A Week in the Life of An Agile Coach – Friday

8:15am – Ah, the end of a long week, I like to get in a bit earlier on Friday’s since it’s usually a pretty low-key day.  No meetings, no training, just an opportunity to think and research.

After the usual checking the Agile support box and responding to email I start working on some Agile flash cards we want to start distributing.  These are 3 x 5 index cards on various Agile topics that folks can use as a pocket reference guide.  This will help people at least get some of the lingo right so it’s not so confusing.  Right now any opportunity to see stuff is called a demo and when the product owner is preparing stories they often call it a planning session and are getting confused between this session and iteration planning.

10am – Stand-up time.   Since we’re only a couple of days into this iteration some un-expected tasks come up that the team didn’t think about during iteration planning.   I remind them to stick to the 3 questions and we’ll talk about those after.    There is still dysfunction in the stand-up but they are getting value out of it and I don’t think forcing them to the 3 questions and only those 3 questions is what is best for the team.  Yes it should be a guide, but the value of the stand-up is defined by the value the team gets out of it.

After the stand-up I remind them to update their tasks in our tool, as recommended by one of the programmers.    Then I ask them if they are pairing, they should add a duplicate task in the tool so each person can get credit for the work.  If it was up to me I wouldn’t bother but governance is governance and that’s far too big of a battle I’m not willing to fight right now.  Besides, it’s quick and easy and if it makes some managers happy, I don’t really care either way.

I close out the morning with preparing 3 sets of front-and-back flash cards and send them over to my mentor to review.

1pm – After lunch we have an emergency meeting with the QA manager about passing off our work to the regression/release/deploy process.   I make the mistake of being a bit smug with the fact we’ve automated our tests and we’re happy to sit with the QA team to show them what we did but in retrospect I realize I should have listened more to uncover why we need to go through this process.  I should have spent more time understanding what they need instead of being so nonchalant.

I guess I’m a bit irked that although this is a self-organized, fully cross-functional team, the business still wants governance and checks and balances.  At the end of the day, figuratively speaking, we’re only losing half an iteration for these activities and the product owner is satisfied so mission accomplished.

2pm – I do some research on the Estimating and Planning class we plan to deliver next month and it’s really tough to come up with material and not completely rip-off just about everything Mike Cohn has already done.  I am able to apply some ideas more relevant to our environment and make the material focus more on planning instead of the plan.

Upper management also wants some notes on the pros and cons of a short-term vs long-term transition plan so I jot some down and send them off to my mentor to get some feedback.  She’s handling this initiative because, well to be frank, she’s smarter than I am and has more experience.  I do enjoy participating in these activities but with the sheer size of the organization there is no shortage of work.

4:30pm – after reading a pile of blogs and a couple of videos I head out for the week satisfied with the result.

I hope you enjoyed reading this series of posts.  They accurately describe what I do day-in and day-out and everyday is almost like working with different clients as I get to participate in various teams and talk to many people throughout the company.   Hopefully you did notice some of the dysfunction with some of the interactions I described as well as what I did to handle them.  That was sorta the whole point of the series!  As usual, don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts, the 2 comments I’ve received over the last couple of months are getting lonely!