In an earlier blog post, you can see why we refer to Scrum Masters at //SEIBERT/MEDIA as Agile Coaches. Of course, that post wasn’t the end of the story, and I’d like to explain further.
As mentioned in the previous post, we want to use our capabilities and strengths to achieve the greatest positive impact on our company and add value to our teams. Our work has moved more and more from the team level to the corporate level. As Agile Coaches, company training and further education is most important. But first, here is some food for thought at a more abstract level.
Side note: Don’t I need to change myself before I can change the world?
Transformation happens over two interconnected levels: one is the transformation of the economy, public administration, etc. – the macro level. This includes structures, processes and people’s behavior. We address this internally through frameworks such as Scrum and using collaborative software. This is also how we help other companies transform at the macro level.
But there is also the micro level: Is transformation possible if I do not transform myself? People can develop in two ‘directions’. Horizontally: they deepen their knowledge and experience in their chosen subject and/or learn new behaviors. Vertically: their thinking expands: They understand and can integrate additional aspects outside of their specialised subject. For this, we need to self-reflect, which leads to maturity and vertical development.
When we develop vertically, we achieve a new awareness (what am I looking at?), and an improved interpersonal style (more open-minded thinking), which makes us question ourselves (why do I do something?).
Our task as agile coaches is therefore to create an environment supporting our development, both horizontally and vertically, where the environment ensures the development of our thinking does not lag behind the development of our behavior and our processes and structures.
Ways to cope with challenges
At the company level, our agile coaches are heavily involved in in-company training and further education. This starts with foundational workshops covering the basics of agile software development or product owner workshops, and leads to Coffee Talks, as well as other alternative training activities such as job crafting or workshops, for example on how to give feedback, or agile leadership.
In particular, my colleague Sarah has made it her mission to offer useful activities for further education. Together with the other Agile coaches, she is constantly looking for new activities, new moderators and coaches, and new opportunities to support our employees, particularly with personal and professional development.
We want to offer our colleagues – irrespective of personal character and life situation – a variety of activities and tools to tackle all sorts of problems and challenges collaboratively and successfully.
Coffee Talks (vertical development)
Personal and professional development is indispensable in our dynamic world: We need to meet the rapidly changing market requirements. Professional development and personal growth are also human needs, which are satisfying in and of themselves.
In order to change and evolve, we need to be open to feedback and reflect on our actions and thinking, we have to leave our comfort zone, again and again. This is exhausting, and we have little time for it in everyday life. However, pausing to self-reflect can be an important step towards more efficiency and satisfaction at work. And that is exactly what we want to enable our colleagues at //SEIBERT/MEDIA to achieve!
We meet once a month for two to three hours over coffee to discuss and reflect on a variety of themes. This may be done in discussions, seminars, workshops, coaching, etc.
To give the whole process a framework, our corporate values (in German) and their related topics are used as anchor points in 2017. So far, we’ve hosted three events: “We love change, do you?”, “Ambiguity tolerance – competent handling of uncertainty”, and “Resiliency – the competence of the successful”.
Foundational workshops (horizontal and sometimes vertical development)
An example of a foundational workshop is the one-day hands-on training for agile software development with Scrum and Kanban, which my colleague Sven and I regularly lead. Here, we provide new employees, irrespective of their jobs and responsibilities, with an insight into our every-day work methods at //SEIBERT/MEDIA.
We are certain that it is very useful when every employee, even when they do not work with Scrum in their team, understands how the development teams work internally, and, above all, why we use these methods. In addition to the methodology, we want colleagues to understand the mindset and the values that are based on Scrum (transparency, inspect & adapt). We strive to provide new colleagues with an appropriate foundation as soon as possible after they have joined the company, in order to make it as easy as possible for them to integrate into our working world and company culture.
The outcomes of the workshops have so far justified our approach, and we are looking forward to helping people internalize the benefits of cooperation within our organization, and to implement them in their daily lives.
Product owner workshops
When the foundations of Scrum are already well understood, for those who are product owners or who are interested in knowing more about the role of a product owner, we offer the opportunity to delve deeper and become ‘value maximizers’.
Here, tasks and useful tools that product owners should keep an eye on, are collected and collaboratively worked upon. This expands on the existing knowledge and experience from day-to-day work at //SEIBERT/MEDIA, especially in areas that impact ‘Proxy Product Owners’. This workshop also includes preparation for the Professional Scrum Product Owner certification via Scrum.org, if that is what our colleagues want.
Other training activities
As Agile Coaches, there are a few additional training opportunities that we provide: job-crafting, mentoring coaching, workshops on agile leadership and giving feedback, as well as many other activities that we have previously offered and will again.
What else is there to do for us as Agile Coaches at company level? The next blog post will be about our tasks in recruiting and external marketing.