Monday, August 17, 2015

An Agile Coach and a supervisor walked into #Agile2015...

Did you hear the one about the Agile Coach and Sr. Tech Manager who walked into an Agile Conference? I didn't know where I fit in!

For about a year and a half I have been an Agile Coach. Before that I was essentially the Agile Coach for a subset of the organization, and a Scrum Master before that. And before I was a Scrum Master, I was a Java developer. I've never worn a "manager" hat before.

Just prior to #Agile2015, I found myself moving my family over a thousand miles away from our home of 7 years to take a position as a Sr. Tech Manager. Anyone who knows me knows that being an Agile Coach was perfect for me because that's just what I do naturally, so those behaviors - that mindset - are not going away. So how does one be both an Agile Coach and a manager?

I guess we'll find out!

I took advantage of the largest annual Agile conference to explore the space and get some advice from people who are far more expert than myself. I attended some fantastic sessions, including:

I attended several other sessions, but these in particular stood out to me. I think Lyssa's was recorded, and I certainly recommend watching it once it is posted online.

I'm still trying to wrap my head around everything that I learned, but here are some common themes that I've managed to identify so far:
  1. A good manager and a good Agile Coach should look an awful lot alike
  2. Control is an illusion; trust and collaboration get results
  3. My number one job as a manager is to work on the environment that my people work in - given the right environment, the people will thrive and value will get delivered
  4. Decentralizing control (decisions) is faster and tends to drive better results...
  5. ... as long as you also decentralize the information necessary to make the best decisions
  6. It is not enough for a person or team to be robust/resilient - we must set our sights on antifragility
  7. There is no silver bullet - managers, too, must be committed to continuous improvement

I will be conducting experiments based on what I've learned and sharing the results - as much as I'm able - as they come to fruition. I am under no delusion that all (or any) of my experiments will be eagerly accepted or wildly successful, but I am certain that I will learn from each of them and come out a better manager and coach.

So tell me, what advice do you have for me as I start this journey? Or, if you also attended #Agile2015, what learnings would you like to share? I'm eager to learn as much as I can from as many of you as I can!

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