Thursday, September 11, 2008

Improve yourself...

In a few weeks I transition from coaching our tech group within agile values, principles and practices, to training the "product" groups on many of the same concepts and starting to fold them into the agile culture. I realized pretty quickly that it was a good time to reflect on my past two years and think hard about how I approach this effort. Rather than easing into it, we're taking a more formal approach... and as a coach, I need to get along with people as I spend more time with them than I have in the past.

So, time for a personal retrospective.

At the end of a team retrospective I facilitate each month, I handed 3*5 cards out to each member of the tech team and asked them to honestly and brutally tell me at least one good thing and one bad thing about me. They looked at me funny, but after I explained why I needed this they asked for several more cards (funny, ha, ha).

What I got back was insightful. I'll spare you the 34 individual comments and share the most common:
  • good: you don't inflict change
  • good: you hear our concerns and adapt, you don't force us to do it by the book
  • good: you presented the philosophies behind it instead of telling us just to do it
  • bad: you talk to fast and cram in too much
  • bad: you sometimes try to hard to help people and step on their toes in the process
There were many other insightful comments including the humorous remarks of my nerdiness, male pattern baldness, etc.

What's my point?

I'm proud of the fact that these people trust and respect me enough to give me honest feedback. I'm proud of myself for asking for it even if I felt like hiding in the corner as they scribbled on cards. I hope I have the guts to absorb this feedback and improve my coaching skills.

Peer reviews can be an amazing way to improve yourself if you are open to changing.

Do you have the guts to try it?

"No matter the circumstances you can always improve. You can always start improving with yourself. You can always start improving today." - Kent Beck


  1. Right on brother. Possibly life's most important lessons.

    Although, my wife doesn't always agree when I'm following her around the kitchen suggesting better ways to slice the onions in the name of "self improvement". Drives her nuts, as it should.

    Anyway, glad to see you "out here", I'll be watching. Cheers.

  2. We are on the same wavelength!

    As proponents of agile/lean, we developed a new agile solution, Rypple, for personal feedback management.

    Anyone "who has the guts" can use the service to get brief, specific, and private feedback from co-workers so as to truly understand "how they are doing". And because the responses you receive do not include the name of the person providing it, you get the honest feedback you are looking for.

  3. Link to Rhypple if you are interested, I'm checking it out myself: