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Mike Cottmeyer… Agile Coach

Mike Cottmeyer Chief Executive Officer
Reading: Mike Cottmeyer… Agile Coach

I have quite a unique opportunity…

Normally my job with VersionOne involves training and a bit of consulting. I spend most of my time on site with customers, for only a few days at a time, trying to get across as much agile knowledge… and teach as much about our product… while helping them paint a vision for their agile journey ahead.

Over the next two months I get to change things up a bit… I’m working with a client here in Atlanta as an agile coach. I get to spend some time working with a REAL team, actually putting some of the stuff I talk about into practice. It is a nice treat and it feels great to get back into the day-to-day of helping folks with live projects.

I am really looking forward to the change of pace… and the opportunity to stay out of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for a few weeks. As an added bonus (if the last few days are any indication) this engagement is going to provide months of stuff to write about. Nothing like getting busy to start the creative juices flowing.

Prior to my first day with the new team, there were a few things I wanted to get a handle on pretty quick. I want to share with you guys what I felt was important and see if anyone else out there wanted to contribute to my list:

  • How well does the team understand agile roles. Who was doing what on the project?
  • How are they managing the project? How are the critical meetings being run? What metrics is the team tracking? How well does the team facilitate meetings? Are they using collaborative approaches for estimating and planning? Is someone dealing with impediments?
  • How disciplined are their engineering practices. Are there any critical practices missing?
  • Is their organizational structure supportive of agile teams or is it an impediment? Do they have any alignment issues between projects, product, teams, management, or software architecture?
  • What is their leadership style like? Are they more command and control or do they take a more participative approach?
  • How strong is the product vision? How well are the user stories articulated? Do they understand the full scope of the project or expect the backlog to emerge? How much requirements churn do we expect?

What do you think? What would you need to know about a team to be an effective coach?

Next My Agile Lightbulb Moment

Comments (4)

  1. Basim Baassiri

    Hi Mike,
    I think one factor to take in consideration is the maturity of the team professionally i.e. years of experience .. are you dealing with new grads or seasoned professionals? As well, the resistance to change factor. Is there any evidence that team welcomed or resisted to a new way of doing things? Knowing this information would help in the delivery of the agile culture and process surrounding it

    Good luck with the assignment


  2. Mike Cottmeyer

    Thanks for the well wishes… assessing team maturity is a great suggestion. I am always on the lookout for resistance to change so I probably should have included that on my list too. I appreciate the feedback!


  3. mike

    Maybe this is tied to your point about the organizational structure, but do they actually have a cross-functional team or are they using a matrix management approach on top of functional silos? i.e. does the team have one boss or many?

  4. Doug

    Looking forward to following your experiences Mike – I’m having a similar experience and will be stepping in to the Scrum Master role from a coaching/evangelist role on a real project – first time in 3 years! Should be a blast and I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty again!


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