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How many coaches required to make agile stick?

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  • agladman
    I ve been using the agile approach on my projects for over 8 years now and my organisation is really starting to want more teams to get the benefit. One way we
    Message 1 of 11 , Aug 25, 2010
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      I've been using the agile approach on my projects for over 8 years now and my organisation is really starting to want more teams to get the benefit. One way we intend to go about this is to appoint full time coaches within the organisation as without a coach, a team new to agile could well flounder and give up.

      So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.

      Thanks
      Alan
    • Steven Smith
      I ve done some coaching myself, though usually in a consulting role. I m sure there s a lot of variability in the answer, as things will depend on the
      Message 2 of 11 , Aug 25, 2010
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        I've done some coaching myself, though usually in a consulting role. I'm
        sure there's a lot of variability in the answer, as things will depend on
        the projects, teams, and coaches involved and their relative needs,
        experience levels, etc. But for a team of 10 people new to agile, you would
        likely want the coach to be full-time on the team and pairing with people
        for best results. If at least some members of the team are experienced with
        agile, which in a large organization you can achieve with some
        cross-pollination from existing teams using agile, then the coach could jump
        between teams and probably manage to keep up with 2 or at most 3 teams, I
        would think. I haven't done this myself, but that's what seems feasible, at
        least.

        Hope that helps,
        Steve

        --
        http://NimblePros.com - Agile Software Development. Delivered
        http://SteveSmithBlog.com


        On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:23 AM, agladman <alan.gladman@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        > I've been using the agile approach on my projects for over 8 years now and
        > my organisation is really starting to want more teams to get the benefit.
        > One way we intend to go about this is to appoint full time coaches within
        > the organisation as without a coach, a team new to agile could well flounder
        > and give up.
        >
        > So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects
        > or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal
        > coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.
        >
        > Thanks
        > Alan
        >
        >
        >



        --
        Steve Smith
        http://SteveSmithBlog.com/
        http://twitter.com/ardalis


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Michael Hill
        Steve... It entirely depends on the pace we want to set, and the difficulty of the learning and/or change curve. My greatest hits have come from working with
        Message 3 of 11 , Aug 25, 2010
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          Steve...

          It entirely depends on the pace we want to set, and the difficulty of the
          learning and/or change curve.

          My greatest hits have come from working with just a dozen people,
          day-in/day-out for at least a month. On the other hand, I've worked with
          teams of 100 or so, solo coaching, that were not failures.

          As an external coach, I always live with a lower standard than internal
          coaches can: I just want to help geeks produce. On some teams, that means
          all of XP+all we've learned since then. On others, that means teaching basic
          programming.

          All of which, I spoze, isn't a very good answer.

          I prefer to run transitions in the half-on-half-off sit-in-your-own-lap
          perfectly-slow way. Here and the two articles after it:
          http://anarchycreek.com/2010/03/09/half-and-half-in-agile-transition/

          In that pattern, it takes about eight weeks to get one team <30 enough
          momentum that they take off by themselves. That's an experienced coach
          talking.

          For your purposes, I guess I'd say something like 1 coach to 20 developers.
          I'd also say you'll want those coaches to spend time in coach-the-coach
          activities.

          Hope that rambling helps, but please follow-up if not...

          GeePawHill
          <mike.hill@...>
          @GeePawHill


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Phlip
          ... Over 8 years, with promiscuous pairing, you should have soaked everyone yourself. Or unless if...
          Message 4 of 11 , Aug 25, 2010
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            agladman wrote:

            > I've been using the agile approach on my projects for over 8 years now and
            > my organisation is really starting to want more teams to get the benefit.
            > One way we intend to go about this is to appoint full time coaches within
            > the organisation as without a coach, a team new to agile could well
            > flounder and give up.
            >
            > So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects
            > or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal
            > coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.

            Over 8 years, with promiscuous pairing, you should have soaked everyone
            yourself.

            Or unless if...
          • agladman
            Thanks Steve, that s useful input.
            Message 5 of 11 , Aug 26, 2010
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              Thanks Steve, that's useful input.

              --- In extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com, Steven Smith <ssmith.lists@...> wrote:
              >
              > I've done some coaching myself, though usually in a consulting role. I'm
              > sure there's a lot of variability in the answer, as things will depend on
              > the projects, teams, and coaches involved and their relative needs,
              > experience levels, etc. But for a team of 10 people new to agile, you would
              > likely want the coach to be full-time on the team and pairing with people
              > for best results. If at least some members of the team are experienced with
              > agile, which in a large organization you can achieve with some
              > cross-pollination from existing teams using agile, then the coach could jump
              > between teams and probably manage to keep up with 2 or at most 3 teams, I
              > would think. I haven't done this myself, but that's what seems feasible, at
              > least.
              >
              > Hope that helps,
              > Steve
              >
              > --
              > http://NimblePros.com - Agile Software Development. Delivered
              > http://SteveSmithBlog.com
              >
              >
              > On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:23 AM, agladman <alan.gladman@...> wrote:
              >
              > >
              > >
              > > I've been using the agile approach on my projects for over 8 years now and
              > > my organisation is really starting to want more teams to get the benefit.
              > > One way we intend to go about this is to appoint full time coaches within
              > > the organisation as without a coach, a team new to agile could well flounder
              > > and give up.
              > >
              > > So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects
              > > or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal
              > > coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.
              > >
              > > Thanks
              > > Alan
              > >
              > >
              > >
              >
              >
              >
              > --
              > Steve Smith
              > http://SteveSmithBlog.com/
              > http://twitter.com/ardalis
              >
              >
              > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              >
            • D.André Dhondt
              ... Just to throw another number out there--it s often the case that to learn TDD in a legacy environment, for example, that you ll need 1 experienced TDDer
              Message 6 of 11 , Aug 28, 2010
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                On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:23 AM, agladman <alan.gladman@...> wrote:

                > So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects
                > or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal
                > coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.
                >
                Just to throw another number out there--it's often the case that to learn
                TDD in a legacy environment, for example, that you'll need 1 experienced
                TDDer for every existing developer. So that could be 1 : 1 ratios until
                you've got some of the hottest parts of the code covered by safety
                harnesses. If you're ok waiting for teams to self-organize themselves
                towards better coding practices, you can do one coach for 10 or 20
                people--but it takes longer.

                --
                D. André Dhondt
                mobile: 215-805-0819
                twitter: adhondt http://dhondtsayitsagile.blogspot.com/

                Support low-cost conferences -- http://AgileTour.org/
                If you're in the area, join Agile Philly http://www.AgilePhilly.com


                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • George Dinwiddie
                André, ... That s a good point, but I think it s still a maybe. If you can build sufficient desire to learn TDD on the part of the developers, then it
                Message 7 of 11 , Aug 29, 2010
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                  André,

                  On 8/29/10 12:12 AM, D.André Dhondt wrote:
                  > On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:23 AM, agladman<alan.gladman@...> wrote:
                  >
                  >> So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects
                  >> or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal
                  >> coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.
                  >>
                  > Just to throw another number out there--it's often the case that to learn
                  > TDD in a legacy environment, for example, that you'll need 1 experienced
                  > TDDer for every existing developer. So that could be 1 : 1 ratios until
                  > you've got some of the hottest parts of the code covered by safety
                  > harnesses. If you're ok waiting for teams to self-organize themselves
                  > towards better coding practices, you can do one coach for 10 or 20
                  > people--but it takes longer.

                  That's a good point, but I think it's still a "maybe." If you can build
                  sufficient desire to learn TDD on the part of the developers, then it
                  certainly won't take as many coaches and they will learn about as fast.
                  If you can't build any desire, then no amount of coaches will overcome it.

                  "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect
                  wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long
                  for the endless immensity of the sea." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery /Wind,
                  Sand and Stars/

                  - George

                  --
                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                  * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                  Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                  Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                  ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                • Jeff Anderson
                  This answer imho really depends on your environment. I ve been in some IT organizations where the developers are literally shell shocked, getting them to be
                  Message 8 of 11 , Aug 31, 2010
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                    This answer imho really depends on your environment.

                    I've been in some IT organizations where the developers are literally
                    shell shocked, getting them to be passionate about high quality work
                    was really challenging, 1 over all coach and 2 technical coaches for a
                    team of 10-12 felt right.

                    Another situation we had a reuse team that treated other teams as
                    customers we had 2 coaches for a team of 40, and it was easy, we had
                    all these components that we knew inside out so it was easy to get
                    "inside" developers work and teach them agile approaches by example.



                    On 8/29/10, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
                    > André,
                    >
                    > On 8/29/10 12:12 AM, D.André Dhondt wrote:
                    >> On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:23 AM, agladman<alan.gladman@...> wrote:
                    >>
                    >>> So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to projects
                    >>> or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing formal
                    >>> coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.
                    >>>
                    >> Just to throw another number out there--it's often the case that to learn
                    >> TDD in a legacy environment, for example, that you'll need 1 experienced
                    >> TDDer for every existing developer. So that could be 1 : 1 ratios until
                    >> you've got some of the hottest parts of the code covered by safety
                    >> harnesses. If you're ok waiting for teams to self-organize themselves
                    >> towards better coding practices, you can do one coach for 10 or 20
                    >> people--but it takes longer.
                    >
                    > That's a good point, but I think it's still a "maybe." If you can build
                    > sufficient desire to learn TDD on the part of the developers, then it
                    > certainly won't take as many coaches and they will learn about as fast.
                    > If you can't build any desire, then no amount of coaches will overcome it.
                    >
                    > "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect
                    > wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long
                    > for the endless immensity of the sea." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery /Wind,
                    > Sand and Stars/
                    >
                    > - George
                    >
                    > --
                    > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                    > * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                    > Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                    > Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                    > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                    >
                    >

                    --
                    Sent from my mobile device

                    Jeff Anderson

                    http://agileconsulting.blogspot.com/
                  • John Goodsen
                    Isn t the answer always 42 ? On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 9:55 AM, Jeff Anderson
                    Message 9 of 11 , Aug 31, 2010
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                      Isn't the answer always 42 ?

                      On Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 9:55 AM, Jeff Anderson <
                      Thomasjeffreyandersontwin@...> wrote:

                      > This answer imho really depends on your environment.
                      >
                      > I've been in some IT organizations where the developers are literally
                      > shell shocked, getting them to be passionate about high quality work
                      > was really challenging, 1 over all coach and 2 technical coaches for a
                      > team of 10-12 felt right.
                      >
                      > Another situation we had a reuse team that treated other teams as
                      > customers we had 2 coaches for a team of 40, and it was easy, we had
                      > all these components that we knew inside out so it was easy to get
                      > "inside" developers work and teach them agile approaches by example.
                      >
                      >
                      >
                      > On 8/29/10, George Dinwiddie <lists@...> wrote:
                      > > André,
                      > >
                      > > On 8/29/10 12:12 AM, D.André Dhondt wrote:
                      > >> On Wed, Aug 25, 2010 at 5:23 AM, agladman<alan.gladman@...>
                      > wrote:
                      > >>
                      > >>> So I'm wondering what the magic number is in terms of coaches to
                      > projects
                      > >>> or coaches to employees. If anybody has experience of introducing
                      > formal
                      > >>> coaching into their organisation I'd be interested to hear from them.
                      > >>>
                      > >> Just to throw another number out there--it's often the case that to
                      > learn
                      > >> TDD in a legacy environment, for example, that you'll need 1 experienced
                      > >> TDDer for every existing developer. So that could be 1 : 1 ratios until
                      > >> you've got some of the hottest parts of the code covered by safety
                      > >> harnesses. If you're ok waiting for teams to self-organize themselves
                      > >> towards better coding practices, you can do one coach for 10 or 20
                      > >> people--but it takes longer.
                      > >
                      > > That's a good point, but I think it's still a "maybe." If you can build
                      > > sufficient desire to learn TDD on the part of the developers, then it
                      > > certainly won't take as many coaches and they will learn about as fast.
                      > > If you can't build any desire, then no amount of coaches will overcome
                      > it.
                      > >
                      > > "If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people together to collect
                      > > wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long
                      > > for the endless immensity of the sea." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery /Wind,
                      > > Sand and Stars/
                      > >
                      > > - George
                      > >
                      > > --
                      > > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                      > > * George Dinwiddie * http://blog.gdinwiddie.com
                      > > Software Development http://www.idiacomputing.com
                      > > Consultant and Coach http://www.agilemaryland.org
                      > > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
                      > >
                      > >
                      >
                      > --
                      > Sent from my mobile device
                      >
                      > Jeff Anderson
                      >
                      > http://agileconsulting.blogspot.com/
                      >
                      >
                      > ------------------------------------
                      >
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                      --
                      John Goodsen RADSoft / Better Software Faster
                      jgoodsen@... Lean/Agile/XP/Scrum Coaching and Training
                      http://www.radsoft.com Ruby on Rails and Java Solutions


                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Tim Ottinger
                      The _immediate_ answer is always it depends , but ultimately 42 once the context expands (as it generally does) to life, the universe, and everything. Tim
                      Message 10 of 11 , Aug 31, 2010
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                        The _immediate_ answer is always "it depends", but ultimately "42" once the
                        context expands

                        (as it generally does) to life, the universe, and everything.


                        Tim Ottinger
                        http://agileinaflash.blogspot.com/
                        http://agileotter.blogspot.com/
                      • JeffGrigg
                        ... Answers: 1. How many are available? [contracting company s perspective] 2. How many can you afford? [contracting company s perspective] 3. Add to taste
                        Message 11 of 11 , Sep 1, 2010
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                          --- Tim Ottinger <linux_tim@...> wrote:
                          > The _immediate_ answer is always "it depends", but ultimately
                          > "42" once the context expands

                          Answers:

                          1. How many are available?
                          [contracting company's perspective]

                          2. How many can you afford?
                          [contracting company's perspective]

                          3. "Add to taste" -- a recipe for success
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