January 24, 2022

Is there an Agile Coaches Playbook?

I was once challenged on LinkedIn with a question about Agile Playbooks and if I had one that I used.

My response was that I don’t have just one Playbook but multiple playbooks.  The AgileManifesto.org, the Scrum Guide, Agile Estimating and Planning by Mike Cohn, The Art of Agile Development by James Shore, Lean Software Development by the Poppendiesk’s, and more.  What you won’t find is Dave Updike’s Agile Coaching for Software Development Playbook.  When I coach Agile Teams and Organizations I take many many things into account and these can’t really be condensed into a book.  I take 25 years of Software Development experiences into account from coding to architecture to management and Coaching teams since 2005 in large and small organizations.  I take into account active Agile Blogs of people I trust.  I combine those with the different personalities involved and the current organizational culture, etc.  How would you put all that into a Playbook?  I really don’t think you can.

If Agile Coaching were like Sports Coaching I would tell the teams what to do, design the plays for them and store those plays in my Playbook. I would stand on the sideline and yell “Why did you do that? That’s not what I told you to do.”.  Additionally a Sports Coach leads the team forever (well, at least until they make a mistake).  This not like Agile Coaching.  Agile Coaching is about providing training, guidance, mentoring, explaining and influencing, letting a team experience some mistakes, learn how to self-recognize them and adapt solutions to them, always with an eye on a successful endgame.  After I am satisfied they understand Agile Software Development and they know how to what I call “Think in Agile” (Thank you @BruceEckel) it’s time for me to move on.

So in a nutshell there is no static Agile Coaching Playbook.  It’s kind of an oxymoron.