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Agile Coach Code of Conduct

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A while back I started on an Agile Coach Code of Conduct. I noticed that after coaching for a while I started to forget basic principles that should be part of every coaching engagement.

So I put this list together to help me (and others) remember what coaching is all about.

Like everything in agile, it's an ideal, not something you can ever perfectly do.

  1. I will always remember that my teams are full of intelligent professionals acting in the best way that they can for project completion
  2. I will not direct or follow, but lead the team by example, which means walking a fine line between participation and observation
  3. I will always remember that I am a guest on each team, and will strive to behave respectfully to my hosts as much as I can
  4. I will separate knowledge from practice. Both are important, but either by itself is not
  5. I understand that teams have a limited ability to absorb information before they must process it in their daily work life. Once I reach the limit of my team's ability to change, out of respect for both the team's and my time I will back off
  6. I will spend a significant amount of passive time - time not spent directly helping the team - in the team's presence in their collaborative space. I understand that many team members will not ask me questions in public but will wait until I seem available
  7. I will understand that learning takes place entirely on a person-by-person basis. While coaching is directed at the team, it is measured by the individual. A failing team may contain many new agile converts, and a successful team may contain many contain none. Coaching does not always directly impact performance
  8. I will view my interaction as being supportive, not directive. Agile isn't something I'm doing to the team: it's something the team is discovering on its own along with my help
  9. I will always try to be flexible with what I am saying to the team. I am not there to perform a certain bag of tricks. If the team needs to do something else during my time, we'll do something else
  10. I will limit the amount of conversation I have about the team when I am away from them. When people bring me a problem or a difficulty with the team, my primary question is "did you take this up with the team?" I will not speculate on a team member's motives or capabilities with others (unless it is part of a coaching conversation with other coaches and the team identity remains largely anonymous)
  11. I will always accept negative feedback from the team with a positive attitude. It is not important that I am always right. It is more important that the team is being honest and open with each other. I need to lead by example.
  12. I will "check my personal baggage at the door"...that is--I will actively listen to the team, keenly observe them, and take them at their word, limiting the influence of negative experiences from the past and focusing instead on the unique team of individuals before me and the particulars of the situation that they face.

Hope somebody out there finds this useful. I know I did.

7 Comments

This is a great list, I bet you make for an excellent coach if you manage to follow even most of this on most days.

I will always remember that my teams are full of intelligent professionals acting in the best way that they can for project completion

Thank you! I can already envision an Agile Team Member Code of Conduct and I think I'd have it start with this same #1... :-)

Wonderful list!

Item 11 can be hard - coping with negative feedback can knock you back as an agile coach. But perseverance needs to be balanced with item 5, not exceeding team's limit for change.

This is a wonderful list. Very useful and inspiring.

Well done, you've captured the essence of coaching a team along with the challenge of introducing an approach that could cause discomfort.

Thanks for sharing.

Thank you, this is beautiful! I want to print it off, give it to my next team and ask them to tell me if they think I'm breaking it.

The only one I'm struggling with is the separation of knowledge and practice. How do you know if you've done this successfully?

Great list! I'm going to spread the word.

Great list. Thanks or sharing. I'm going to give it to my current customer and invite them to use it to keep me honest!

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This page contains a single entry by DanielBMarkham published on May 15, 2009 2:49 PM.

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  • Peter Hundermark: Great list. Thanks or sharing. I'm going to give it read more
  • Dave Nicolette: Great list! I'm going to spread the word. read more
  • Liz Keogh: Thank you, this is beautiful! I want to print it read more
  • David Draper: Well done, you've captured the essence of coaching a team read more
  • Lyssa: This is a wonderful list. Very useful and inspiring. read more
  • Rachel Davies: Wonderful list! Item 11 can be hard - coping with read more
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