RAC Insurance reached out to us to see if we could help one of their teams face into some challenges that they were experiencing.
This was a relatively new team with a number of new people who had joined with diverse experiences of agile from different organisations. They were not on the same page around some agile practices and some even wondered how agile as a team they were actually were.
As with all new teams they were also wrestling with how to work well with each other, dealing with many of the normal challenges you might expect a new team to face into.
In addition, they were changing their technology stack and their mission was very technical in nature. This increased the complexity for the team and even made it hard to understand how some of the agile practices might work for the technical challenges they faced.
It was clear that simply taking this team through Agile Essentials training would not be enough. We needed to empathically understand what was going on for them so that we could tailor two days of training, coaching, mentoring and facilitation to fit what they needed most.
We started by working with their Scrum Master to start gathering data from the team on what was happening. We seeded some questions to help them but left it open for them to add anything important.
The team posted their responses into a sealed box which we unpacked together on our first visit. Through this the team were able to identify themes and prioritise what they wanted to focus on. Here’s the ordered backlog they came up for where they needed help:
We then set about creating a customised 2 day agenda for the team to work through as much was feasible in the allocated time, focusing on the highest value first. This we shared with the team to get their feedback and made some final tweaks before we got underway:
Here’s the team on Day 1 doing paper constellations to draw out how they see the relationships within their team and the stakeholders with which they interact. The team posted these up on the wall and then stepped back collectively to observe and discuss any patterns they saw. With new insights they then collaboratively drew a new constellation together to visualise the relationship system they actually wanted.
Across the 2 days activities included a mixture of coaching, facilitation, teaching and mentoring for the team serving what they needed most in the moment.
We also applied learnings to their actual work. A good example of this was when we shared concepts on how to split product backlog items (PBI) for technical work to ensure they remained customer centric and kept feedback loops as short as possible. We then applied these concepts to their own Product Backlog, doing Product Backlog Refinement (PBR) together so they got practical experience of applying the concepts to their own technical work. This was well received and timely for the inception work they were about to get underway in the coming days.
This was the team’s feedback from our two days together:
We had substituted the ballpoint game, a game to experience inspect and adapt, with the airplane game as many on the team had previously experienced the ballpoint game. This was an experiment and the valued feedback shows us an area where we need to pivot!
Day 2 was brought to a close through some heartfelt comments from the team on the optimism they now held for their path ahead. That was the reward, knowing the team’s intention to build on the work they had started together over these two days.
Thank you to the Phoenix team for giving us the opportunity to do this work together 🙂
To summarise the benefits our Agile Coaching provided, we were able to:
- Create a shared understanding around the agile mindset, practices and the Scrum framework
- Help the team discover more about each other and how they want to relate with each other to support their work
- Facilitate the team to design their team alliance and provide tools to help improve how they work together
- Apply what they were learning to their real world challenge of how to apply some of the agile practices with heavily technical work
- Allowed the team to find optimism and positivity for where they needed to go next
If you have a team that would might be facing into similar challenges and would like some support feel free to get in touch.