“Coaching Agile Teams” by Lyssa Adkins: a review

Reading time: 3 minutes

This article is a review of “Coaching Agile Teams” by Lyssa Adkins. I have based this review on a Dutch translation of the book. 

"Coaching Agile Teams" by Lyssa Adkins: a review

“Coaching Agile Teams” by Lyssa Adkins is a well-regarded book on the subject of coaching agile teams and is recommended reading for those interested in the topic. The book provides practical advice and insights into how to effectively coach agile teams and assist them in reaching their goals. As project leads move away from a “command and control” mindset and toward coaching skills, it is critical to adopt a coaching mindset in order to guide teams to great performance.

The book’s goal is to give readers a thorough understanding of the agile coach’s role, assisting them in discovering what works and what doesn’t, and learning how to adapt powerful skills from a variety of allied disciplines, including professional coaching and mentoring.

Structure and style

The book is divided into three sections. Part one covers the fundamentals of coaching, such as the role of a coach, the coaching mindset, and the stages of team development. The second section focuses on coaching competencies such as creating a safe and supportive environment, facilitating team learning and growth, and coaching individual team members. Part three focuses on the difficulties and pitfalls of coaching in agile environments.

Adkins explains the key concepts and practices of coaching agile teams using real-world examples, case studies, and practical advice. The author provides readers with specific tools and techniques that they can use in their own coaching practice, rather than just abstract theories and concepts. Exercises and reflection questions are included in each chapter to help readers apply the ideas presented in the book to their own work.

Another aspect of the book’s style is its emphasis on empathy and comprehension. The importance of developing strong relationships with team members and understanding their unique needs and challenges is emphasized by the author. She also recognizes the difficulties that coaches may face in their work and offers advice on how to navigate difficult situations while maintaining a positive and supportive coaching stance.

My unsalted verdict

That said, I found the book to be a little too focused on empathy, as evidenced by the wording, which made it feel a little too sentimental and new-agey at times. Furthermore, the author’s use of metaphors throughout the book came across as cliched and overused.

It is worth noting that the book’s translation can have a significant impact on how it is perceived. I happened to come across the book’s Dutch translation, and it’s possible that the translation didn’t resonate with me.

That said, the book really picks up steam after Chapter 5, when the author delves into coaching competencies and provides more practical advice. However, I found myself scanning the book rather than reading it word for word because it wasn’t as concise as I had hoped.

While I have some reservations about the book, I believe it provides useful insights and practical advice on coaching agile teams. It’s definitely worth a look if you want to improve your coaching skills and support your (agile) team. ⭐⭐⭐

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