What’s in your coaching tool kit?

What’s in your coaching tool kit?

Once you get past the metaphorical answers; depending on the type of coach you ask you will get a common set of answers. A sports coach generally has a whistle, stopwatch, athletic tape, and a few sport specific items. A life coach may have some assessment forms. Most Agile coaches immediately reach for their stickies & markers (does anyone still call them Post-Its?).

I often hear the answer, The quintessential list of 500 Powerful Questions, but none could pull this out of their briefcase when asked. Although I have assembled a list shy of 100 questions, I don’t cary mine with me either.

Having the right tool for the job is essential. Improvisation and necessity may get the job done, but … 

If you don’t have a personal coaching tool kit I strongly encourage you to start assembling one. Start with one or two simple familiar tools. Build your collection over time. 

What do I cary in my tool kit?

My tool kit fits into a sandwich size ziplock and is as versatile as a Swiss Army knife.

  • First, money talks, so I cary $1,000,000 in assorted (play) currency. Can you put a $ value on…? 
  • I have several card decks:
    • A deck of 12 story cards from the Human Side of Tech This is my mini version of powerful questions.
    • A couple decks of Moving Motivators, Delegation Poker, and a deck of Improv cards from Management 3.0  Each of these have multiple uses with individuals and/or teams.
  • My go to manipulative, as a Lego Serious Play facilitator, is an LSP window kit (ask, build, tell, reflect). This is the best tool I have found for getting traction with complex problems. What is your superpower?

I cary all of this in a Quart size ziplock in my briefcase.

Here is the important catch. If you are going to cary a tool, be sure you know how and when to use it. I cary these physical tools with me. BUT, just because I have them does not mean I always use them. In any coaching situation I first and foremost rely on my skills, and years of training and experience. I don’t let my tool kit become a crutch or a premature shortcut. I reach for these tools only when they are the right tools to help my client move forward.

What’s in your tool kit (and how do you use it)?    

Driving Value with OKRs

Product Owners, Product Sponsors, and Project/Product Leads are you ready to double down on driving value? Our roadmap prioritization is value based. Our messaging markets our value. By solving customer problems and developing products and services we deliver value.

To ensure we are able to understand, capture, and track the value of the work we do we have enlisted several tools to communicate value and align efforts with value. Three specific tools we use intended to keep us value-focused and aligned are the Lean Canvas, the Goal-Oriented Roadmap, and User Stories. Each of these tools, used properly, allow aligned value to emerge throughout the product development process and in turn improve our overall performance.

To capitalize on the benefit these tools are designed to deliver, we need to use them appropriately. To maximize alignment our value proposition should be captured in the three tools based on “Objectives and Key Results” (OKRs), think KPIs on steroids.

Lean Canvas:  Many organizations, at the early stage of project/product development, create a Lean Canvas (or Business Model Canvas). The Lean Canvas first and foremost should capture the Why, identifying the problem to be solved. Our default process may be to skip this overarching question and dive directly into our solution. Failing to understand the problem first significantly reduces our potential value proposition. Proper use of the Lean Canvas should capture the Why / Value proposition in three areas:

  • Problem Description
  • Business Value
  • Goals/Metrics

The value captured is not meant to be a bulleted list. It should be an aspirational qualitative statement that guides and aligns all future efforts. Likewise Goals & Metrics should provide specific quantitative success criteria of the value to be delivered. Use OKRs to target bold goals and measurement of value.

Goal Oriented Roadmap:  Throughout our Agile project lifecycle we plan and execute against a Goal-Oriented Roadmap. The “Goal” (Why/Value) drives the roadmap. The Goal should describe the benefits and value alignment for all work to be executed within the timebox. Applying OKRs to the Goal in the Agile Goal-Oriented Roadmap affords shorter cycles and rapid adjustment to change while reducing risk and promoting innovation. Again this is not a bulleted list, but a clear, aligned, and aspirational directive.

User Stories:  The work of our Agile teams is driven by User Stories provided, usually, by the Product Owner. Good User Stories are value-based and results-focused, not technical and task driven. Completing tasks without delivering value is not success. When writing User Stories, a Hypothesis-Driven approach  We believe if we do (__X__), we will meet objective (__y__), which can be measured by (__z__) — will create Value-based User Stories, driving delivery of value not just completion of tasks.

The chain of completing Value-based User Stories to deliver features that support our roadmap goals, allow us to successfully deliver innovative products that solve our customers problems as defined by our Lean Canvas. Following this framework provides a definition of value that can be tracked and quantified from project inception to completion. 

About OKRs:  Objectives and Key Results are used to align and track objectives and outcomes. The main goal of OKRs is to connect organizations, teams, and individuals to generate movement in the same direction with measurable results. There is a wealth of information available on the web addressing OKR’s. I would recommend starting here with the OKR Guide.  

How will you you use OKRs to successfully drive Value?