Tips and Tricks

Welcome to Remote Agile Coaching!

Like all of you, I’m sheltered in place, hunkered down in my bunker in Seattle, waiting for things to get better. We’re fine and healthy and I’m grateful for that. And, like many others, I have the motivation to give back, so I’m going to start putting more stuff on this website about one of my biggest passions, Virtual Agile Coaching.

Socrates for the win

Back in 2017, when I registered this domain, I realized that we were on the cusp of a sea-change in the industry. connectivity and capability have been driving more and more industries to leverage remote work. Now it seems ever more timely.

Many of the people I’ve spoken to over the nearly two years I’ve been doing this fall into three distinct camps, at least before COVID-19.

Camp 1- Remote training sucks and coaching is nearly impossible. How do you read the room? Get engagement? Do the exercises?

Camp 2 – Remote is okay, in limited amounts, but the real work gets done in the office.

Camp 3 – Remote is the future! There are so many upsides that virtual work and work anywhere movements are the only way to operate in the 21st century.

I have moved sequentially through those camps: a skeptic, like any good Agilist, then a tolerant leader of those who wanted remote work, and now, full-throated support of such workstyles. No, it’s not for everyone, but remote work was here to stay before, and this type of work is center stage.

Remote work is getting tried at a scale never seen before. It’s a massive test of the networks, the abilities, and creativity of those who are executing the training. Remote learning requires patience at the learner’s end. It’s not the same, but it’s still effective. I personally have trained hundreds remotely and continue to support them with coaching.

I launched this blog at the outset of Agile 2019 in beautiful Washington DC on the topic of remote coaching. I’ll be pulling out lessons from that event, and reporting and sharing new tools as they pop up. We’re going to have a Cambrianesque explosion of tools and techniques with the advent of quarantines for the next month or so.

For now, let’s summarize what the crowd I had at Agile 2019 was saying about remote work before it was cool/necessary 🙂

  • Techniques – ceremony or deliverable specific ideas
    • Katrina T. – Interactive retros – example Playdoh – “build an image that describes the last sprint
    • Gisela M. – Measure happiness with the decisions they make at the beginning
    • Carlina A – We celebrate holidays with remote teams and share pictures
    • Melinda S. – Virtual Happy hour
    • Leslie K. – Remote ice breaker games
    • Gabriela V. – Have standup followed by core hours (15 min then 45)
    • Melinda S – Always use cameras for all meeting
    • Rebecca Wirfs-Brock – Review and start clear agenda before starting
    • SEB -Short segments, six trumps (Bowman), self-paced, individual and collaborative (this is from Training from the back of the room).
    • David K – I have had some success with web cames over physical boards.
    • Bill Wake – remote mob session – make sure tools ready before you begin
    • First 15 min for “Pets and babies” – this is the idea to show family members, either human or otherwise, in the first fifteen minutes of a meeting. (ed note: I love this one!)
  • Tools – a favorite topic
    • Carlina A – we use IdeaBoardz for backlog retrospectives for remote teams
    • Leslie K – Encourage video chats rather than voice, with Zoom or whatever is out there.
    • David K – tabletop board game simulators can be used to recreate some in-person exercises
    • Gabriela V – Slack Channel – Different topics one for sharing things outside of work and one for knowledge sharing
    • VR – This is a growing field and one is pursuing. Nothing to show…yet… 🙂
    • Joe F: check out Mural and other tools that allow for HUGE spaces for sticky notes and such.

  • Advice – general tips to get it done
    • Ellen – try to learn their language if possible (Ed note: I’d be terrible at this)
    • Rebecca Wirfs-Brock | Agile Alliance – Show and tell in remote training ( share other students work and discuss)
    • Shalini – Stop multitasking and focus on one task at a time – add commit time to review other people’s work
    • Leslie k. – Bring the team together 1-2 times during the engagement (ed note: when possible)
    • Jim C. – Train onsite coaches and use them as co-coaches we call them Agile Champion
    • Having remote teams together for 1 week. Ether at the start of the projector once a year for the ongoing team.
    • Dwight K – When you are on-site in-person spend as much time as needed to develop relationships and trust with individuals. #1 priority.
    • Gabriella – Take pictures of everyone smiling on a video call and send it on the slack channel
    • Elizabeth M – Small group experiments and present learnings back to the rest

Okay, that’s it for now. I hope you found these tips useful. I and a few other experienced coaches will be chiming in more frequently to get us all through this difficult time.

Keep it fun and positive and you and your teams will thrive!

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