Why do I think team coaching is a bad idea? Don’t get me wrong, I believe team coaching can have a great amount of added value. It’s just that I often find that teams receive coaching while they should not even be a team. The Agile way of working is all about being in control in a complex environment. We get control by learning from feedback on the value delivered as quickly as possible. So we deliver Done Increments regularly in short iterations.
“Does a Done Increment always deliver customer value?”
I’d like to answer that question through a metaphor. The hamburger.
Imagine: you order a Hamburger at a local hamburger joint. They tell you preparing that hamburger will take 60 minutes. (they make everything from scratch, fresh!) Recently, the kitchen made a transition to Agile delivery, so they will deliver your order in 10-minute increments. Interesting! The delivery can be in two possible ways: first the bottom bun, then the burger, then the pickles, etc. Building your Burger layer for layer. Or, you get a small bite after the first 10 minutes, but with all the ingredients in it, and then a second etc. In this second scenario, you can immediately tell the clerk that you dislike pickles. The next delivery they can leave those out. In the first scenario a result is delivered every iteration. But does a single bottom bun deliver customer value? I’d prefer a full, juicy, crispy, tasty bite. Without pickles. Please 😉
When we return from the metaphor (well-fed, hopefully) and look at the way most businesses are organized, we will discover business units similar to the components of the hamburger. When such a business unit ‘implements Agile’, they will start creating Agile Teams within those units (components). Those teams need lots of help to become truly agile, so Scrum Masters & Agile Coaches are hired to coach those teams. And so we end up passionately coaching team bottom bun.
So before you start coaching a team, please be aware of the full hamburger and the components needed to deliver value. So looking beyond the team you’ve been asked to coach, which other ingredients are needed to deliver customer value? It’s truly rare to start in a perfect Agile situation, and that is OK. But never forget that it’s your duty as Agile Coach or Scrum Master to help the organization to improve their way to true agility, to start delivering customer value with each iteration. To get the whole hamburger front and center and make it better with each delivery.
The hamburger is a playful, lightweight metaphor to start discussing true agility in your organization, to keep in mind what is really important: delivering customer value and being in control by inviting feedback and learning from it. Good luck and enjoy your burger!
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Author and Host: Guido Boskaljon