Agile PM Process Grid–4.4 Coaching/Facilitation


In John Stenbeck’s book “PMI-ACP and Certified Scrum Professional Exam Prep and Desk Reference”, he creates an “agile project management process grid” which describes 87 processes used in agile project management.   These processes are divided into five process groups (Initiate, Plan, Iterate, Control, and Close), which are analogous to the five process groups in traditional project management, and seven knowledge areas which can be mapped, more or less, onto the ten knowledge areas in traditional project management.

The next block of three processes I am going to describe are those belonging to the “Team Performance” knowledge area (equivalent to the “HR Management” knowledge area in traditional PM) that are done during the Planning phase of the project.

Why is coaching and facilitation by outside consultants recommended in agile?   For two reasons:   first of all, the team needs to adapt to change rapidly, and having someone who is familiar with the process is helpful.    Secondly, since team members are co-equals, it is often helpful to have an outsider be the one to coax the team towards change, rather than one member of the team trying to do this for the sake of other team members.

There are four environments where formal coaching and facilitation are very important.

  1. Implementing eXtreme Programming (XP).   This is a highly disciplined agile framework, and having an experience coach and facilitator is helpful for the team to learn and master practices such as test-driven development.
  2. Scaling agile to the enterprise.   When transferring an agile framework from the level of the team to the level of the entire enterprise, an external coach can be helpful in onboarding agile with both teams and management.
  3. Conducting large retrospectives.   When the retrospective involves more than one team, or more than one product or even business unit, an external coach can guide how to conduct the meeting to cover such a large area in an effective and meaningful way.
  4. Having customers or senior management attend team meetings.   If customers, functional managers, or senior managers ask to attend a daily meeting or a retrospective, and they are new to agile practices, a coach is helpful to make them aware ahead of what the rules are allowable participation so that they do not derail the meeting.

In the next post, I cover process 4.5 Collaboration/Negotiation.

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