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Posts from the ‘agile management’ Category

Agile managers do not act like cowboys

Image by anyjazz65

Managers are expected to get their teams to deliver on the objectives that are established. Managers are also expected to keep their people happy and motivated. How can one accomplish these two seemingly incompatible expectations?

Let’s first distinguish management from leadership.

Management books often make a distinction between managers and leaders, depicting leadership as if it is more about heroics than management. […] Managers are then advised to transform themselves to leaders, turning employees into willing followers, instead of herding them like sheep. […] Separating leadership from management is like comparing women to humans. It doesn’t make sense. […] Comparing women to men seems more logical to me. – Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders

I agree with Jurgen that leadership is one of the ways to accomplish a manager’s role.

Along the same lines, I hear from time to time conversations within Agile circles and read Agile related blog posts promoting soft leadership, leading without authority and laissez-faire [The latter is sometime mistakenly perceived to be self-organization. Self-organization is something else and requires clear boundaries, but that’s for another post] as the answer to the management conundrum. Is that really the silver-bullet?

In almost all organizations, the manager’s role is fairly similar.

Management in all business and organizational activities is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives using available resources efficiently and effectively. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal. […] Since organizations can be viewed as systems, management can also be defined as human action, including design, to facilitate the production of useful outcomes from a system. This view opens the opportunity to ‘manage’ oneself, a pre-requisite to attempting to manage others. – wikipedia

For a large number of individuals in management responsibility, authority is perceived to be the most effective tool to ensure compliance and to get people to do with is expected. Please bear with me, the analogy isn’t perfect but the image is powerful. For me, authority is similar to carrying a gun [or whatever your preferred weapon happens to be].

It is easy to obtain compliance and get people to do what we tell them to do when we – the managers – are the only people carrying a weapon. It is especially true if the weapon is constantly out of the holster and pointing directly at the team [figuratively speaking, of course]. So authority gets us compliance (for most part) and may allow us to meet our objectives (some of the time) but authority doesn’t bring the best out of people. Authority certainly doesn’t make people happy and motivated.

On the other hand, if we aim to keep people happy and motivated first, we are more likely to adopt a laissez-faire approach.

Lewin often characterized organizational management styles and cultures in terms of leadership climates defined by (1) authoritarian, (2) democratic and (3) laissez-faire work environments. Authoritarian environments are characterized where the leader determines policy with techniques and steps for work tasks dictated by the leader in the division of labor. The leader is not necessarily hostile but is aloof from participation in work and commonly offers personal praise and criticism for the work done. Democratic climates are characterized where policy is determined through collective processes with decisions assisted by the leader. Before accomplishing tasks, perspectives are gained from group discussion and technical advice from a leader. Members are given choices and collectively decide the division of labor. Praise and criticism in such an environment are objective, fact minded and given by a group member without necessarily having participated extensively in the actual work. Laissez-faire Environments give freedom to the group for policy determination without any participation from the leader. The leader remains uninvolved in work decisions unless asked, does not participate in the division of labor, and very infrequently gives praise. – wikipedia

When nobody carries a weapon, such as in the case of laissez-faire leadership style, people are freer to select goals that appeal to them and are more likely to be successful at reaching their objectives. Unfortunately, managing people (as in the wikipedia definition “getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives”) becomes extremely difficult and maybe impossible in a business context (trust me, we have tried that unsuccessfully).

To be an agile manager doesn’t mean to avoid using authority and to strictly rely on our influencing capabilities. It doesn’t mean to let people determine the business orientation that the organization will be taking either. As in many fruitless debates, taking an “either or” perspective doesn’t lead to the best answer. Agile managers need to be able to use authority, but not as their primary tool.

Let me explain.

Agile managers need to take the time to explain the objectives they aim to achieve and get people to follow them (leadership) into attempting to reach the objectives. Just like good diplomats, agile managers should begin with good listening skills, influence, and negotiation when they are faced with people resistance and challenges. Only in extreme cases should we turn to authority to get people to do what we need them to do. Like many things in life, using authority comes at a cost (diminished commitment from the team, reduced motivation) and as such, should be used wisely.

This leads me to my last point. In addition to management skills, people’s tolerance to stress needs to determine if they should be entitled to manage a team. As most psychometric tests can tell, we – humans – tend to operate differently when we are within our comfort zone (low stress) or outside our comfort zone (high stress). While in our comfort zone, we usually take advantage of many of our built-in or acquired skills which doesn’t increase one’s anxiety level. By contrast, stepping too much outside our comfort zone leads to decreased performance and substantially increased anxiety levels. People for who management is within their comfort zone or people who have better abilities to deal with stress are less likely to use authority as their primary tool. As such, agile managers are more likely to wait until the situation is critical before they even think of going “Clint Eastwood” on people.

So next time you are thinking of promoting someone in a management position, do not simply look for their skills. Assess their ability to manage their stress level.

Cracking the Code for Standout Performance – Applying the approach to Agile Teams

I just finished reading Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance.

In Great Business Teams, renowned business consultant Howard M. Guttman takes you inside some of the world’s most successful corporations—Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, Mars Incorporated, and L’Oréal, to name a few—to discover how a powerful new high-performance horizontal model has changed the way leaders lead, team members function, challenges are met, and decisions are made. He also reveals how and why the organizations that have implemented this innovative team structure have become great companies, able to ride the crosscurrents during lean times and truly soar when opportunities arise.

As Agile team coaches or organizational coaches, we aim to increase the teams’ performance in an attempt to deliver better results. We improve quality, help the team work more efficiently, and have fun while delivering increased business value. Interestingly, many of the observations presented in Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance are in line with the Agile values and principles. Here are some of the keys points to remember:

1. Great Business Teams are Led by High-Performance Leaders who:

  • Create a “burning platform” for fundamental change;
  • Are visionaries and architects;
  • Know they cannot do it alone;
  • Build authentic relationships;
  • Model the behaviors they expect from their team;
  • Redefine the fundamentals of leadership.

Isn’t this what we would expect of the Product Owner in Scrum?

Interestingly, the author positions the process by wish the leader achieves these objectives by asking tough questions such as:

  • What is the business strategy and how committed are we to achieving it?
  • What key operational goals flow from the strategy and how do we make sure these goals drive day-to-day decision making?
  • Are we clear on roles and accountabilities?
  • What protocols or ground rules will we play by as a team?
  • Will our business relationships and interdependencies be built on candor and transparency?

Hence, the support of an external coach is useful and can help the leader ask powerful questions.

2. Members of Great Business Teams are Us-Directed Leaders

Members of great business teams think of themselves as accountable not only for their own performance but for that of their colleagues. Similar to the concept of self-organized teams, great business teams typically take accountability to achieve their objectives.

On high-performing teams, accountability goes well beyond the individuals recognition that he or she is part of the problem. It even goes beyond holding peers on a team accountable for performance. “Us” accountability includes holding the team leader accountable as well.

3. Great Business Teams Play by Protocols

Once a leader with the right skills is in place and supported by a self-organized team, the group needs to agree on the rules they will play by. Obviously, the more structured its way of working together, the less likelihood of misunderstanding, conflict or costly delays and bottlenecks the team will encounter.

One important set of protocols related to decision making.

Straight-up rules such as “no triangulations or enlistment of third party”, “resolve it or let it go”, “don’t accuse in absentia”, and “no hand from the grave or second guessing decisions” can eliminate much of the unresolved conflict that paralyzes teams and keeps them from moving to a higher level of performance.

4. Great Business Continually Raise The Performance Bar

No matter how much it achieves, great business teams are never satisfied, they implement self-monitoring, self-evaluation, continuous improvement, and raise the bar. The continuous improvement process helps a highly performing team to keep improving its performance and deliver impressive results.

5. Great Business Teams Have A Supportive Performance Management System

Having the right individuals in the right roles and establishing clear rules of engagement are not sufficient. The performance monitoring systems have to be inline with the expected behaviors.

  • Team and individual goals have to be crystal clear;
  • The necessary technical and interpersonal skills have to be provided;
  • Performance has to be monitored;
  • And feedback has to be timely an well thought out.

The book wasn’t written for an Agile audience but after reading it, it seems to me that applying the Agile principles would come close to cracking the code for standout performance.

2010 World’s Most Agile Manager (WMAM) Contest

Image by Mays Business SchoolWe are already approaching the end of 2010. With the Agile Manifesto turning 10 years-old next year and the growing interest of Agile in organizations, I am launching the 2010 World’s Most Agile Manager (WMAM) contest.

Do you know a truly Agile Manager?

The adoption rate of Agile is increasing and there is growing acceptance that in order to be long lasting, Agile transitions need managers to modify their leadership style.

Are managers actually adapting their management style to support self-organized teams? Is there a new breed of managers whose profile are fully in line with the Agile values and principles? Do you know such a manager?

Are you one of the lucky few who have had the opportunity to work with such a special individual in 2010? If you are, recognize the efforts and contribution of such an individual and submit their name to the WMAM contest.

How to enter this contest?

You must submit the name of a manager you have had the opportunity to work with during 2010, who clearly demonstrated his/her adherence to the Agile values and principles.

Simply enter the name of the Agile Manager as well as the name of his/her organization. In addition, provide a short explanation why you believe this individual deserves to be selected as the World’s Most Agile Manager.

Who can participate?

To participate, the Agile Manager has to have people or project management responsibilities and has to have clearly demonstrated alignment with the Agile values and principles.

What does the winner receive?

In addition to public recognition and the rights to brag about being the World’s Most Agile Manager, the winner is likely to receive countless job offers, a potential salary increase from his/her existing employer, much publicity in well-known blogs, and maybe even a plaque to be posted on his / her office walls.


This contest ends January 15th, 2011. The public will determine the winner of this contest. The winner will be the candidate who receives the most votes on their submission. Good luck to all participants. Don’t wait, enter the contest now!

Get the logo

If you have been nominated for the World’s Most Agile Manager, you can download the logo and add it to your web site. Tell you friends to vote for you.

I don’t feel so good – I’m a people manager in an Agile organization

Image by Leonard John MatthewsAt the Agile 2010 Conference this week, out of the two hundred or so sessions presented, a number of them talked about the role of the manager in an Agile team. A few people believe managers are no longer necessary once the team has self-organized while others say people managers are still required. Either group failed to provide compelling arguments for their position.

The notion of self-organized teams keeps gaining visibility and acceptance. Those who have adopted the approach can’t stop talking about the benefits. At the same time, people realize that managers are unlikely to disappear from the organizational landscape anytime soon. In this context, it is with a mixed-feeling that Agilists talk about the role of the people manager in an agile organization – mostly as something not so useful but that the team needs to keep around in order to maintain their autonomy – something similar to the appendix.

The most common explanation for the appendix’s existence in humans is that it’s a vestigial structure which has lost its original function – source wikipedia

Then a few things happened.

First, I got to attend Michael Spayd‘s session called “Blueprint for an Agile Enterprise: Plans, Tools & Tech to Build a Human Enterprise”.

Want your whole organization to be more like an Agile team? Starting teams is well understood; expanding Agile to the organization is definitely not. Using 8 years experience applying organization development to Agile, we’ll unfold a 7 layer organizational architecture for building a human enterprise. Each level has an overall perspective, specific tools and key practices. Part tutorial, part demo, we’ll create a change plan for one participant’s organization, exploring culture, leadership, change, team performance, and management’s role. You’ll leave with a plan template and many ideas – source Agile 2010 Program

Then, I went to Damon Poole’s session called “Getting Managers and Agile Teams Out of Each Other’s Hair”.

One of the most talked about and least well understood concepts in Agile is the “self-managing” team. This session will provide a new perspective on self-management by examining the external roots of the practice and by taking a bottom-up look at what it is, the benefits, and how it works. We’ll see how twelve widely adopted Agile practices contribute to self-management by reducing and/or redistributing traditional management activities. These practices provide a framework for delegation, communication and coordination; and encourage team ownership, commitment and accountability – source Agile 2010 Program

Finally, I also attended Jim Highsmith session called “What do Agile Executives and Leaders Do?”

In some circles agile executives and leaders are admonished to buy pizza and get out of the way. In others they are asked to be supportive of self-organizing teams. But leading agile organizations requires more. There are specific activities that help build agile organizations that can weather business turbulence. This session will explore those activities that an agile leader or executive must “do,” including: revising performance measurements; facilitating self-organizing teams; developing strategies for operational, portfolio, and strategic agility; and assessing how agile to be source Agile 2010 Program

After the sessions, I sat in the lobby of the conference and read some of the blog feeds I subscribe to and came across these…

Obviously, something’s up!

The role of a traditional people manager

In many organizations and depending on their level, people managers are expected to plan, direct, organize and control (Deming‘s Plan-Do-Check-Act) – more specifically, the role of the manager is to:

  • Define the individual objectives
  • Assign work to team members
  • Determine priorities of the tasks
  • Monitor progress of the activities
  • Make decisions for the team
  • Get visibility into the work of the team
  • Mentor and train employees
  • Protect the team’s financial and human resources
  • Provide career development opportunities
  • Build relationships with other departments and teams
  • Motivate the team members
  • Communicate information

What self-organization removes from the equation

Once the concept of self-organized team is implemented, there are a few things that were traditionally the responsibility of the people manager that now fall on the team. The activities are:

  • Assigning work – team members now select their tasks instead of the manager
  • Determine priorities – team members now determine the order in which they should to complete their work
  • Monitor progress – team members track their own progress and make it visible and accessible to those who need to know
  • Make decision for the team – within the team, team members get to make their decisions
  • Get visibility into the work – team members track their own progress and make it visible and accessible to those who need to know
  • Mentor and train employees – when possible, team members may decide to implement a mentoring program within the team
  • Motivate – self-organized individuals are known to be more motivated than traditional teams, hence the reduced need for the people manager to retain this activity

So what is left for the people manager?

In order for the people managers to transform into Agile leaders and feel as part of the team, we already stated they need to modify their role. The agile manager will achieve higher level of performance and possibly increased personal job satisfaction by macro-managing – working with an increased perspective as opposed to getting into the details. As such, the activities the agile managers need to retain are to:

  • Define high level objectives for their team and department instead of focusing on the tasks
  • Determine priorities in the objectives of the team and department instead of the activities
  • Monitor progress toward achieving the objectives
  • Coach employees
  • Continue to protect the team’s resources
  • Support employees in their career development
  • Build relationships with other departments and teams

I realize that this type of transition is easier said than done but with the willingness to recapture an important role as part of the team and with some external help, the traditional managers don’t have to became extinct professionals.

Sir, please step away from the team

Picture by AndyWilsonIn conversations with upper management, I often hear that they wish to start using an Agile approach to increase their return on investment (ROI) and the employee motivation – which is great! They have read or have been told that changing their approach should lead to:

  • Delivering solutions that meet the business needs…
  • …without exceeding time lines or costs and…
  • …increase efficiency and productivity.

Many people manager (although not all) understand that people are more motivated when they are self organized and as such, take their commitments more seriously than if the commitments were made by others on their behalf (i.e. their manager).

What is news to many of these managers is the impact an Agile transition will have on them – and their management style. I like to point out that to them that:

  • Teams and individuals are more productive when they are not interrupted;
  • Team performance improves greatly when people settle their own issues;
  • Changes in the composition of the team affect the team’s productivity.

As such, people manager need to learn to:

  • Transfer the authority and the responsibility to the team members to allow them to do their job properly;
  • Avoid interference and micromanagement;
  • Promote collaboration and teamwork;
  • Support learning without systematically penalizing failures;
  • Establish a culture conducive to Agile projects;
  • Adapt their management style to the context of team.

Overall, they must learn to change their management style from a command-and-control approach to a servant leadership style.

Easier said than done – that’s where the Agile Organizational Coach steps in.

The 5 Dimensions of Leadership in an Agile Context

Following my posts on delivering results in an agile context, the 7 dimensions of an agile project team and their agile work environment, this fifth and final post on Agile Leadership presents the “Leadership” level of the model. I’m hoping to help managers, leaders, and stakeholders better understand which behaviors to modify in order to obtain better performance and improve employee satisfaction within their organization. I came up with five dimensions associated with Leadership in an Agile context.
Picture by pedrosimoes7

Before I begin, I want to make a distinction between management and leadership. Over the years, the terms “leadership” and “management” have often been used as synonyms. To distinguish the two words I would specify that leadership is “transformational” in nature while management is more “transactional”.


Leadership has been described as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task” (wikipedia)

Servant Leadership

Servant-leaders achieve results for their organizations by giving priority attention to the needs of their colleagues and those they serve. Servant-leaders are often seen as humble stewards of their organization’s resources (wikipedia)


Management in all business areas and human organization activity is the act of getting people together to accomplish desired goals and objectives. Management comprises planning, organizing, staffing, leading or directing, and controlling an organization (a group of one or more people or entities) or effort for the purpose of accomplishing a goal (wikipedia)

Goal Setting

Goal-setting ideally involves establishing specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-targeted objectives. Work on the goal-setting theory suggests that it can serve as an effective tool for making progress by ensuring that participants have a clear awareness of what they must do to achieve or help achieve an objective (wikipedia)

A few questions to assess the Goal Setting dimension of the Leadership model:

  • Are the team members objectives aligned with one another?
  • Are the suggestions coming from the retrospection of the team taken into consideration in the objective settings?

Performance Management

Performance management includes activities to ensure that goals are consistently being met in an effective and efficient manner (wikipedia)

A few questions to assess the Performance Management dimension of the Leadership model:

  • Does the leader clearly define the objectives of his people?
  • Does the organization measure its progress toward its goals?
  • Is the performance measured at the team level in addition to the individual level?
  • Does the company evaluate both the individual’s work behaviours and outcomes against the defined objectives?
  • Do the team members receive timely and frequent feedback?


Remuneration is pay or salary, typically a monetary payment for services rendered, as in an employment (wikipedia)

A few questions to assess the Remuneration dimension of the Leadership model:

  • Do managers mostly rely on intrinsic (rather than extrinsic) motivation?
  • Does the remuneration model reflect the individual’s contribution to the team or is it based on seniority?
  • Is the compensation model clearly understood by all team members?
  • Is the leader rewarded for the development of his members?
  • Do team members participate in the definition of the compensation of their colleagues?
  • Is the compensation model strictly based on individual performance?


Coaching refers to the activity of a coach in developing the abilities of coachees. Coaching tends to focus on the achievement by coachees of a goal or specific skill (wikipedia)

A few questions to assess the Coaching dimension of the Leadership model:

  • Does the leader support its members in their skills and competences development?
  • Does the leader take the time to teach his team members on how to increase their skills and better themselves?
  • Is the leader selected by the team members?
  • Is the leader evaluated by his team members?

Change Management

Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state (wikipedia)

A few questions to assess the Change Management dimension of the Leadership model:

  • Does the leader work with the team members to establish a clear change management strategy?
  • Does the leader acknowledge that the pace of change is different for all team members?
  • Does the leader deal constructively for team members’ resistance to change?

Leader’s Qualities

Finally, in order to assess if the leader has the right qualities to be successful in an agile environment, I have selected a handful of qualities the leader should clearly demonstrate.

Does the Leader display the following qualities?

  • Making decision when necessary
  • Enthusiasm / Optimism
  • Humility
  • Respect
  • Trust
  • Integrity
  • Confidence

We need better management – we need agile management

As mentioned in my guest post on Management 3.0, times are changing and many organizations are finding ways to lead people to deliver better results.

Having spent most of my professional career in the software development industry, either as a consultant or as an employee of large corporations, it is obvious that many of my inspirations for leadership came for the technology side of things. I quickly realized two things:

  1. Working with technology opened my perspective to more innovations and allowed me to develop a willingness to continuously improve what was around me – not only the technology but the tools and the processes in order to derive better performance from people and later on to strive for a more balanced work-life,
  2. I noticed that many people in organizations who could change the way people were managed were caught in their old paradigms:
    • Senior managers who had power refused to change and were counting the days until retirements,
    • Middle managers who had an open mind, had no time to implement innovations or had no power to do so,
    • Support departments were more interested in maintaining status quo after years of implementing policies and procedures and weren’t so inclined to look for better methods.

Once in a while, an external consultant would present some promising avenue to help improve performance and morale but their attempt would vanish once they closed the doors behind them.

Then came Agile. Although the Agile Manifesto was published in 2001, I discovered the underlying principles years later and it became obvious to me that what was recommended for software development organizations would certainly work, outside the technology departments. For almost two years, I have been analyzing the principles, reading books, and working with colleagues and clients to derive an improved method of working. From my “Rebel Leadership” concept came the “Agile Leadership” approach.

What is Agile Leadership?

Agile Leadership is the application of the Agile principles (as defined in the Agile Manifesto) to the leadership of software development endeavours.

In addition to encompassing the processes, tools and rules of Agile Scrum, Agile Leadership extrapolates them to change how teams and projects are managed within the context of the work environment and new leadership paradigms to deliver better results.

Agile Leadership Model

Where Agile Scrum mostly focuses on the organization of the project team, the roles and responsibilities of the team members, the artifacts, and the rules under which the project team operates, Agile Leadership includes the work environment as well as the specific leadership abilities expected from the managers and stakeholders.

Agile Leadership is a fundamental paradigm shift with the objective of making the project team successful and the people within the team happier in order to deliver better results. The shift mostly comes from the leadership (aka management style) and the rules used to govern the actions, the behaviours and the outcome of the team.

Getting managers to become more Agile requires changing behaviors and to use a more democratic approach to management. More specifically, Agile Leadership requires to:

  • Transfer certain powers to the team members themselves to let them determine how best to accomplish their tasks;
  • Empower the project team through self-organization and commitment to results;
  • Transfer decision-making to individuals who are closest to the activities;
  • Demonstrate a greater openness to ideas and innovations emerging teams;
  • Clearly define the desired vision and to adapt to the context of each team to ensure alignment with the overall objective of the project and to ensure cohesion between the team members;
  • Provide the necessary support and resources to the project team so they successfully accomplish the expected results;
  • Become a change agent within the organization by accepting and publicly endorsing the idea that the status quo is not acceptable and that the old methods are no longer adapted to the new reality;
  • Systematically involve business people in the definition and execution of solutions;
  • Adapt the style of management so as to use an inclusive and democratic approach.

In addition to bringing new concepts, Agile Leadership also revisits and adds to some of the concepts on which Agile Scrum relies. There is already much documentation (books, blogs, podcast, etc.) on the topic of Agile. In an upcoming blog post, I will add details to the areas of focus listed below and associate the underlying concepts with theories explained at length elsewhere in other areas of expertise such: as organizational behavior, organizational development, management science, and coaching.

Agile Leadership (Agile Management) – part II

Picture provided by kansasphotoLike most modern Homo sapiens, when you hear Agile Leadership or Agile Management, you think of:

  • [if you are outside the business world] A business-person who can use a combination of balance, coordination, speed, reflexes, strength, endurance and stamina to achieve his objectives;
  • [if you are inside the business world but outside the information technology field] A person who has the capability of rapidly and cost efficiently adapting to changes in an attempt to deliver on his objectives;
  • [if you are inside the information technology field] A person who manages a software development team who uses methodologies based on iterative development, where requirements and solutions evolve through collaboration between self-organizing cross-functional teams with the objective of delivering value.

I apologize if you are outside the business world because this is not the perspective I wish to cover. For people in the other two categories, you are partially right.

I attempted to define Agile management and see how I could apply Agile principles to management a while ago and since then, I have been able to piece the puzzle together. Agile Leadership requires less technical knowledge than its cousin but it heavily relies on the same principles.

A high level view of the model

Agile Leadership Model (Summary)

If you have been reading my blog for a while (thank you!) and even if you haven’t, you will realize that I have been covering various parts of this model already:

People: The people dimension covers all aspects of competencies, motivation, culture, collaboration and communications that enable the organization to achieve its business objectives. While every effort is directly or indirectly related to people, this perspective focuses primarily on the ability of individuals to contribute to the achievement of objectives.
[related tags: 360-degree feedbackcoachingcollaborationcommunitydecision makingfeedbackleadershipmanagementorganizational structurepeople management,servant leadership]

Processes: The process dimension aims to define the working methods and approaches to be followed in carrying out tasks in line with the overall objective of delivering business value.
[related tags: agileagile managementscrum]

Tools: The technology dimension covers the various tools and technologies that support the organization in achieving its business objectives.
[related tags: none, I haven’t covered this dimension]

Value: The value dimension covers the business capacity to effectively deliver value within the appropriate time. The delivery of value is the fundamental purpose of the organization.
[related tags: ROI]

As you can see, I have mostly covered the People dimension of the model while I have purposely left the Tools section un-covered. The reason for this is that there are already thousands of web sites on the topic of Agile and technology.

In an upcoming series of blog posts, I will present a more detailed perspective of what Agile Leadership truly means based on our experience. Stay tuned…

What Is Coaching? And Other Relevant Questions

As we offer various services to help organizations transition from a traditional software development approach to a more Agile approach, we are often asked why use coaching? Assuming you are also asked the same question, you may find this short blog post useful to help you properly answer the questions.

What is Coaching?

Coaching is a method of directing, instructing and training a person or group of people, with the aim to achieve some goal or develop specific skills. There are many ways to coach, types of coaching and methods to coaching. Sessions are typically one-on-one either in-person or over the telephone. – via Coaching – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. – via International Coach Federation.

What is Coaching?

What is Coaching?

What is Coaching?

What is a Coachee?

coachee [ˌkəʊtʃˈiː] – n (Business / Industrial Relations & HR Terms) a person who receives training from a coach, esp in business or office practice. – via coachee – definition of coachee by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.

Why use a Coach?

A coach sees the best in you and for you and will help you develop your skills. A coach will support you in your personal and professional growth – and will help you to live the life you truly want. You will get in touch with your values and your vision and help you discover areas and opportunities you didn’t see before. via Why use a coach? – ICF Nordic.

A coach helps his coachee reach his goals faster and more efficiently than he would by himself. The coach helps his coachee define clear, realistic, and time-bound objectives applicable to his and develops a partnership to you achieve the coachee’s goal.

How does coaching work?

Through frequent conversations between the coach and his coachee, the coach offers an external perspective and:

  1. Helps the coachee honestly assess his current situation;
  2. Supports the coachee in clearly defining his goal and raising the expectations;
  3. Helps the coachee properly assess the gap between the current situation and the targeted goal;
  4. Works with the coachee to define an appropriate plan and take action (not only conversations);
  5. Helps the coachee anticipate and deal with the obstacles by himself;
  6. Provides feedback on the progress achieved, continuously assesses the progress and presents opportunities to adapt the plan;
  7. Questions the coachee’s self-assessment, decisions and actions taken to achieve the goal;
  8. Proposes potential alternatives to push the coachee outside his comfort zone.

Why does coaching work?

Coaching is an empirical process (inspect and adapt). The coaching process helps the coachee envisions himself in the future, making it easier to expect and the achieve the set goals. The coach helps the coachee see opportunities that the individual wouldn’t see by himself and pushes the coachee to set goals his comfort zone. As each goal requires an action plan, the coach forces more frequent and more productive sessions during which the progress is evaluated. Overall, coaching is a partnership process between the coachee and his coach.

Why would someone ask for a coach?

Coaching is not an end in itself, it is a mean to achieve a set goal. When there is a true willingness for change, the coachee doesn’t want the status quo and is receptive to being challenged in order to achieve its goal, asking a coach for help will allow the coachee to carry out their goal faster and more efficiently.

Some prerequisite questions?

Before starting a coaching process, there are a few questions the coachee needs to ask himself:

  • What am I really looking for in my professional life?
  • What really attracts me in my professional life?
  • What do I really want to change?
  • What would really spark my passion?
  • What problems would I like to resolve to become happier or more productive?


As the first of a series of posts on the topic of coaching, it is important to set the stage which is what I intended to do. Over the next weeks, I will add material to this topic and hopefully will start a conversation with you.