Monday, September 25, 2017

Sharpening the Saw at the Agile Coaches Symposium

Billie Schuttpelz and I at the Agile Coaches Symposium
One of the seven habits of highly successful people is called “Sharpening the Saw.”  It is taking time off for self-care and personal development.  I took time off from the blog and spent some time at the Uptake offices for the Agile Coaches Symposium in Chicago.  It was a great time and a valuable learning experience.

Working as a scrum master and agile coach is often a lonely duty.  You are spreading the word and sharing information with a skeptical audience.  Business and cultural forces often impede the agile maturity of the organization.  As a coach, you are spending your time serving as an example to others.  It is why it was nice to spend time with others in this profession and exchange information.

A few themes cropped up during the conference.  First, over 80% of the people at the conference said that had suffered from Impostor Syndrome.  It surprised me because when I have moments of doubt and disappointment, I chalked it up to something else. It is clear that those moments of darkness are Imposter Syndrome rearing its ugly head.  We did not have any easy answers to these issues, but it was still helpful to discuss them out in the open with others.

Next, there is a trend in the business world for Project Managers and other waterfall types of people to falsely brand themselves as agile coaches.  These falsely branded coaches create plenty of situations where people without experience or the personal qualities of coach try to bring agile to organizations.  The aftermath is typically a poorly applied implementation, and the agile movement undermined.  Collectively, we felt that some level of exposure and experience with agile was necessary to help coach others.  The consensus of the group was that a good coach, “Wares the shoes and can talk about the walk.”  So be on the lookout for agile coaches who cannot find comfortable shoes to wander around the office.

There were plenty of other discussions.  I even had a chance to talk about how my notion of story points have changed during my career.  The best part is spending time with other agile professionals and learning from them. If that is not sharpening the saw, I do not know what is.

Until next time.