A good degree of self-learning is expected out of every individual being coached during Agile Adoption. Without it, individuals cannot move through the various stages of learning as presented by the Dreyfus Model. An Agile Coach should pair on tasks with individuals but this approach is limited by team size: one-on-one attention cannot be given for extended durations of time. After all, an Agile Coach operates differently from a Personal Trainer.

An Agile Coach will usually focus on providing the building blocks, and then set the individual on the path of self-learning. Instead of spoon-feeding answers, the coach will use effective questioning to guide the individual to come up with their own reasonable conclusions. This is an application of what is widely known as Socratic Method.

Additionally what I follow is the Princeton Model of learning:

Princeton Model

  • 70% of skills adoption comes from real work done on the ground. I pair with individuals on their project work, and such individuals, in turn, pair with others.
  • 20% of skills building happens via workshops, sessions, and demos. Workshops are typically run by me or other invited experts. Demos and knowledge-sharing brown bag sessions are conducted regularly by the team members themselves, mostly as show-and-tell.
  • 10% of skills exposure happens via reading. Links to relevant articles and blogs, along with book recommendations, are shared via mailing lists or wiki pages.
Challenges vs Skills
Graph introduced to me by Jules Parry

You can force self-learning by throwing challenges at the team. They will usually cope by upgrading their skill levels.

If an individual is dealing with challenges that are underwhelming, not needing the full extent of existing skills, the individual gets bored or complacent. In the face of overwhelming challenges, an individual will experience some frustration or stress, and will either try to reduce the challenges or will learn skills appropriate to overcome the challenges. If steered toward the latter behaviour, the person grows in competence.

These were some effective approaches to encourage self-learning during active coaching. The process may lead some individuals down the path to self-discovery.

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