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Introduction

Introduction

These few pages of introduction were probably harder to write than most of the book. Bemoaning this fact to an agile coach colleague of mine, someone who was my coach apprentice a few years ago, I watched a slow smile creep across her face as she looked up at me and fed my words back to me. She said, with simplicity and clarity, “Take it to the team.”

“Take it to the team,” I repeated. How many times had I said that to her during her agile coach apprenticeship? Too many to count, as I helped her recover from command-and-control-ism and move into a world where she would routinely take problems to the team instead of solving them single-handedly.

So, when confronted with the problematic introduction text, “take it to the team” sounded like sage advice. I sent a note to the people who have been with me every step of the way while this book was coming to life and asked them what two things must be conveyed in the introduction. Their responses are interwoven with one another and my own ideas throughout the rest of this introduction.

This small example—this tiny reminder of what it is to be an agile coach—contains in it the purpose of this book. Perhaps you are like me, finding yourself recovering from some past way of working with teams and people that used to be successful but doesn’t seem to work anymore. Or, perhaps you sense something ineffective, or even inhumane, in the way you have been trained to work with others. You want to change as you take up your agile leadership mantle but don’t know where to start.

I’ve been recovering for many years now, yet the behaviors of the past linger. They hang around even though I find myself in a totally new agile landscape, full of freedom, accountability, and possibility. In this example, the need to take on the problem of the introduction single-handedly and solve it so that I can say “I did it all by myself” still clings to me even though it no longer serves me. I know this, yet I forget. And herein lies the practice of agile coaching: to constantly reawaken and refocus, so you can improve the span and impact of your coaching. Why? So that people become great agilists, teams create products that make them proud, and companies and nations reap the benefits of free and accountable teams living in a world of possibility from which both innovation and excellence arise.

The imperative to “constantly improve” means exposing ourselves to one good agile coaching idea after another and incorporating them into our daily responses as coaches to teams and people. This book serves up a wide variety of those good coaching ideas, some provocative and some practical. Some you will chew on for a long time, maybe even struggle with. Others you will adopt as yours right away. Expect both.

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