What can the Agile approach teach us about sustaining momentum in team coaching engagements? How do leaders and organizations need to evolve in order to enable a shift to agile teaming? Tune in to this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone podcast with Host Dr. Krister Lowe and guests Art Pittman and Bob Costello to learn the answers to these and other intriguing questions.

Art Pittman is a Leadership Coach with the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School, an Agile Team Coach with the Eliassen Group and an Adjunct Staff at the Center for Creative Leadership. Bob Costello is a Senior Agile Coach with the Eliassen Group-an IT Staffing, Recruiting and Consulting Company. In the episode, Art and Bob share their insights about coaching leaders, teams and organizations to become more agile. Some themes covered include:
-Trends in agile
-The mainstreaming of agile
-The role of leaders in agile change
-The story of the Chicken and the Pig
-Shifting to team-based organizational designs in new companies vs. large established ones
-Factors that impact momentum in team coaching
-Complex adaptive systems and simple rules
-The role of norms in teams
-Team maturity and indicators of development
-Mindset in teams
-Vulnerability and psychological safety
-And more!

This is a rich episode brimming over with practical insights, tips and resources that all team coaches will surely not want to miss! Get in The Team Coaching Zone Today and start taking your team coaching practice to the next level!

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Resources Mentioned

  1. TriAgile 2017 Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina: http://triagile.com/
  2. Bersion by Deloitte Report: 2017 Predictions: Everything is Digital
  3. Harvard Business Review: Beyond the Holacracy Hype
  4. Adkins, L. (2010). Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for SCRUM Masters, Agile Coaches and Project Managers in Transition.
  5. Brene Brown: TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability

Listen to the Episode:








Part 1: Getting to Know the Team Coaches: Art Pitman & Bob Costello

  • Art Pitman
    • Executive Coach, Professional Facilitator and Trainer in Agile Leadership, Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience
    • Eliassen Group, University of North Carolina, Center for Creative Leadership
  • Bob Costello:
    • Former guest on the TCZ podcast Episode #053
    • Team Coach and Leadership Coach at the Eliassen Group
    • Has supervised coaches
    • Rich background in software and technology with NEXT, IBM, and other distinguished firms
  • Trends in Agile and Teaming
    • Bersin by Deloitte 2017 Predictions: Everything is Digital
    • Trend toward self-organizing teams that have decision-making authority…they are closer to the actual work
    • Jack Welch at GE recently speaking about companies needing to be fast – not just at team level but at organization level
    • New consulting companies emerging that are focusing on agile at scale; how to develop an agile organization
    • Dramatic shift underway in organizational design
    • Not such much “fail fast as learn fast”
    • Agile is all about creating a “learning organization”
    • Agile at its heart is about learning
    • Agile was born in technology and software development
    • Dirty secret about technology is that it is all about people…computers just take orders
    • Agile team coaching is becoming more professionalized (e.g. Lyssa Adkins, Agile Coaching Institute)
    • Some confusion about what an agile coach is and does
    • Agile coaches vs. SCRUM masters: overlap
    • The function of coaching in teams: a function that can be taken up by a variety of roles and/or embodied in a number of people
    • Article on “Shared Leadership in Teams: Investigation and Antecedent Conditions of Performance” – leader as team coach is less effective than having shared leadership in the team; team leader to do all the things that the team can’t do for themselves
    • Team taking up accountability when they are ready to coach themselves
    • Role of team maturity: leader has to know when to intervene and coach them back to performing when they slip back into forming or storming
    • Self-organizing teams need leaders around them to support with coaching
    • Three legged stool model: team level, upper management level, magic middle level
    • Role of leadership coaching in change management around agile engagements
    • Agile as an organizational development process
    • SCRUM can help all human endeavors…starting SCRUM is like having your mother-in-law come to live with you…she will start pointing out everything you are doing wrong
  • Story of the Chicken and the Pigs
    • Cartoon
    • Chicken and Pig are talking
    • Chicken asks the Pig to start a restaurant together called “Ham and Eggs”
    • Pig says no because the Chicken doesn’t have to fully commit like the Pig
    • Leaders need to become pigs to really get committed and roll up their sleeves to enable the organizational development around agile
  • Jim Collins idea about “having the right people on the bus”
  • Applying Holacracy may look different for new startups vs. big established companies – is it really worth the pain to try to transform a big established company to agile or Holacracy at scale
  • HBR Article: “Beyond the Holacracy Hype” – continuum of adaptability and reliability
  • Just moving to a self-organizing team-based structure is a huge step developmentally
  • Organization change vs. individual change: organizations are a collection of individuals…that is where the change really occurs

Part 2 – Momentum in Team Coaching

  • Role of structure in team coaching (tightly vs. loosely designed structures)
  • Task performing teams vs. learning teams
  • Agile is a mindset based on the Agile Manifesto agilemanifesto.org
  • SCRUM is a specific agile approach with 4 increments or ceremonies: Sprint Planning, Daily Stand-ups, Sprint Review, Retrospective – learning is built into the process
  • SCRUM is a framework
  • Complex adaptive systems – independent agents who interact; simple rules to organize around; SCRUM provides simples rules in the ceremonies
  • Baseline of what does it mean to be a team (e.g. Hackman and Wageman’s 6 conditions of high performing teams)
  • Momentum is often tied to not having a goal that is tied to the larger system or is getting feedback from the system that is disabling or distracting
  • Boyatzis – sustainable change; tipping points; tapping back into the purpose and dreaming and the importance of feedback
  • Purpose, clarity round goals, structure for teaming (e.g. SCRUM), learning, coaching, momentum/tempo
  • SCRUM builds lots of moments into the structure for coaching
  • Bob story about norms in a team that developed as part of their interactions; a sign of a tipping point that has emerged; they didn’t write them down but they just became part of “how we do things”
  • Hackman’s work on norms
  • Two kinds of “Whys”: Greater purpose why and why are we a team
  • Learning at the heart of many team coaching models (e.g. Systemic Team Coaching, Hackman and Wageman’s model of high performing teams, etc…)
  • Shift in performance management from separating performance from learning
  • Agile and team coaching as a learning process
  • Only source of competitive advantage that companies really have is their ability to learn
  • The whole point of a cross-functional team is learning
  • Hit by the Bus theory – if a team member is a hit by a bus, can we pick up the work? Can we learn and let go of having to be expert
  • Learning is not optional in SCRUM: truth telling coaching vs. feel good coaching
  • Lyssa Adkins: reflecting back to the team what you are seeing; sometimes they don’t like it but it is learning and you have to do it as a coach
  • Role of “Mindset” – not just applying techniques, processes and tools; most people haven’t had the experience of being on a real team – they have been in a groups; doing exercises to help people experience being part of a team (e.g. sitting and looking at each other in pairs for one minute); embedding mindset work throughout the coaching
  • What Google Learned about High Performing Teams: Project Aristotle – psychological safety, social intelligence, voice
  • Team Emotional Intelligence (Druskat and Wolff)
  • Brene Brown TED talk on vulnerability
  • Micro-interactions: daily interactions that happen between people and leaders; they are things that build trust in teams; helping team members understand the importance of these interactions
  • Momentum is about structure, norms, context we create, safety – creating conditions like a gardener to help the team grow
  • The coaching stance: the team knows that you are there for them
  • True leadership is about the leader being vulnerable first
  • Stages of team maturity and how leaders can coach teams at different stages of maturity:
    • There are certain behaviors that teams will exhibit at different stages of development (e.g. showing up late for meetings, not planning for sprints well, not sharing, challenging agile principles, etc…)
    • As team gets more mature and reflects more they may be able to identify where they are in Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing
    • Johari window – can’t see what you can’t see
    • Bob’s paper on team maturity and coaching

Part 3: Closing / Resources / Words of Wisdom

  • Bob’s paper on Team Maturity and Coaching
  • TriAgile 2017 Conference, Raleigh, North Carolina: http://triagile.com/: 1 day workshop on Bob’s paper and Art’s work at CCL – how to lead in the agile space (March 29 in Raleigh North Carolina, NC State University)
  • TheCoachJournal.org – Bob’s paper on coaching agile teams forthcoming
  • Parting Words:
    • Art: Team coaching is about the learning culture; how effective managers can help or hurt the teams; importance of soft skills; helping organizations through the middle layer; SCRUM is a great framework and Agile is a mindset
    • Bob: Agile and SCRUM are great frameworks however just moving to self-organizing teams is big and leaders are critical in the process; it’s a complete change in how you work and how leaders lead; Agile is great for having a conversation but the conversation is about organizational change

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