Reena Thomas - Forced or Spontaneous Change?

What is the background situation/context for your probe?

After having worked with Agile teams for over a decade, it is my belief that you cannot force agility on anyone or any team. Some teams might think that this is some kind of coerced ritual that is a waste of time, there are others who are in awe of the Agile methodologies and in many ways, happier. How then can you ensure spontaneity or rather uncoerced change?

What is (or has been) your hypothesis?

Success in bringing about change could be a daunting task but in reality it depends on one key point: acceptance. Acceptance of change comes naturally to a few but not all. In such situations, it is important to understand what you as a leader can do, to ensure change, willingly, without forcing an acceptance for change. It is imperative for leaders to understand what makes people tick. Here are a few aspects of leadership which can help introspect on what kind of leader you are and what YOU can do, to bring about change in an unforced way in your organisation or team.

What is the experiment you would like to run (or you have run) and how can this experiment validate or invalidate your hypothesis?

Consider 2 teams, with people of varied levels of experience in each team. 


-Give them the mandate that they have to change their ways of working and adopt the agile ways

-Tell them that they need to have scrum meetings every morning, have retrospectives, demos, reviews etc etc. and that you would like to see this happening like clockwork because this is what Agile is about

-Also, ask for progress reports, updated dashboards etc

-You also need to appoint a scrum master

-Give them piece of work to work. E.g: develop a feature you picked out for them


-Explain to them, that we want to bring about a change:

  • to improve productivity
  • to get things done faster
  • bring about accountability, and happiness (both can co-exist you know ;) )

Give them a few tips:

-They identify what problems can be solved or worth solving and what can be changed. 

- How can they contribute towards this change?

-Are there some ceremonies that they do not value and why? E.g: I have nothing valuable to provide in a retrospective meeting. Brainstorm alternatives, and come to a conclusion on what is agreeable to all. How can they come up with a workable solution?

-They pick a feature from the backlog (business need, of course) which they can deliver

-More importantly, convey this: "YOU trust them"

Over a period of time, who do you think, not only changed but also got the job done?

Team 2 (in all probability), and why is that?

-You let them decide, what has to be changed because they are adults and capable of decision making (even if it is not always the best)

-You let them make the decisions, while you steer the way. E.g: who the scrum master could be or what feature to pick (hopefully they have a few choices). 

-You let them fail sometimes

-Last but not the least, you do not breath down their neck but "You trust them!" 

Retrospect on what kind of leader you are: Are you dictatorial or do you empower?

Of course, you don't want anarchy and you might feel the need to control, but sometimes letting go can make all the difference between forced and spontaneous change!

Is there a specific skill/technique you would like to learn/explore at this coach camp?

Agile in large cross site teams

Call for Papers CLOSED
Ended on Jan 25 '20 05:29 AM IST

Interested in attending the Agile Coach Camp on Oct 11th in Bengaluru? Read on...

It's been 12 Years and almost 110 viral Agile Coach Camps since our very first coach camp experiment. This year, Coach Camp co-creator Naresh Jain along with Jutta Eckstein and John Buck will lead participants in this Coach Camp in Bangalore, organized as part of the Agile India 2020 Conference.

Coach Camp Theme

As a coach, you're often the one who needs to drive and sustain change. Yet, how do you do this? What has helped and hindered you doing so and how can you best pass your experience on to other coaches or how can you best learn from other coaches?

This is the theme for this year's coach camp. To tackle this challenge, we invite you to try something new:

  • Currently, we face the following situation: Constantly driving change is getting more and more important for companies to survive in this VUCA world. At the same time, it is (or should be) the core skill of every coach – no matter if you coach individuals, teams, or organisations. However, sometimes it seems every coach has to come up with her own experience on how to drive change successfully.
  • Our hypothesis is that for driving change, every coach uses so-called probes, that are defined by small, safe-to-fail experiments based on hypotheses derived from reflection on the current situation as well as on theory. So, probing allows discovering (based on the hypothesis) what's working and what is not through one or several experiments. This allows to make sense of both the current situation but even more important of the situation we are aiming for. And if we create a knowledge base of our collective wisdom on probes we used (or intend to use) we can learn from each other.
  • Therefore, as an experiment we want to invite this year's coach camp participants to jointly discover, share, create, improve, and finally publish probes that help(ed) driving and sustaining change. As in a typical coach camp, we will use the Open Space format to explore different topics for driving change and we invite you to use probes to focus the discussions on these different topics. We anticipate as a result that the discovered and created probes will provide a foundation for such a knowledge base.

Registering for the Coach Camp

The coach camp is free of charge (financially) yet, for registration we ask you for the following:

  • Please click on the Add Paper button and submit your position paper. In your position paper, you will be asked to share an idea for a probe, consisting of a background situation (context), a hypothesis, and an experiment. This can be a probe you've implemented before, one you've discovered/heard of others implementing it, or you intend to implement. The probe should focus on the coach camp's theme: Driving Change.
  • The discussed probes provide a basis for a free and publicly accessible knowledge base.

Final Note

Please note, we want to invite you to use probes for the discussion and recording of the Open Space sessions. This is by no means an enforcement. We are well aware that there might be situations where probes are not the right means for discussing or/and recording a particular topic - and that is of course fine. After all, using probes for this coach camp is a probe in itself (and we are open to possibly invalidate our hypothesis.)