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Everything I Learned
About Agile Coaching,
I Learned in Little
League Baseball
Steven Granese
@sgranese
Steven Granese
VP, Transform
Practice
Consulting and Software Done Right
BY THE NUMBERS
2004
Year Founded
4
Locations
440+
Consultants
11Consecutive Years
Inc. ...
Full Cycle Enterprise Services & Solutions
TRANSFORM & BUILD PRACTICES
Digital Transformation
and Integration
BUILD
Enterp...
INNING 1:
Background
2015
Developer
Dev Manager
Dev Consultant
Agile Consultant
CSM
Product Manager
Little League
College
High School Coach
Hig...
Addison
Marusza
k
Inquiry
Imagery
Extremes
Engagement
Yankees Coaching Philosophy
- questions
- visualize
- experiment
- fun
OUTCOMES
2015
Little League
College
High School Coach
High School
Little League Coach
Yankees
Coaches Clinic
Coaching to an
Outcome...
INNING 2:
Coaching to an
Outcome
What is an Outcome?
The result of
a series of
activities.
Activity
Activity
Activity
What is a Good Outcome?
1. Aligned to a bigger
purpose or goal.
2. Understood clearly
and easily
3. Measurable with
simple...
Example Outcome - Darts
GOAL
Win the game
OUTCOME ACTIVITY
Hit the bullseye Throw the darts
Aligned? Understood? Measurabl...
Individual Exercise 1 – Reflect on Outcomes
What is an outcome?
What makes up a good outcome?
INNING 3:
Inquiry and
Imagery
Inquiry – Ask Questions to Learn
• Understand the
real problem
• Stimulates critical
thinking
• Design relevant
outcomes
Imagery – Visualize the Outcome
• “Show” rather than
“Tell”
• Watch someone
that is successful
• Combine with
Inquiry to v...
Balance Exercise
Goal:
Pitch on All Star Team
Outcome:
Increase First Pitch
Strikes
Activity:
Practice Balance Daily
Goal:
Pitch on All Star Team
Outcome:
Increase First Pitch
Strikes
Activity:
Practice Balance Daily
CASE STUDY: KYLE
Goal
Accomplished!
Agile Inquiry – Asking Questions to Learn
• Don’t you think your Daily
Standup is too long?
• Would you like your Sprint
P...
Agile Imagery - Visualizing Outcomes
Burndowns | Story Maps | Kanban Boards
Agile Imagery – Learn from Successful
Orgs
Individual Exercise 2 – Write an Outcome
What questions can you ask the team to better
understand their situation? (Inquir...
INNING 4:
Extremes
Extremes – Experiment with New Practices
• Stretch out of your
comfort zone
• Return to normal and
see what has changed
• ...
Extreme Activity Example
DESIRED REALITY EXTREME
Use Inquiry and Imagery to Protect Safety
“At what angle is
your bat?”
“Where did you hit
the ball?”
“Is your bat still
po...
Hitting Demo
Extreme Hitting Activities!
Problem Normal Solution Extreme Solution
Wrapping bat
around head
Hold the bat upright Experim...
Extreme Agile Coaching Activities!
Problem Normal Solution Extreme Solution
Daily Standup takes
over 45 minutes
Conduct Da...
INNING 5:
Engagement
Engagement – Make Learning Fun
• Implement positive
competitions & games
• Celebrate
achievements
• Goal is for people to
...
What game do many Scrum teams play?
CASE STUDY:
SPRINT REVIEW
Goal:
Collaboration and innovation
Outcome:
Three new feature ideas
Activity:
Feature competitio...
INNING 6:
Table
Exercise
Table Exercise
How can your team experiment
by trying new techniques?
(Extremes)
What game or competition can
you recommen...
Design an Outcome-based Coaching Plan
Given your team’s discussion and knowing the
organizational goal:
1. Write down a re...
Assignment: Self-Reflection
1. I found a passion outside of work that
helped me find ways to become a
better agile coach.
...
Everything I Learned
About Agile Coaching,
I Learned in Little League
Baseball
Scrum Gathering 2019, Austin
Steven Granese...
Everything I Learned About Agile Coaching, I Learned in Little League Baseball
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Everything I Learned About Agile Coaching, I Learned in Little League Baseball

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What does teaching a seven-year-old how to hit a baseball have to do with agile coaching? After coaching Little League for eight years, and agile teams for ten years, I thought I was an expert at both. Last year, while attending a New York Yankees coaching clinic, I quickly realized that I had much to learn. Rather than focusing on isolated mechanics, the Yankees believe in coaching towards achieving measurable outcomes. Their approach allows players to learn the “how” at their own pace through self-discovery and experimentation, which allows for deeper learning and longer-lasting results.

The Yankees philosophy can be applied towards coaching agile teams. For example, rather than coaching Scrum teams to only improve their practices, I now help teams to achieve business outcomes. Focusing on outcomes frees teams to experiment with the practices that will help them deliver the results they want. This approach made me a better agile coach. I had less friction with my teams, and they achieved their desired results more quickly.

In this session, I will describe the outcome-driven approach taught by the Yankees, which includes techniques like Inquiry, Imagery, Extremes and Engagement. I will teach baseball fundamentals to a few lucky volunteers, who will hit real baseballs off a “tee" and learn to pitch. And I will demonstrate how to apply these concepts to make your agile teams more effective.

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Everything I Learned About Agile Coaching, I Learned in Little League Baseball

  1. 1. Everything I Learned About Agile Coaching, I Learned in Little League Baseball Steven Granese @sgranese
  2. 2. Steven Granese VP, Transform Practice
  3. 3. Consulting and Software Done Right BY THE NUMBERS 2004 Year Founded 4 Locations 440+ Consultants 11Consecutive Years Inc. 5000 3
  4. 4. Full Cycle Enterprise Services & Solutions TRANSFORM & BUILD PRACTICES Digital Transformation and Integration BUILD Enterprise Application Development Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Data Analytics and Business Intelligence Cloud Solutions (including Cloud Migration Factory) Development StudioUser Interface and Experience Design Collaboration TRANSFORM 4 System Integration and Digital Implementation Consulting Strategy and Organizational Design Training & Workshops Custom and Certification Coaching Teams and Scaled Programs
  5. 5. INNING 1: Background
  6. 6. 2015 Developer Dev Manager Dev Consultant Agile Consultant CSM Product Manager Little League College High School Coach High School Little League Coach Outcome-Agility Yankees Coaches Clinic CSP
  7. 7. Addison Marusza k
  8. 8. Inquiry Imagery Extremes Engagement Yankees Coaching Philosophy - questions - visualize - experiment - fun OUTCOMES
  9. 9. 2015 Little League College High School Coach High School Little League Coach Yankees Coaches Clinic Coaching to an Outcome Developer Dev Manager Dev Consultant Agile Consultant CSM Product Manager Outcome-Agility CSP
  10. 10. INNING 2: Coaching to an Outcome
  11. 11. What is an Outcome? The result of a series of activities. Activity Activity Activity
  12. 12. What is a Good Outcome? 1. Aligned to a bigger purpose or goal. 2. Understood clearly and easily 3. Measurable with simple tools
  13. 13. Example Outcome - Darts GOAL Win the game OUTCOME ACTIVITY Hit the bullseye Throw the darts Aligned? Understood? Measurable?
  14. 14. Individual Exercise 1 – Reflect on Outcomes What is an outcome? What makes up a good outcome?
  15. 15. INNING 3: Inquiry and Imagery
  16. 16. Inquiry – Ask Questions to Learn • Understand the real problem • Stimulates critical thinking • Design relevant outcomes
  17. 17. Imagery – Visualize the Outcome • “Show” rather than “Tell” • Watch someone that is successful • Combine with Inquiry to validate understanding
  18. 18. Balance Exercise
  19. 19. Goal: Pitch on All Star Team Outcome: Increase First Pitch Strikes Activity: Practice Balance Daily
  20. 20. Goal: Pitch on All Star Team Outcome: Increase First Pitch Strikes Activity: Practice Balance Daily CASE STUDY: KYLE
  21. 21. Goal Accomplished!
  22. 22. Agile Inquiry – Asking Questions to Learn • Don’t you think your Daily Standup is too long? • Would you like your Sprint Planning to be 2 or 4 hours? • Do you have a definition of done? BAD GOOD • Why does your Daily Standup last 30 minutes? • How does Sprint Planning help achieve your goals? • What is your definition of done?
  23. 23. Agile Imagery - Visualizing Outcomes Burndowns | Story Maps | Kanban Boards
  24. 24. Agile Imagery – Learn from Successful Orgs
  25. 25. Individual Exercise 2 – Write an Outcome What questions can you ask the team to better understand their situation? (Inquiry) Write an outcome that helps the team achieve its goal. How can you help your team visualize its outcomes? 1. Review “Your Situation” on your handouts. 2. Answer the following questions:
  26. 26. INNING 4: Extremes
  27. 27. Extremes – Experiment with New Practices • Stretch out of your comfort zone • Return to normal and see what has changed • Challenge assumptions about what is possible
  28. 28. Extreme Activity Example DESIRED REALITY EXTREME
  29. 29. Use Inquiry and Imagery to Protect Safety “At what angle is your bat?” “Where did you hit the ball?” “Is your bat still pointed to our target?” “Where do we want you to hit the ball?”
  30. 30. Hitting Demo
  31. 31. Extreme Hitting Activities! Problem Normal Solution Extreme Solution Wrapping bat around head Hold the bat upright Experiment pointing bat backwards Upper cut / top spin Level your swing Chop the ball down to the ground No body turn Remind batter to turn Knees touching, point toes inward, heels off ground Not using legs Bend your knees Three-step walk up drill; balance leg like pitcher
  32. 32. Extreme Agile Coaching Activities! Problem Normal Solution Extreme Solution Daily Standup takes over 45 minutes Conduct Daily Standup every third day Conduct Daily Standup 3 times / day for 5 mins Stories are not completed in Sprint Add less stories to the next Sprint Double story count and split size in half Action not taken from Retrospectives Add retro action items to next Sprint’s Backlog Take action on 2 items immediately
  33. 33. INNING 5: Engagement
  34. 34. Engagement – Make Learning Fun • Implement positive competitions & games • Celebrate achievements • Goal is for people to forget they’re learning
  35. 35. What game do many Scrum teams play?
  36. 36. CASE STUDY: SPRINT REVIEW Goal: Collaboration and innovation Outcome: Three new feature ideas Activity: Feature competition End of Sprint celebration
  37. 37. INNING 6: Table Exercise
  38. 38. Table Exercise How can your team experiment by trying new techniques? (Extremes) What game or competition can you recommend? (Engagement) 1. Select someone’s outcome from Exercise 2. 2. Discuss the questions:
  39. 39. Design an Outcome-based Coaching Plan Given your team’s discussion and knowing the organizational goal: 1. Write down a revised outcome. 2. Write down a recommended activity.
  40. 40. Assignment: Self-Reflection 1. I found a passion outside of work that helped me find ways to become a better agile coach. 2. My challenge to you: From where can you draw inspiration to improve your coaching skills? 3. Record your thoughts on your handout.
  41. 41. Everything I Learned About Agile Coaching, I Learned in Little League Baseball Scrum Gathering 2019, Austin Steven Granese VP, Transform Practice AgileThought Steven.Granese@agilethought.com @sgranese

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