Coaching Agile Teams – A Book Review
Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition is a practical guide for people with project leadership roles in an agile environment. Since agile teams operate with a different structure, there is a need to help the team develop and deliver their product efficiently and in an effective manner. This book gives project leaders guidance and advice not only in understanding their new role but also in enabling the teams to self-organize and take new responsibilities that previously were handled by project managers.
This first edition book comes in paperback and was published in May 2010 by Addison-Wesley Professional Publishing. It is about 0.7-inch thick with 352 pages. It is one of the Addison-Wesley Signature Series (Cohn Series) of software development books, with the similar front cover theme of photo, font style, and colors. ISBN-10: 0321637704; ISBN-13: 978-0321637703
Coaching Agile Teams is for traditionally-trained project managers transitioning to lead agile teams. It is also for those who have been introduced already to agile methods such as ScrumMasters or Extreme Programming coach who are learning to be more knowledgeable and flexible in handling teams operating in other agile environments. This companion guide is also for any member of the team such as developers, testers, or business analysts who need to understand the new roles and relationships existing in a more dynamic working environment.
What Customers Say
Maurice Hagar (Amazon) described it as a very helpful resource that made fresh and relevant old leadership principles like the Shu-Ha-Ri stages of proficiency. This book can help teams get back in track and avoid bending the rules before mastering them.
For Garret (Goodreads), it is an insightful book that helped him understand better as a ScrumMaster the agile vision. It helps him and his team work on relationship and attitude.
Mike Cohn (B&N) differentiated the book from others that would give instructions to specific situations. Instead, this companion guide will give the readers many new tools and ways to approach whatever situation that may come their way.
Content, Approach, Style
Coaching Agile Teams contains 13 chapters divided in three parts. Chapters 1 to 4 consist the first part which is titled It Starts With You. It has discussions about the agile coaching context, expecting high performance, mastering one’s self, and letting one’s coaching style change. The second part which runs through Chapter 5 to 10 is about helping the team get more for themselves by understanding the different roles of a coach as a mentor, teacher, conflict navigator and such. The third part spans Chapter 11 to 13 and is about getting more for yourself as an agile coach.
The author designed each chapter of the book to stand alone. Readers can look at the table of contents and directly turn to the topic. It also can be read from cover to cover but as a companion guide, it is really up to the readers to use it conventionally or randomly. Because of each chapter’s independence, it also has additional resources that it points the readers to for related topics. Each chapter also has a refresher or summary section and suggested “things to try” to help apply the ideas into action.
Why Buy the Book
Coaching Agile Teams is a book about the soft skills of project management in an agile environment. Some say soft skills are harder to learn, but as Susanne Madsen once explained, it could be that these are harder to teach, and therefore, learn. This is therefore a valuable resource that helps teams achieve more than they hope to on their own. Moreover, it also helps project leaders learn more of their multiple coaching roles and opportunities.
Books that Complement
Agile Project Management for Dummies gives a good introduction about the agile framework and approaches. Mark Layton’s text can help readers have basic knowledge to appreciate better how teams should be coached in an agile environment.
Kenneth Rubin’s Essential Scrum is a comprehensive reference about the Scrum framework. ScrumMasters will now be able to work well within the framework with high-performance teams.
Lyssa Adkins is a veteran project manager and program manager of more than 15 years, and also held the position of PMO Director. She has a BS Management Information Systems degree from George Mason University and received her Six Sigma Green Belt from Villanova University. She is PMP-certified and also a Certified Scrum Coach, Certified Scrum Trainer, and an Organization and Relationship Systems Certified Coach. She co-founded and is the Co-President with Michael Spayd of Agile Coaching Institute, whose mission is to further the growth and development of agile coaches as agents of transformation.