Focused Agile Coaching. What Have We Missed?

I'm working on a new book and a package of thinking tools for ScrumMasters.

The goal is to disrupt the definition of what we call "ScrumMaster". Bring it to the next level. And return it finally back home where it belongs.

Working as a full-time ScrumMaster in three different organizations in my career I know how unfair and unappreciated it can feel at times. 

So my bold goal with this work is to reset the definition for ScrumMastership. Bring it back to how it was originally thought of by the Scrum visionaries and how it is played in a very few truly agile organizations.

We need more visionaries in this role, not just low-level impediment removers and post-it secretaries.

I'm developing thinking tools. They can help drive ideation, co-creation and articulation of strong visions of the future that we - the ScrumMaster - should be leading out teams and enterprises with.

Stay tuned and support my work by showing your interest:

I've written a lot recently on the topic of retrospectives, have even published a mini-book on designing and facilitating retrospectives. That's an important skill to acquire as we Agile Coaches and ScrumMaster are the servant leaders. Facilitation is one way of serving...


But what about the leading part. That's what this work is about.



Quite a few articles, posts and tweets on this topic recently crossed my information space. I've also run a community of practice for agile coaches for a year in a company hearing many stories and whining from other ScrumMasters...


My bottom-line is that we've been born unwanted to this world.

So I ask myself: how come such a powerful concept could have such a poor implementation?



We all want to find a real product champion for our teams and products. Mainly all, if not all, the definitions of Product Owner describing a person with a strong vision of success, inspiring the teams and radiating the dreams of the future. I agree.


On the other hand, I don't remember seeing a definition of ScrumMaster mentioning similar terminology, though. I'd like to fix that. And right now:

ScrumMaster / Agile Coach is a multi-faceted role of a person leading an organization on the learning path to becoming (more) agile.


She can be recognized by her attitude and style: rich collaboration, strong belief in the agile values, encouragement of others to lead. 


Facilitation and coaching are her untiring tools of action. 

This role implies having a strong vision of "there is a better place" combined with a compassionate empathy to the people who are on the journey. (I'm known among the teams I've worked to have the former...)


The pair of vision/empathy creates the voltage, while coaching/facilitation is the wire. Her experience/beliefs  are the current that make agile coaching function. All three are needed.



While there are exercises and dojos for mastering the toolset, classes and workshops for acquiring the attitude. Teaching the vision aspect seems to be close to impossible. Either you have it or not.

Still I think that's the most needed set of skills these days for our ScrumMaster community.


The currently observable trend is seeing ScrumMasters as post-it junkies and ceremony secretaries proves this ubiquitously. That's a spoiler. ScrumMaster was initially seen as a company of change. The agent of the future. The guide on the way.


But in order to guide, one needs to see where he is going. It's called visioning. "But where can I get it from?" - one asks. "From within." - the master whispers.


As Product Owners are the visionaries and co-producers of the products and business impact, ScrumMasters are the visionaries and co-producers of the working processes and working environment impact.


So the same way our Product Owners and product managers work with visions: 

  1. knowing the problem- by going down to study the markets
  2. envisioning the future - by going up for an integral view using canvases and other tools
  3. making it real - going further with release planning and constant plans re-adjustments

Apparently we've taught and mentored our Product Owners so intensively that we've missed this parallel.


So can we use the same tools Product Owners do? 

All these nice canvases, user story mapping, release slicing techniques, progress tracking charts, acceptance testing... there are quite a few things out there to support product visioning on many levels.


The short answer is yes, we can use similar tools.

The longer answer is in the book being written: Focused Agile Coaching.

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