Three Product-Centric Challenges for Coaching Agile Teams

Use the following real-life inspired scenarios to role play and promote critical thinking.

Lisa Bradburn
Jan 16 · 6 min read
Creative perspective ;successful, strategic and hybrid thinking
Creative perspective ;successful, strategic and hybrid thinking
The creative perspective; strategic and hybrid thinking | Image By emerald_media, Shutterstock

Intent

We will examine three different scenarios inspired by common organizational challenges to address the above questions. The exercises intend to aid Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches in coaching, mentoring, facilitating, and educating Agile teams.

Audience

  • Agile Coaches
  • Product Owners
  • Business Analysts
  • Agile teams seeking to develop deeper client partnerships
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Blurry Code | Image By Who is Danny, Shutterstock

Scenario One — Technical Solutioning

Mary, a long-time employee at Acme Tech, was recently elevated to the role of Product Owner. She has inherited an older Health Check application and must solicit Caleb's feature requirements, an operational user known to have lofty ideas. When Mary and Caleb meet via video conferencing, Caleb informs Mary he can grant her 15 minutes of his time to discuss his big concept. Mary accepts Caleb’s offer, and he proceeds to jump into the new feature request, an e-thermometer, which he believes will revolutionize Health Check.

  1. Either role-play the scenario as presented with alternative endings or role-play from the start and reinvent the interaction flow.
  2. If role-playing is not a preferred method of exploration, use the below questions to assess and discover new outcomes.
  • Is Caleb considered a stakeholder?
  • What was the intent of the call? Was it clear? If not, how could Mary have made it clear?
  • How did the duration of the call impact the quality of Mary and Caleb’s conversation? What steps would you take in this situation?
  • When Mary realized Caleb was diving into solutions, what strategies could she have used to navigate the conversation to business value? (Shifting from the how to the what).
  • What can Peter do to support Mary?
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Value Cost Price Rate Spent | Image By Rawpixel.com, Shutterstock

Scenario Two — Increased Scope

Priya is a Business Analyst working for PACE, a telecom company seeking to digitalize its customer invoices. PACE is undergoing an Agile Transformation. Priya is shifting her mindset from capturing all business requirements upfront to writing short, value-driven user stories based on discrete and shippable work. Priya is in the middle of a demo with two stakeholders, Jenn, Client Success Director for direct to consumer, and Domenic, Client Success Manager for B2B. The following conversation unfolds.

  1. Either role-play the scenario as presented with alternative endings or role-play from the start and reinvent the interaction flow.
  2. Like the first scenario, if role-playing is not a preferred method of exploration, please discuss potential new outcomes using the below questions.
  • Do you identify with the feelings of wanting to accommodate stakeholders when they are in a higher position within the organization?
  • What are different communication strategies to ensure clients stay on topic and prevent scope creep?
  • If Priya moves ahead with the proposed changes and deviations from original requirements, what are the imagined repercussions?
  • How will Priya know if the new requests make the best business sense?
Product backlog. Agile software development
Product backlog. Agile software development
Product backlog. Agile software development | Image By astel design, Shutterstock

Scenario Three — Navigating The System

Jamal is a new Product Owner at Excel-Invest, a FinTech company. Not long into his role, Jamal notices a perceived sense of hierarchy, a system where people are protective of their areas. He intends to finish building a time-sensitive product roadmap for the company’s in-house trading platform.

  1. Either role-play the scenario as presented with alternative endings or role-play from the start and reinvent the interaction flow. In particular, pay attention to the role of Susan and the choice of whether she will participate.
  2. Once again, if role-playing is not a preferred method of exploration, discuss potential new outcomes using the below questions.
  1. When clients are busy, what are other ways to ensure engagement?
  2. In your experience, what are motivational factors causing people to become protective of their domain within organizations?
  3. How can Jamal emerge stronger from his experience and overcome feelings of disempowerment?

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Lisa Bradburn

Written by

Agile Coach and Psychotherapist-In-Training at the intersection of technology and the human condition. Let’s chat: lisabradburnmedium@gmail.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

Lisa Bradburn

Written by

Agile Coach and Psychotherapist-In-Training at the intersection of technology and the human condition. Let’s chat: lisabradburnmedium@gmail.com

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +771K people. Follow to join our community.

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