The London leg of the Agile Tour will be reaching the capital this Friday, featuring a packed line-up of local and international agile experts. As a member of the programme committee, Adventures with Agile are interviewing a selection of speakers at this year’s conference. 

Next up in the Agile Tour London [ATL] interview series are Agile Coaches and AWA Support Network members Carlo Beschi & Luca Minudel.

1. Tell us a little bit about your agile journey?

[Luca] My agile journey began while I was a software developer in search for better ways of designing applications and writing code that was easier to read, understand, fix, change, and evolve.

At that time, the mainstream idea was to become an expert in upfront design, use tools to draw the architecture, delegate/outsource the coding part to someone else, and prepare for a future where a tool could automatically generate code from an architecture blueprint.

Thanks to the internet, at that time I got in touch with some new and revolutionary ideas from the Portland Pattern Repository’s Wiki, and from the eXtreme Programming book by Kent Beck: just enough upfront design, continuous design, continuous refactoring, and continuous testing, in small baby-steps. It took me about four years to understand and master those techniques. Then I faced the challenge to deal with the people side of agile software development: deep collaboration and effective teamwork. My journey on that side of agile software development was inspired by trainings and ideas presented at a conference two years earlier by Joseph Pelrine: the Stacy matrix, social complexity, Cynefin framework, and self-organising teams. Three years later I extended my focus to the whole organisation. Now, inspired by the work of Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd, I’m focusing on the people side of lean/agile: coaching individuals, teams, and the organisation.

[Carlo] My agile-lean journey began 11 years ago, with a gift from a friend – a copy of “Extreme Programming Explained – Embrace Change“. Since then, it’s been a long, energising, fascinating journey – made of practicing and studying and learning.

The journey is by no mean over – yet I moved over time from more technical and hands on roles to “management” and “advisors” positions. I truly believe in agile and lean values, and do my best to “walk the talk” on a daily basis. My main source of inspiration are the people I work with, together with my peers – that amazing thing we call “agile community”.

2. Your session is The Making of an Agile Coach, what are the origins of the talk?

[Luca] In 2014, Carlo and I faced the challenge to grow a group of internal lean-agile coaches, as part of an organisational transformation for a primary e-fashion company. We partnered with HR to identify the competences a lean/agile coach needs, what outcomes and artefacts a lean/agile coach produces, how to measure success for a lean/agile coach, and what’s the career path or a lean/agile coach.

We presented the role to the whole organisation to find volunteers for the role. We developed a self-assessment radar to help volunteers measure their fitness to the role. We had mentoring session with volunteers, to discuss the role and define a personal growth path. We used the radars also during the job interview. And we started a community of practice of lean/agile coaches, to growth internal coaches and all those interested into becoming a coach.

During the last two years Carlo and I continued to use the tools and approaches with developed back then, in other organisations to recruit and grow other lean/agile coaches, with positive feedback.

[Carlo] Luca said it all 🙂 We are sharing a story from the dancefloor (I like this analogy more than “the trenches” :-P). And a couple of tools that we crafted, “to scratch our own itches”. And some tips.

3. In 140 characters describe a…

Luca: In 140 characters describe a good agile coach

A good lean/agile coach inspire you to become the best you can be, achieve your full potential and go beyond what you thought was possible

Carlo: In 140 characters describe a bad agile coach

A bad agile coach does not know what he is doing. A very bad agile coach pretends he does.

4. Which sessions are you looking forward to seeing while you’re at Agile Tour London?

[Luca] There are four tracks to choose from, and lots of great sessions. I’m currently oriented toward two double sessions:

I’ll use the time during the second to last session to focus on and prepare for Carlo’s and mine presentation, that will be the last of the day.

[Carlo] I am Italian, I like to go and clap fellow Italian agilists … 🙂 so …

  • Mattia on metrics (I’ve seen this session before, it’s such a good, concrete one!)
  • Maurizio, on estimates (and lies 🙂

Also, industry leaders whose talks I’ve watched online yet never live – Marcano and Forss.

 5.     What else is on your radar for this year; any conferences, events, books etc.?

[Luca] I recently started my own company that helps organisations to improve their way of working, to adopt modern approaches such as lean and agile, and to grow their internal lean/agile coaching capability. That is taking lot of energy for me this year.
Another thing that is on my radar is to give back to the community. I’ll put some effort into spreading the word on the lean/agile coach role, and the related competency framework from Lyssa and Michael. I’ll also help others interested into lean/agile coaching using the lean/agile coaching self-assessment radars for personal development and continuous improvement.

Some books I read recently and I feel to recommend:

  • Dreams from my father, a story of race and inheritance. Obama, Barack. 2008
  • Long walk to freedom, the autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Mandela, Nelson. 1995
  • Coaching for Performance, Growing People, Performance and Purpose. Whitmore, John. 2002

[Carlo] I chair the Italian Agile Days, so this, since a few years, is the “big November thing” for me. (Sorry, we are sold out :). I have run out of budget for trainings for 2016 (thanks Adventures with Agile for the wonderful Coaching Agile Teams 3.0 and Certified Less Practitioners!). I am currently reading Eric Ries’ The Leader’s Guide.

Lloyd Jones

I’m an Agile Coach and a former a software architect. Outside of work my interests are travel, snowboarding, video games and cooking.