On Coaching: Train One Aspect at a Time
Updated: Apr 7, 2021
General Rule: Scrum Masters need to focus on one aspect at a time while coaching the team to be efficient and secure learning. This is not something new, but we always forget and need someone to remember it.
However this does not mean that the Scrum Master should close all other channels of communication and only focus on one thing.
e.g. you can focus on understanding the importance of the Sprint Goal while you finish your Dailies, while you go over the board or the burn-down chart, while you do the Retrospective and Planning. Supportive storytelling: football gives you lots of similarities when we discuss about the Sprint Goal. The whole team becomes a defending team in football when there is a bottleneck, similar to the scrum members who should all do testing, if the testing pipeline is broken. In the end ''working software is the primary measure of progress'' (Agile principle).
This Topic also attracts discussions about DoR (stories that are not ready can jeopardize your SG) and DoD (you reach your goal when your story is Done - but when is it?) while understanding the importance of the Sprint Goal, so we will not only focus on Sprint Goal, but bring into discussions topics that help us complete our learning.
When do you stop with a topic and start with another one? There are plenty of signals that can let you know that the topic has progressed on the Shu-ha-ri ladder. It should not be too slow, as you will have problems seeing the results, but also not too fast as you may not get a solid learning.
For Sprint Goal you need at least 2 Sprints to check if this is understood and the best signals would be the board/burn-down chart. The Sprint Goal should also be part of the Information Radiators in the team's space or in their virtual work space for remote teams. The achievement of the Sprint Goal should be celebrated with the team.
We got it faster, now what?
High performing teams are on the same page very fast, you do not need to tell them twice and they figure out for themselves. In this case you need to plan ahead and be prepared with the next topic, while they keep their learning enthusiasm.
New Agile Project. What to start first?
I could write a book about this subject. When you start fresh, you have the tendency to bring too many topics too fast. All is new and takes time to be first accepted and then practiced. You need to start small in this case and plan the minimum viable agility - the least amount of agile knowledge you would like the team to start with.
In one project we started with a Kanban flow within 2 weeks sprint and the only meetings we had were Dailies, Refinements and Planning. All the others came later on, step by step. Agile Trainings are important in this case to ensure basic knowledge. Terminology is also important for people new to Agile, as they need time to digest. Information Radiators are in this sense very important at the beginning to easily support the new terms.
For me the most important thing however at the beginning of a project is to build the team, people to get to know each other and create a relationship between us. Team personal time is crucial in increasing team productivity.
Anything else you would add? Share your feedback in the comments bellow.