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Justin L Beall
Justin L Beall

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DEV3L on Coaching Agile Teams

The term Agile Coach has been used to describe a myriad of roles within the Software Development space - anywhere from a Scrum Master, Project Manager, to an agile curious Technical Lead. Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition by Lyssa Adkins is the definitive book on what truly makes an Agile Coach.

Coaching a full-time job for agile coach, and part-time job for all leaders

Constantly need to reawaken and refocus

Take it to the team

Ch1 - Will I Be A Good Coach

Agile is sufficient, coaching deepens it

Agile exposes the dirt - sunlight is the best disinfectant

40% Doing, 60% Being - a agile coach models agile all the time!

Time and budget remain constant, only scope is flexible

Native Wiring:

  • Read room
  • Care for people over products
  • Cultivate curiosity
  • People basically good
  • Act in the moment
  • Thirst for learning
  • Excellence worth pursuing
  • Intolerance for "way we do it here"
  • Messiness is expected
  • Risk being wrong

Find your voice

Journey to Coach

Ch2 - Expect High Performance

Quest for high performance moves away from the hamster wheel - autonomy, mastery, purpose #drive

High performance is a journey towards something better - next right thing

Lead by believing

High Performance Tree, roots as values - team kick off technique

Ch3 - Master Yourself

Coaching starts with you, but it's not about you

When you coach, bring yourself

Start with self, identify growing edge

Identify Conflict Resolution Style

Use Nonviolent Communication - for leaders there is no such thing as a trivial comment

Practice your Servant Leadership

Grow your Emotional Intelligence

Master yourself in the moment

Master higher levels of listening

Ch4 - Let Your Style Change


The student is the teacher, the teacher is the student

Agile Coach Styles:

  • Teaching
  • Coaching
  • Advising

Ch5 - Coach as Coach-Mentor


  • Astonishing results
  • Healthier growing teams
  • Help individuals next step

Coach team at beginning and end, then individuals in the middle

Be present, coach out loud as

Tone: loving, compassionate, uncompromising

Meet them half step ahead of where they are - one on one agile coaching

Guarantee safety - Psychological Safety as a Prerequisite #modernagile

Open with observation or invitation

Ch6 - Coach as Facilitator

Coach creates container, team creates content

Their meeting, not mine - focus, wander, attention

Self-sufficiency is the goal

Help them see

Agile Ceremonies

Stand up - commitment and coordination

Sprint planning - know work, fresh start, shared goals, focus

Sprint review - true up, show and tell, feedback, ask for help

Retrospective - inspect and adapt, how, do better

Ch7 - Coach as Teacher

Learn about process, team, and work - GO

Understand teams current agile aptitude, then reinforced core competencies

Break ice for the team, but don't spend all day - more success task orienting team over relationships

Create a Shared Vision that engages on multiple levels - individual, team, company

Create team norms, aka Working Agreements - values, social, logistics, and conflict resolution

Work ahead - envision, backlog, get going

Constantly teach agile roles - PO, Manager, Coach

Ch8 - Coach as Problem Solver

Do not inflict help on team - let them learn to solve own problems - empower

Doing something for someone else, is doing something too someone else

It's the team's commitment - take the problem to the team

Don't go looking for problems, address them as they arise


  • problem
  • pause
  • take to team
  • allow team to act, or not

Problem Levels:

  • process
  • performance
  • team dynamics

Run health checks - Agile Team Dynamics

When problems arise, get some space - sleep on it - reaffirm agile process that can solve

Agile Manifesto and Principles are the source

Reveal the system to itself #orsc

System is organic, not mechanistic

Ch9 - Coach as Conflict Navigator

Escalation Path Conflict Model

  • hear complaints
  • feel energy
  • observe language

Teams often can self navigate up to level three - self organization

Response modes:

  • analyze
  • structures
  • reveal

Don't carry complaints for team, have individuals address other party directly when possible

Intervention Steps:

  • have you shared with party?
    • dry run?
  • would it help if I go with you?
    • when/where
    • dry run?
  • may I tell party on your behalf?

No anonymous complaints

Boost positivity to negativity ratio - at least three good to bad

Ch10 - Coach as Collaboration Conductor

Cooperation or Collaboration

  • Collaboration: greater sum parts
    • emergence
  • Cooperation: sum parts
    • smooth transitions

Collaboration built upon cooperation

Collaboration Behaviors:

  • speak unspeakable
  • build up
  • here all voices
  • nurture collaboration intimacy
  • faith in emergence
  • get unstuck
  • play seriously together

Human beings first, then work mates

Make sure all voices heard

When muscle is built, go conductorless

Ch11 - Agile Coach Failure, Recovery, and Success Modes

Failure Modes:

  • spy
  • seagull
  • opinionator
  • admin
  • hub
  • butterfly
  • expert
  • nag

Recover - replace fear with trust

Success Modes:

  • magician
  • child
  • ear
  • heckler
  • wise fool
  • creeping vine
  • dreamer
  • megaphone

Practice, awareness, next right thing

Ch12 - When Will I Get There

No finish line, keep learning and integrating skills


  • instilled agile practices
  • started up agile team
  • coach 1x1
  • coached team
  • coach po
  • coached outsiders
  • coach change
  • instigated paths to performance
  • accepted their ideas
  • mastered yourself
  • model agile values and principles
  • navigated conflict
  • self-path of growth
  • started giving back

Measure self as leader, not manager

Only you know when you have arrived

Reference Journal Events: Start, Finish

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