of merging all developers' working copies to a shared mainline several times a day. Extreme programming (XP) adopted the concept of CI and advocates integrating more than once per day – perhaps as many as tens of times per day. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuous_integration
  26. 26. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Test driven development (TDD) … relies on the repetition of a very short development cycle: requirements are turned into very specific test cases, then the software is improved so that the tests pass. This is opposed to software development that allows software to be added that is not proven to meet requirements. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Test-driven_development
  27. 27. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Exercise 4: Pick one of these developer skills: - Pair programming - Continuous integration - Test driven development Create a checklist to seed your coaching - use the Wikipedia link (or your favourite search engine)
  28. 28. @sebrose http://smartbear.com What if the team needs teaching? https://www.flickr.com/photos/44232489@N02/33637962635
  29. 29. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Agenda A dichotomy is born Let’s talk about coaching Technical reviews Developer skills A false dichotomy Q & A
  30. 30. @sebrose http://smartbear.com False dichotomy? A false dichotomy is a dichotomy that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap), or that is possibly neither.
  31. 31. @sebrose http://smartbear.com False dichotomy? A false dichotomy is typically used in an argument to force your opponent into an extreme position -- by making the assumption that there are only two positions.
  32. 32. @sebrose http://smartbear.com Exercise 5: Look back at the skills you thought a coach needed to do technical coaching. - Have you changed your opinion?
  33. 33. @sebrose http://smartbear.com False dichotomy? Q. Are you an agile process coach or an agile technical coach? A. Neither!
 You’re an agile coach.
  34. 34. @sebrose http://smartbear.com NEW TRACK: Coaching Technical Skills For Less Technical Coaches This track is for agile coaches and leads, both internal and external, to learn how to participate in working with teams to encourage Technical Practices without having that technical expertise themselves. Postscript
  35. 35. @sebrose http://smartbear.com • There are a variety of coaching stances
 • Not all of them require deep knowledge
 • “Non-technical” coaches can help teams improve their technical practices Take aways
  36. 36. Seb Rose 
 Twitter: @sebrose Blog: http:/cucumber.io/blog E-mail: seb@smartbear.com http://bddbooks.com