Category Archives: Agile Roles

The various, ill-defined, roles of Agile.

Mindlessness Coaching

Another one. A self-styled “Agile Coach” making it all up as she goes along. Such was my response when asked this week to join the client’s team in a coaching session.

Like others this one promoted the idea of “lunch and learn” sessions in which we are supposed to give up our legally-mandated lunchbreak in order to work for three-quarters of an hour without pay by holding a team meeting during which we dine on take-aways al-desko.

Of course she doesn’t spell it out like this, preferring to dress it up in armchair psychobabble as “bonding”. Eating together promotes bonding. Word-for-word, as if they all memorized the phrase from the Charlatan’s Lean Guide to Agile Coaching.

I asked her if we’d have to pay for our own lunches as we learn, or could we put take-aways on expenses like we do when we work weekends and the canteen is closed? The budget-minded boss-fella answered that for her.

Next somebody else asked her why eating together promotes bonding, and she was visibly making stuff up as she went along. Drawing for her illustrations not upon survival instincts, primitive mating habits, or even evolutionary advantageous self-reinforcing behaviours, but rather from the realm of Christmas Dinner and Birthday Parties.

It kind of degenerated after that, but she had some games for us to play to keep us amused. We had to fit together some brightly-coloured pieces of plastic into a square. Kind of like a jigsaw with no picture, but with only seven pieces to keep it doable.

That game was ruined by a software developer who suggested finding the piece with the longest edge, assume that to be a diagonal, then break-out into two teams tasked with fitting half a square – a triangle – onto each side with the remaining pieces. Which solved the “problem” in about 15 secs of the alloted ten minutes.

Then she had us role-play “talking-to-a-client”, presumably not having been made aware that we are all independent contractors on the job and her client is our client.

Nothing of what this coach suggested will ever be implemented. They never are. The point of such sessions is motivational. It gives the guys a break from work where they get to do something different – but do it together. Which is where the bonding aspect arises, irrespective of any chocolate-coated carrots that may be dangled over the entrance to the meeting-cum-seminar room theses events are invariably held in. Last one was in a local hotel, which was better because the hour-long round-trip was also on paid time, and it had a bar.

The exicitment of the change in routine counts for a lot. As good as a rest. It gives the team something to natter about for the next few weeks and gives a temporary boost to morale. Just from the change in routine alone – even if the hired speaker is nuts. In fact, getting in some harmless whacko who’s going to talk drivel for an hour or so might be ideal.

It’s when you move between organisations as often as we do that you get to see so many of these performances.

“New joiner?”
“Yes, I joined the…”
“I see you are wearing a suit. Do you identify as a man?”
“Yes”
“Then you’ll need diversity and sensitivity training and there will be a 5% deduction from your renumeration to pay towards the righting of historical injustices. Welcome aboard. Please proceed to room 12a”.
“Right-o”