For those of us who started our careers as traditional project managers, transforming into a Scrum Master role is an arduous journey. To be truly agile, we must surrender being the one who is in command and control. Our new role is to be coach and facilitator, teacher and observer. This is easier said than done.
The book Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for Scrum Masters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition by Lyssa Adkins is an invaluable resource in helping us to get there. The author’s extensive experience and her own journey to becoming a renowned agile coach is valuable input for the reader who is thinking about their own transition.
The most important take-aways from this book are that the agile coach listens, observes, doesn’t solve the team’s problems and for the most part doesn’t even speak. When required, the coach guides the team back on track by asking powerful questions that help team members to find new directions and learn from their mistakes. As Scrum Masters we actually know all that. But to really hold back, to not say anything when not called for, to play the role of silent observer and a wise teacher, to allow the team to find their own solutions even when we would have done it differently is what this book is all about.
Many of the situations described in this book pertain to people and their everyday interactions in the workplace. Thus the practices described in the book could be useful in any environment where people interact, not necessarily limited to agile projects.