location_city Bengaluru schedule Mar 28th 03:30 - 04:15 PM place Grand Ballroom 2

Having worked with multiple Agile teams, I realize that most problems the teams have to deal with are often related to issues that are beyond the scope of any Agile framework. These issues are often related to people and the surrounding eco-system. The success of any Agile implementation is largely dependent on this H(uman)-factor which is intrinsic to any team/organization. This H-factor has always been a pandora's box, that we would like to avoid owing to  the amount of complexity and the uncertainty involved.

Here is my humble effort to try and identify few common traits that I have observed with people across Agile teams and organizations. The idea here is not to stereotype people, but to present an approach/strategy to accommodate different kinds of people in an Agile eco-system.

In this talk, I would like to present 5 characters in a fictional story and the various strategies I have adopted to coach them.

After all one size doesn't fit all!


Outline/Structure of the Experience Report

  • Introduction (5 min)
  • Parent-Adult-Child Model (5 min)
  • OK-OK Quadrant (5 min)
  • Characters Based on OK-OK Quadrant and respective Coaching Strategies
    • Pragmatic Adult (5 min)
    • Perennial Cynic (5 min)
    • Distressed Damsel (5 min)
    • Insolent Genius (5 min)
  • Coaching the SELF (5 min)
  • Q/A (5 min)

Learning Outcome

  • General Understanding of recurring themes/issues 
  • Various Coaching Styles based on the situation
  • Tools based on NLP techniques

Target Audience

Agile Coaches, Scrum Masters and Managers

schedule Submitted 5 years ago

Public Feedback

comment Suggest improvements to the Speaker
  • Naresh Jain
    By Naresh Jain  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Thanks for the proposla Karthik. Can you please share what are the 5-Characters from an Agile Eco-System? Also can you explain with an example how learning these 5-characters will help me? If you've written about this somewhere, please share the link.

    • Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam
      By Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam  ~  4 years ago
      reply Reply

      Thanks Naresh.

      The first four character are based on Thomas Antony Harris's book ' I am OK, You are Ok'. The characters that I want to discuss are the software equivalent of the personality types described in this book.

      The four characters are, 

      • Pragmatic Adult
      • Perennial Cynic 
      • Distressed Damsel
      • Insolent Genius

      Each of these characters have certain positive and negative qualities which a coach or a scrum master could utilize for the benefit of the team. Like for example, ' Pragmatic Adult' is usually the kind of person who could make wise decisions in most circumstances and they are result oriented. They are the right candidate for any peer level influence that is expected during critical situations. In this case coach could use NLP (Neuro Linguistic Program) tools like '2 chair technique' or 'psychological contracts' to win the confidence of this particular team member. Likewise for each of these characters there are specific tools that the coach or the scrum master could use during their conversations and discussions. 

      Please note, the idea here is not to manipulate people or situation, but be aware of the surroundings and act accordingly. It is very important for a change agent to be observant of these details, which will help them immensely in wining the trust of the team.The fifth character is based on this awareness the coach or the scrum master would attain about themselves in the process. Tools like 'Butterfly Diagram' and 'Ego Gram' helps the coaches get a better understanding of their own behaviour.This would be of great help in understanding the needs of other four characters explained above.

      Most of these tools are easy to use or explain, however only through practice one could get better at it. In this presentation I will focus only on the preliminary tools (about 4-5 tools) which could be explained clearly in the given time frame.

      Please ask me if you need more clarification. I will also upload the basic presentation in a week's time.


      Thanks and Regards

      Karthik Kamal B


      • Pramod Sadalage
        By Pramod Sadalage  ~  5 years ago
        reply Reply



        Could I suggest an outline where you take the 5 characters and explain how to coach each one of them and how the team would deal with these characters and make them productive for the team.

        Then you can focus the session on what the attendees can take as learnings.

        Makes sense?

        • Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam
          By Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam  ~  5 years ago
          reply Reply

          Hi Pramod,

          Thanks for your feedback. That's what I had planned to cover under the 'Tools/Strategies' section, where I will elaborate on the strategies for different personalities/characters. Do you recommend that I restructure my outline to explicitly state each characters?

          Please let me know.


          Thanks and Regards

          Karthik Kamal B

          • Pramod Sadalage
            By Pramod Sadalage  ~  5 years ago
            reply Reply



            Yes thats what I was proposing so that the talk focuses on the characters and gives folks concrete ideas on how to deal with such characters.





  • Jerry Rajamoney
    By Jerry Rajamoney  ~  5 years ago
    reply Reply

    Hi Karthik,

    Thanks for the topic. I have one question. What is the relevance between the learning outcome and the title? Do you want to specifically keep the title provocative?

    • Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam
      By Karthik Kamal Balasubramaniam  ~  5 years ago
      reply Reply

      Hi Jerry,

      It's true that I definitely think of interesting titles for my topics. Many times it's oxymoronic in nature ;-)

      However, if I have to speak for this particular topic, I truly truly believe that it's not just an Agile story. Human elements and it's implications existed/will exist before or after Agile. Infact the outcomes of the session can be applied at both personal and professional context. 


      Thanks and Regards

      Karthik Kamal B



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    Experience Report

    Most Agile teams learn the ceremonies and other Agile jargons sooner than we could imagine.They add few meetings to their project execution and talk in a fancy language that would make us believe in Agile utopia. Everything seems fine and happy, until one day their happy bubble bursts and they realize that they are just 'doing' Agile and not 'being' Agile. One primary culprit here is that the teams often neglect their core technical practices and don't challenge their status quo. Which means they don't change anything about the way they design, code or test but just modify their management processes and await a miracle. There are three primary reason why we observe this Agile smell in most teams. It is believed that there are no immediate results in modifying these practices, its is hard to change the existing practice because of umpteen man-made reasons and finally no one knows where to begin their journey.

    Here in this talk I would like to address the third challenge and explain how a (non-technical) coach could pair with the team members on their day-to-day activities and help them initiate this journey. The focus of this presentation is on the do's and don'ts while pairing with the team members. It will also explain the benefits of this exercise.