Agile Coaching Resources

The Agile Coaching Institute develops people in the skills and mindsets of great Agile Coaching. This page offers many resources to get you started in various knowledge and skill areas of the Agile Coaching Competency Framework. Enjoy! And, take it slow — there is a lot to digest here.

Agile Coaching Competency Framework

Agile-Lean Practitioner

Transformation-Mastery Business-Mastery Technical-Mastery Mentoring Teaching Facilitating Professional-Coaching Agile-Lean-Practitioner

Ability to learn and deeply understand Agile frameworks and Lean principles, not only at the level of practices, but also at the level of the principles and values that underlie the practices enabling appropriate application as well as innovation.

Professional Coaching Ability to act as a coach, with the client’s interest determining the direction, rather than the coach’s expertise or opinion.

Facilitating Neutral process holder that guides the individual’s, team’s, or organization’s process of discovery, holding to their purpose and definition of success.

Mentoring Ability to impart one’s experience, knowledge and guidance to help grow another in the same or similar knowledge domains.

Teaching Ability to offer the right knowledge, at the right time, taught in the right way, so that individuals, teams and organizations metabolize the knowledge for their best benefit.

Technical Mastery Ability to get your hands dirty architecting, designing, coding, test engineering, or performing some other technical practice, with a focus on promoting technical craftsmanship through example and teaching-by-doing. And, expertise in agile scaling patterns or structures.

Business Mastery Ability to apply business strategy and management frameworks to employ agile as a competitive business advantage such as Lean Start-Up, product innovation techniques, flow-based business process management approaches, and other techniques that relate to innovating in the business domain.

Transformation Mastery Ability to facilitate, catalyze and (as appropriate) lead organizational change and transformation. This area draws on change management, organization culture, organization development, systems thinking, and other behavioral sciences.


Agile-Lean Practitioner

Kanban Workbook by Karen Greaves and Sam Laing

Succeeding with Agile, Mike Cohn

Agile Game Development with Scrum, Clinton Keith

Henrik Kniberg: Scrum and XP From the Trenches Also available as a downloadable PDF. If you’re a newcomer to Scrum, and you’re going to read only one Scrum book, make it this one.

Henrik Kniberg and Mattias Skarin: Kanban and Scrum – Making the most of both In the style of Scrum and XP from the Trenches, this book is ultra-practical and useful without becoming a “guide for dummies.” Available as a print book and as a downloadable PDF.

Ken Schwaber & Mike Beedle: Agile Software Development with Scrum The original Scrum book. Good, clear overview of the practices and principles of Scrum. It is somewhat out-of-date now, as Scrum has progressed since the book was written, but it is still a valuable read.

Menlo Innovations Team: Innovative Exploration A picture book about how Menlo Innovations does XP (really, truly, fully). Great for showing people what it should look like and how it should work when done well.

Mike Cohn: User Stories Applied This clear and simple book covers the aspects of writing, estimating, prioritizing and committing to product requirements. Essential reading for Product Owners.

Mike Cohn: Agile Estimating and Planning What are story points again? Why do we use them and not estimated hours? This book will refresh you on these topics and help you become good at estimation and release planning.

Mike Cohn: What is agile and Scrum and Scrum described

Scrum Alliance: What is Scrum

InfoQ interview with Jeff Sutherland: Scrum and Not Scrum — with video.

Tobias Mayer: Essence of Scrum

Lyssa Adkins: The Road from Project Manager to Agile Coach
YouTube video, in two parts. Part two is here.

Michael James: A Scrum Master’s Checklist

Lyssa Adkins and Michael K. Spayd: The Manager’s Role in Agile

Lyssa Adkins’ video: Interlocking Roles in Agile

Jim Highsmith: Agile Project Management – Creating Innovative Products Good overview of Agile approaches to project management. This is more “managerial” and offers some good ideas for working with customers.


Professional Coaching

Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson

Laura Whitworth, et. al.: Co-Active Coaching, 2nd Edition: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life
A great book for getting a good introduction to coaching skills for agile coaches, such as powerful questions. Includes an appendix of hundreds of powerful questions, as well as other “templates” for coaches.

Karen Kimsey House, et. al.: Co-Active Coaching, 3th Edition: Changing Business, Transforming Lives
This is the latest version of this book and has some wonderful updates to the co-active model. It does not contain the Powerful Questions appendix.

Powerful Questions Cards from the Coaching Agile Teams class

Deb Preuss: Powerful Questions Cards (more!)

Tony Stoltzfus: Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills
This is the full-of-easy-and-useful-stuff book that David and Allison love.

Powerful Questions iPhone, iPad and DRIOD app: CTI Thinkpal

Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa Adkins

International Coach Federation
Lists all accredited coaching schools and administers coaching credentials.

European Mentoring and Coaching Council
Lists all accredited coaching schools in Europe.

Coaches Training Institute
The individual coaching training school Michael and Lyssa went to.

Center for Right Relationship
Coach training school offering Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (team coaching).

Attractor
Systemic Coaching offered in Denmark

Newfield Network
Executive coaching school

Fernando Lopez: Antidotes for Team Toxins
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Howard Guttman: Great Business Teams
The idea of conflict protocols originates in this book.

Susan Scott: Fierce Conversations
Because you have a lot of fierce conversations as an agile coach. Might as well get good at them.


Facilitating

The Facilitators Guide to Participatory Decisions Making – Sam Kaner

Gamestorming by Dave Gray

System’s Thinking Playbook by Linda Booth Sweeney and Dennis Meadows

The Coach’s Guide to Facilitation – Karen Greaves and Sam Laing

Facilitating with Ease by Ingrid Bens, this book is full of great exercises, techniques, & mindsets for facilitators.

Collaboration Explained by Jean Tabaka, a great book for agile coaches about being a good facilitator. Check out the section with starter agendas for sprint planning and other agile meetings.

Agile Retrospectives by Esther Derby and Diana Larsen, to help you create retrospectives that have people get up from the conference room table and come up with real insights. Our copy of this one has stickies all over it and coffee stains and worn out pages. That’s how much we use it.

The Tao of Holding Space: 81 short chapters on facilitating open space by Chris Corrigan, a grounding set of principles for creating space in one’s facilitation. Printed cards by Deborah Preuss.


Mentoring

Rachel Davies and Liz Sedley, Agile Coaching
A very practical and useful guide for coaching teams. Wonderful for new agile coaches.

Christopher Avery: Teamwork is an Individual Skill: Getting Your Work Done While Sharing Responsibility
This is a must-have book for Agile team members. It contains tests and tools to help you become the kind of team member that creates astonishing results.


Teaching

Training from the Back of the Room, Sharon Bowman

Coaching Agile Teams, Lyssa Adkins


Technical Mastery

Continuous Delivery by Jez Humble

More Agile Testing by Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory

Nature of software development by Ron Jeffries

Agile Testing, Lisa Crispin and Janet Gregory

Running Tested Features and Technical Debt by Ron Jeffries

Kent Beck: Extreme Programming Explained: Embrace Change One of the first Agile books. Focuses mainly (but not solely) on the engineering practices, and supplies good overall context for creating an Agile organization.

Scaling Lean & Agile Development, Craig Larman & Bas Vodde


Business Mastery

The New How by Nilofer Merchant

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

The Lean Startup, Eric Ries groundbreaking book on bringing the Agile and Lean mindset to the entrepreneurial world, even in large organizations.

Principles of Product Development Flow, Donald Reinertsen’s wonderful book and the new economics of product development, based on lean thinking, and how product development is different than lean manufacturing.

Enthiosys’ Agile Product Roadmaps and Product Management

Holistic product design and development – Jeff Patton

Lean A3 Process, a problem solving process started at Toyota

Value Stream Mapping – measuring value add vs. waste times in business processes

Agile Product Management with Scrum: Creating Products that Customers Love, Roman Pichler

Mike Cohn: Want Better Software? Just Ask
Also take a look at Mike’s other available papers. Mike Cohn has a very pragmatic approach to Scrum and writes in a very clear and succinct way.

Mike Cohn: Prioritizing Your Product Backlog
This page has a downloadable version of slides we cover in class, and a video of Mike covering the material himself. Check that out. He is the master of this topic.

Luke Hohmann: Innovation Games
For when the product owner is just “winging it” and has no clue what the team should really build. These are a collection of serious games that tap into what customers, vendors, and partners really want and will really buy.

David Rico: The Business Value of Agile Software Methods
This book gives you all the numbers and formulas you could possibly want on why Agile methods produce more value than other ways of working.

When you need some more convincing data, here are Waterfall vs Agile statistics vs industry benchmarks from QSM Associates and Michael Mah- article + webinar video lesson with Michael Mah


Transformation Mastery

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Maverick by Ricardo Semler

The Leadership Circle Profile – a comprehensive 360 assessment that helps you get a clear view into your leadership effectiveness. Michael Spayd is a certified facilitator of this profile and has the ability to administer it and help individuals and groups understand the results.

Leadership in a Wiki World, Rod Collins

Bill Schneider: The Reengineering Alternative: A Plan for Making your Current Culture Work.
This book describes the 4 corporate cultures and gives a simple diagnostic tool to see which culture your corporation might be. More comprehensive diagnostics for corporate culture and for your leadership-culturelink are also available from certified facilitators such as Michael Spayd.

Dan Pink: Drive: The Surprising Truth about what Motivates Us
What motivates people, really? (hint: it’s not raises or public embarrassment). For a short burst of this book in 15 minutes, see the TED talk on The Surprising Science of Motivation.

The Arbinger Institute: The Anatomy of Peace
For helping you turn the ratio around so that you are spending much more time helping things go right rather than dealing with things that are going wrong. Plus, great ways to get to the heart of conflict on your teams (and within yourself).

The Arbinger Institute: Leadership and Self-Deception
Essential reading for any manager, but especially for Agile Coaches.

Lee Devin & Rob Austin: Artful Making
This is an excellent book that explores how methods used in creative fields such as theatre can be applied to managing knowledge-based projects.

Steven Johnson: Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software
Why agile teams are more like ecosystems than machines is explained with lots of examples in this book.

Tom DeMarco: Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency
This book is inspiring and surprising; it is like a whack to the side of the head.

Margaret Wheatley: Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
Great material on why the mechanistic view of the workforce no longer works. What worked for me: start with Chapter 8 then go back to the heavier science at the beginning.

Change model theorists who have written many books: Darryl Conner, John Kotter

Peter Block: The Answer to How is Yes
A great book for helping your managers (and you) get past the “how do we do it” and into the “why should we do it.”

Tom Peters: Re-imagine! Business Excellence in a Disruptive Age
This book is visually stunning and its content is powerful. It should get you re-imagining in no time.

Peter Senge and others: Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations and Society
This one is a little academic, but if you like that (or can wade through it) the payoff is big. Amazing insights.

Bill Joiner and Stephen Josephs: Leadership Agility: Five Levels of Mastery for Anticipating and Initiating Change
The leaders we need now are not heroes, they are synergists who bring the best out in everyone (including themselves). This book gives you a clear model of the levels of leadership in play now and where we are going with the new breeds of leadership (and why we must).

Jon Katzenbach, Douglas Smith: Wisdom of Teams Much foundational information about teams is in this classic, including the difference between a working group, pseudo team and team. It helps you know which of these you currently have.

Umair Haque : The Builder’s Manifesto
It’s Buildership, not Leadership that’s needed today.

Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders, Jurgen Appelo

Daniel Goleman: Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence

J. Richard Hackman: Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances
While not an agile book per-se, all of the ideas in this book are applicable to coaching agile teams. For example, if you need help convincing a product owner to create a compelling vision, this book helps you explain why that’s so important.

Losada and Heaphy: The Role of Positivity and Connectivity in the Performance of Business Teams: A Nonlinear Dynamics Model
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