ScrumMasters, managers, team/delivery leads,
if your team is not as solid, as Agile, or as much a team as they could be,
this experiential training is for you
Grow a Solid Agile Team: Practical Skills for Cultivating Excellence
If you’ve read any of the popular Scrum/Agile books, you’d have seen an idealized picture of a team. Between the delivery side, the product owner, and the leader or ScrumMaster, these folks self-organize and collaborate to create an endless stream of whiz-bang valuable product. It’s a beautiful, compelling picture... and not an entirely realistic one.
Agile teams: where theory collides with the Real World
Agile is predicated on empowered, collaborative teams. Real-world Agile teams, however, experience various gnarly situations:
- The members have a manager (or more than one), and maybe also a ScrumMaster, and maybe also a project manager. Who owns which decisions and activities?
- They didn’t get to pick their colleagues, and even their manager didn’t have a complete say in their selection. Why assume that they would want to be mutually accountable?
- Team members want more autonomy and decision-making power than their organization (which probably isn’t designed for agility) will allow.
- Their self-organization is rather basic, and most of their retrospectives result in minor changes, making the whole ‘team power’ thing seem a bit academic.
- Their managers won’t admit it to anyone, but their trust in individual members doesn’t always extend to trusting the team as a unit.
These challenges are common, and usually result in mediocrity. But you can turn the situation around. And if results matter, you have to turn it around. That makes you a leader.
This workshop is limited to 20 participants in order to keep this a high-touch experience for you.
“Gil guided the group through two valuable days of discussion and reflection on the topics of leadership, communication, team performance and continuous engagement — all crucial ingredients in a high performance environment. The thought-provoking discussions were punctuated by concept-reinforcement exercises designed for universal participation. Throughout it all, Gil actively sought feedback so that he could share his wisdom in a targeted way. I left the workshop with both a much better defined framework of what soft skills are needed to grow my team, and techniques to improve those skills. I recommend Gil’s workshops to anyone involved in leading technical teams.”
Software Development Project Manager, Vancouver, Canada
Impressive and sustained results only flow from solid Agile teams
You know your team is solid when you can safely go on vacation and expect that in your absence, they’ll perform at least as well as when you’re present. They will continue to produce great value in collaboration with their customer, and adjust to reasonable changes in expectations. (Rest assured, you are still needed past your vacation — solid teams still have good use for servant leaders!)
Join me and a small group of committed leaders (no more than 20). You’ll come away from these two packed and engaging days with real answers to your real world problems. Expect us to go light on theory and heavy on practice and pragmatism.
My promises to you:
- Support your Agile team all the way from Forming to Performing (did you know that every stage requires different actions and strategies from you?)
- Build up your confidence and skills as a servant leader (all the more so if your organization doesn’t entirely understand servant leadership)
- Put team autonomy, empowerment, and self-organization in your context, and specifically who makes which decisions when
- Develop ways to share your expectations, needs, and experience without being seen as interfering or micromanaging
- Get through to even the most resistant people without being “touchy-feely”
- Discover how to coach both individuals and teams, and practice that in a safe environment
- Lead useful, collaborative meetings (even if you can’t be a neutral facilitator)
“Going to this workshop will forever change the way I work with the team.”
CTO at Function Point Software
The experience you can expect
We’ll work experientially: there will be no slides, thick shelfware, or fancy models with mnemonics. Most sessions will involve some teaching, a lot of group discussion, and practice in pairs or triplets. You’ll practice soft skills in a safe environment, with me and with your peers, so you can use what you learn back in the office. Your take-home workshop binder contains 30 pages of checklists, self-assessment tools, summaries, and supplementary reading.
This workshop attracts people with a lot of commonality. You’ll network with peers in similar situations: learn from them, bounce ideas around, collaborate with them, and stay in touch with them for extra support.
“Gil demonstrated a real talent in understanding people, their motivation and needs, giving valuable feedback and recommendations.”
Shirit Shachak Sibony
QA Manager, Oracle Israel
Not your standard-issue communication skills, facilitation, or coaching course
To get the results you want, you’ll need to communicate well, coach folks, and facilitate conversations, among other things. While you can learn these skills in targeted courses elsewhere, they will not cater to your particular needs as a manager, leader, or ScrumMaster to teams that develop technology, and specifically Agile teams.
Moreover, many of those courses presume that you want to become a facilitator, or an Agile coach, or something else. I’m assuming the opposite; I’m assuming that you want to continue managing or leading practitioners, improve on the necessary skills, and grow in your role and later ones.
Lastly, while facilitation and coaching courses impart valuable skills, they make another important assumption: to be a great team facilitator or coach, you must be neutral. But you and I know that as their manager, or staff ScrumMaster, complete neutrality is impossible. (Even in my frequent capacity as an external Agile team coach, with no skin in the product game, I cannot assume complete neutrality.)
“The majority of the conversation concentrated on practical aspects of working in and with Agile teams. There are so many takeaways — stories, ideas and practical information that you are likely to discover new gems of valuable information even after listening many times over. This important resource is essential listening for any organisation looking to embark on an Agile journey, as well as for team members and Agile Coaches who want to learn how to be better at their job.”
Agile Coach at Solnet Solutions, Brisbane, Australia
This will directly improve value delivery and productivity
Think about it. What greater value will your team deliver, and how much more productive will they be, if you make just one of the following a reality:
- Getting the team’s resident cowboy to share responsibility with the rest of the team
- Inspiring the team to actively curb technical debt and stop creating instant legacy code
- Increasing solution quality and simplicity through greater team member collaboration
- Keeping one smart team member from jumping ship
- Increasing the team’s ability to make certain decisions without having to run everything by you
These improvements are hard to quantify, but you’ll know them when you see them. If you want to use hard numbers, consider this. By improving team communication, collaboration, and alignment enough to avoid just one weekly 30-minute meeting, you’ll save at least £10,000 per year in labor cost alone.
“This is a class that I’ve not attended before, ever: a workshop for Agile leadership. We talked about confronting fears, having crucial conversations, what the Agile leader brings to the team, how you pace conversations. It was a great learning experience for me and I’m definitely more open to now try these with my teams.”
Manages three development teams at a Fortune 500 company
We’ll cover several broad topics, each of them just enough for you to effectively grow a solid Agile team
Our curriculum/agenda includes the following topics (with the expectation of some on-the-spot customization, depending on who comes!)
1. Your mind-set, role, and responsibilities
Agile favors the servant leadership model; a great and elusive ideal, it means different things for managers, team leaders, project managers, and ScrumMasters. Clarity around this is also vitally important to their teams, especially those who are accountable to two or more of these authority figures! We’ll discuss both the ideal and the reality in the attendees’ context, and identify the qualities and actions that would make the most difference to their teams. Participants will increase their awareness of two key responsibilities of effective leadership: enabling motivation and supporting people through the emotional response to change.
2. Supporting the team’s successful evolution
Teams are clearly not an Agile invention, but Agile teams are like “regular” teams on steroids. Investing in an Agile team is like buying a high-risk stock: when they succeed, the return on investment is huge; if they don’t (or until they do), the return can be quite bad. According to the Tuckman model of group evolution, every team has to proceed through forming, storming, and norming on the way to the stage that makes it all worthwhile, performing. However, too many Agile teams never get past storming. To make matters worse, some teams may appear to have normed, but they merely put on a happy face, stifle all conflict and differences, and defer to their product owner and managers.
We’ll analyze the fundamental differences between great, good, and struggling Agile teams. Then, we’ll walk through what it takes for a team to graduate from one stage to the next, what the risks are, and how, as leaders, the participants can help their team along the way to greatness. We’ll discuss their most likely impediments to teamwork and identify possible responses.
3. Powerful communication
“We need to communicate better” and “communication breakdowns” are popular observations in retrospectives and post-mortems. However, micromanagement, nagging, and more emails are not the remedy. Equally unhelpful is traditional communication training, which assumes you can pigeon-hole other people into “types” (e.g. MBTI, DiSC) and adjust your style to that type’s preferences. (Most people don’t walk around with labels on their foreheads announcing their types, and profiling other people is incredibly hard.)
In this half-day segment, you’ll learn powerful ways to get your point across in interactions with staff, colleagues, and managers. You’ll practice effective interactions, giving feedback, handling resistance, and difficult conversations — all without being “touchy-feely”. Along the way, you’ll get help (from me and your peers) for team- and leadership-related problems.
4. Coaching individuals and teams
Coaching is the leader’s best tool for helping people embrace the Agile mind-set. And in the course of daily work, leaders use coaching to help their followers, peers, and even superiors improve their results. But what does that mean? What can you and can’t you do in an environment of autonomy, trust, and self-organization? When should you be teaching, facilitating, mentoring, or coaching? Why do logical arguments rarely work as well as you’d expect them to? And do you really have to ask for permission to coach?
We’ll explore the 9 stances of helpfulness and to increase the likelihood of your offers of help being accepted. We’ll then zero in on the coaching stance, study the GROW model, and bring it to life with useful techniques. The instructor will demonstrate expert coaching with one of the participants, and debrief the experience with the audience. Attendees will practice and receive feedback on their coaching. We’ll see what leaders do to support their team’s Agility in a coaching capacity, and discuss useful techniques for creating quick shifts in teams.
5. Facilitating team conversations
The #1 complaint about Agile is that there are too many meetings. In most cases, the complaint is less about the number of meetings than about their quality and value. But meetings, and all forms of conversation, are vital for a self-organizing team that values communication, collaboration, and consensus.
Whether in a formal meeting or in the hallway, whether in person or distributed, you must do certain basic things to make conversations meaningful and worthwhile. (And they don’t necessarily involve flipcharts, stickies, or markers.) You’ll practice with — and get tons of feedback on — two elements you must absolutely get right if your meetings are to succeed.
6. Optional: Managing the frustration of leading change
The people you lead experience two types of change: product and work changes, and growth as an Agile team. As exhilarating as such leadership can be, it can also be frustrating. You will encounter blame, justification, guilt, and other coping stances. You’ll learn a useful model and perspective for identifying and overcoming the frustration. Along the way, we’ll examine a powerful technique to inspire people to take responsibility.
Mirroring our first topic — your role and mind-set — we’ll now explore your own personal growth path and specific steps forward.
“As a coach and mentor, Gil helped me solidify confidence in my own agile leadership and accelerated my team's growth. While initially skeptical, I learned that Gil not only makes recommendations, but instead facilitates learning, works with existing pressures, and cultivates future coaches from within an organization. He gradually replaces himself by building real, lasting change.”
Engineering Director, D2L
Working on your PMP / PMI-ACP certification renewal? You’ll earn 14 Category B PDUs from this workshop.
Working on your CSP credits? You’ll earn 14 Category B SEUs from this workshop.
This workshop is particularly geared to active Lean/Agile practitioners who have the opportunity to apply what they learn here. I expect you to know the Agile basics and to have at least a couple of months’ experience applying them. You don’t have to be "an Agile convert" :-)
Who Should Attend:
- Team/delivery leads,
Your Traininer - Gil Broza
My mission is to make software development more effective, humane, and responsible. I help people and organizations pick up where Scrum left off, especially on the technical and the human sides of Agile. I’ve recently published The Agile Mind-Set: Making Agile Processes Work. In 2012, I published The Human Side of Agile: How to Help Your Team Deliver, the definitive practical book on leading Agile teams to greatness. Any given day, you can find me coaching, consulting, training, speaking, facilitating, and writing. More than 1,000 people have already signed up for my free 20-session mini-program, Something Happened on the Way to Agile.
You get depth. I have programmed professionally for 18 years. I was a development manager for three of those. Since 2004, I’ve introduced and facilitated change from the technical and management perspectives. Lastly, I’m pragmatic; I’m not focused on just one part of the solution (such as process) and you won’t hear me parroting dogma.
“I was deeply impressed by Gil’s teaching style — his explanations, examples and simulations were engaging and clear. What impressed me most, however, was how attuned he was to our culture and practices. The conversations he seeded around working effectively across teams and stakeholder groups were invaluable in helping me understand my role in driving change both within my team and throughout our organization.”
Product Owner, D2L, Kitchener, Canada
You’re protected by my “Happy To Be Here” guarantee
I’m confident that when you dig in to the deep learnings in the Grow a Solid Agile Team workshop, you’re going to be thrilled. If you truly participate and apply yourself, you — as well as your team and organization — will see the difference.
Just to back that up, if you decide at the end of the first day that it’s not for you, tell me. Return all the materials you received, and I’ll refund your ticket less a 20% reversal fee. No questions asked.
Please read our full terms and conditions.