Coach Aikido: Lessons and support for abused coaches in hostile environments.

room: Regency B — time: Thursday 14:45-15:30, Thursday 14:00-14:45
Level: Practicing

A participatory workshop where coaches can share their experiences in coaching agile teams in hostile environments, what they did to avoid the pain, and how they turned toxic organizational inertia and attack against itself or circumvented the same to realize more agility. The session will be facilitated and will be oriented around capturing tricks, tips, and techniques, but will also allow for some sobbing and frustration and ranting. Epic fails are definitely welcome. The most sought after stories and ideas will be those which use the opposition’s own strength to advance the effort.


This is very simple - participatory discussion facilitated (talking squishy toy provided) by Christian Gruber. The organization of topics will roughly be:

  • Hostile culture
  • Hostile stake-holders/managers
  • Hostile environments
  • Hostile infrastructure
  • Hostile customers
  • Hostile teams

Discussions will focus on specific accounts of hostility per the above topics (as prioritized). Long war stories aren’t the goal, but the facilitator(s) will encourage brevity in the example and context, and try to bring people to the open question or solution. Also, the facilitator(s) will attempt to invoke lessons from the other participants not involved in the given story, in a “fresh eyes” approach. The organization of the material and interactions will depend on the size of the group participating. We’ll keep discussion to small-group dynamics levels (7+/-2), breaking the whole into smaller groups depending on scale. This list will be prioritized by each group, and examples, stories, and ideas will be discussed and captured. The timeline of the session will roughly be as follows:

  • 15 mins: Introduction to the session and participants, with overview of approach and perspective
  • 10 mins: Break into groups and vote on the most important topics
  • 20 mins: Initial discussions based on each group’s highest-priority topic
  • 5 mins: break
  • 20 mins: Discussion based on each group’s second and third-highest priority topic

If a large group shows (and we break into smaller groups)

  • 10-20 mins: report from each group
  • 0-10 mins: final comments

If it’s a small group, so we stay as one group

  • 20 mins: final comments

The learnings will be captured on whiteboards and sticky-notes, and will be collated and published after the conference online. Additionally, if appropriate, a yahoo or google group (or the like) will be created to continue unfinished discussion and foment further community among the participating coaches. Think of it as a burnt-out-coaches’ support group with focus.

Learning outcomes
  • How to avoid crossing the limit from change-agent to fired
  • Approaches to converting the unconvertable
  • Ways and means to overcome organizational inertia on behalf of teams
  • Creation of stronger bonds between “compatriots in the trenches”
Featured participants
Primary target persona