Strategic Coaching Helps a Struggling Agile Program Get Back on Track

Dilemma

A telecom company based in France had an existing but ineffective Agile program running for five years already. Its over 90 actors spread across eight teams were seeing sinking metrics, which could result in a drop in support and funding for their project. 

The Agile program needed to be fixed and refined. However, it had proved to be challenging as there was friction not only among the teams (which all thought their Agile practices were better than the others) but also among roles (disagreements among support, developers, product owners, and scrum masters were commonplace) and hierarchical lines. The need for addressing intricate legacy software services also made the situation even more difficult. 

Despite the complicated situation, the goal was simple. They needed to get their project ROI back in the black. 

Solution and Approach

It was clear that a breakthrough strategy was needed to turn the situation around. Not only that, we also needed to find a way to make the teams work together and create an effective collaborative effort to deliver value. To achieve this, strategic coaching and agile coaching were provided.

  1. Program directors and heads of divisions were given Change Management Coaching, which was inspired by Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model. This model focuses on helping leaders develop a culture of urgency, create and execute a vision, eliminate obstacles, and build on successes to create new opportunities for growth.
  2. Strategic coaching and agile management coaching were also given to managers and team leaders. There were bi-weekly coaching sessions designed to help them steer their teams to become high performers. Additionally, workshops on strategic planning and follow-ups were also conducted. 
  3. Agile coaching was also designed specifically to help Scrum Masters and Product Owners step up their game. The coaching sessions involved reviewing Agile rituals and practices based on a team’s needs such as retrospective meetings, planning, and story mapping. We also introduced sharper Agile tools and practices such as proper facilitation, roles and responsibilities workshops, and advanced retrospective techniques. Aside from these, common Agile misconceptions and myths were also dispelled.

Success Story

45 days of coaching over a period of six months and yearly follow-ups for two years yielded the following results:

  • The program was back on track and out of the red state after only a year.
  • A culture of continuous and dynamic improvement was established within the organisation.
  • Hierarchy lines were also clarified and became more streamlined. Teams were also restructured as Feature Teams, which meant that they are now cross-functional and capable of helping scale up Agile development. Additionally, Product Owners also learned to work hand in hand with their teams to ensure the quality of the development process.