DZone and Pragmatic Bookshelf have partnered to bring you this exclusive chapter from 'Agile Coaching' by Rachel Davies and Liz Sedley. This excerpt was extracted from Agile Coaching, published in August 2009 by Pragmatic Bookshelf. It is being reproduced here by permission from Pragmatic Bookshelf. For more information or to purchase a paperback or PDF copy, visit the Agile Coaching homepage.
Sometimes you’ll be introducing new Agile practices; other times you’ll be helping a team fine-tune its process. Either way, you need to lead the team to make changes. It’s not as simple as telling people what they need to do. People need to understand what’s driving a change before they’ll throw energy into it.
So, how can you open their eyes to new possibilities? Start slow; give them some time to think about change before pressing them into action. Look for opportunities for them to learn about Agile. Then engage them in designing change by asking questions and building on their ideas.
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Start advocating Agile techniques to the team, and you’ll soon find that people raise objections. Even when there’s a compelling reason to change, it’s natural to be concerned about the risks. Assure them that
it’s safe to become more Agile. Tell them stories about other Agile teams you have worked with to give them an appreciation of what’s possible.
Show your confidence in the ability of the team to change. Your belief in their success can give them courage to take the first step. Talk about “When we. . . ” rather than “If we. . . ,” and then make sure they know you’re there to provide support and help them keep going. Take care not to push a team into making changes too quickly. Allow time for new ideas to soak in. The team needs time to talk through a change before starting to implement it. This gives them a chance to think through the implications and to understand how they can adjust
what they do now.