Exploring Power of Coaching Conversations

May 5, 2016  Saket Bansal

Many time Coffee breaks conversations generate more insightful thoughts than classroom discussion. In my last Agile training in Bangalore, we had a conversation around coaching conversation, and I realized how much many undermine the power of coaching conversation. In this blog I am sharing two possible conversations between coach and coachee, one is “Helpful” and another is “Powerful”.

One of the best ways to distinguish coaching conversation with typical conversation is by comparing them. Let’s take a story of Scrum Master named David, he wants to ensure team’s adherence to 15 minutes time box of the daily scrum. He tried many things in last two months but could not find a way; he decided to discuss this issue with Agile Coach Raj.

Example of a Short, “Helpful” Conversation

David : Raj, can I talk to you? I have been trying to make my scrum team adhere to daily scrum time box, but somehow I am unable to do that in last one two month. What do you think can resolve this?

Raj : I know, most of the scrum team struggle with this problem. It’s hard for all of them when they do not understand scrum, did you informed your team about the agenda of daily scrum meeting?

David : Yes I did and in fact we sent the complete team to 2 days of Scrum training. It makes me feel strange that even when everyone know that they need to stick to 3 questions to make this meeting work, but it is not happening… What do I do?

Raj : These scrum trainings alone does not help, we need to work to teach Scrum on a daily basis. Will you follow if I give you some advice?

David : Yes, I will

Raj : Do these things in sequence

  • Start the daily scrum by reiterating the goal of daily scrum meeting and three questions.
  • If someone goes beyond three question stop the person at that moment.
  • No matter what, finish the meeting in 15 minutes even if people have not finished talking about what they are doing.

David : Ok, I will follow this. Thank you.

Raj : Your welcome, I have been helping agile teams for five years, I know what works and what does not.

Example of a Short, “Powerful “Coaching Conversation

David : Raj, can I talk to you? I have been trying to make my scrum team adhere to daily scrum time box, but somehow I am unable to do that in last one two month. What do you think can resolve this?

Raj : What are your insights about this?

David : My team discusses many issues in daily scrum which goes beyond three questions, and most of these issues are relevant, but we end up spending team time in this activity, and some of the participants end up wasting their time

Raj : How would be the successful daily scrum looks like?

David : Well, We would get everything done in fifteen minutes and if something needs more discussions we do meet after the daily scrum.

Raj : How realistic is to have such daily scrum in your team?

David : It’s very much realistic. But I am unable to make it.

Raj : What do we need to do to make this work?

David : I think, we need to make ground rules for flagging issues during the daily scrum rather than discussing them.

Raj : This looks a good idea, did you tried it before?

David : Yes , I tried this, but it did not work.

Raj : What are your insights on this from last experience?

David : I made rules and enforce them for a while but gradually it fades out, and we move to the old style.

Raj : How can we avoid this?

David : No idea, do you have some suggestion.

Raj : Think of some other area in your team where you do not find challenge in following ground rules?

David : Task Board update, we all do it, the complete team keeps it updated

Raj : Was it always like that?

David : No it was messy before, but since the team decided to follow it and we are following it.

Raj : How can we replicate it here?

David : By team making the ground rule on their own. I got an idea, I think I need to make the team think about making daily scrum better.

Raj : That looks a very good idea , what action would you do to make it?

David : I will propose “Making daily scrum in 15 minutes “ as an agenda item for the upcoming retrospective meeting.

Raj : This looks great to me. You know solutions more than I do.

David : Thank you for helping me in generating insight on my dilemma.

Raj : Your welcome, and do share your insights during next week.

David : Sure.

“One cannot teach a man anything. One can only enable him to learn from within himself”

-Galileo Galilei

What do you think about these two conversations? How they differ from each other? And which one will produce long lasting impact on team productivity?

Article Summary
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Exploring Power of Coaching Conversations

Advance Scrum master online course

IT Experience and Achievements: He is a Software Product Development and Management professional with an experience of 15 years to back with. With Strong IT base, Saket has developed various online portals including client server using.Net, ASP.net, C#, Java, Oracle, PowerBuilder, Google Web Toolkit, cloud and OOP concepts. He specializes in system architecture, design patterns, and database design. Certifications: Project Management Professional (PMP)® certified, PMI USA PMI-ACP® certified, PMI® USA CSM, Certified Scrum Master from Scrum Alliance CSP , Certified Scrum Professional from Scrum Alliance SPC , Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe) Program Consultant from Scale Academy ITIL V3, EXIN
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