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   Grow a Solid Agile Team: Practical Skills for Cultivating Excellence

Grow a Solid Agile Team: Practical Skills for Cultivating Excellence


Grow a Solid Agile Team: Practical Skills for Cultivating Excellence

Grow a Solid Agile Team: Practical Skills for Cultivating Excellence

Agile teams: where theory collides with the Real World

Agile is predicated on empowered, collaborative teams. Real-world Agile teams, however, experience various gnarly situations:

  • The members have a manager (or more than one), and maybe also a ScrumMaster, and maybe also a project manager. Who owns which decisions and activities?
  • They didn't get to pick their colleagues, and even their manager didn't have a complete say in their selection. Why assume that they would want to be mutually accountable?
  • Team members want more autonomy and decision-making power than their organization (which probably isn't designed for agility) will allow.
  • Their self-organization is rather basic, and most of their retrospectives result in minor changes, making the whole 'team power' thing seem a bit academic.
  • Their managers won't admit it to anyone, but their trust in individual members doesn't always extend to trusting the team as a unit.

These challenges are common, and usually result in mediocrity. But you can turn the situation around. And if results matter, you have to turn it around.

Impressive and sustained results only flow from solid Agile teams

You know your team is solid when you can safely go on vacation and expect that in your absence, they'll perform at least as well as when you're present. They will continue to produce great value in collaboration with their customer, and adjust to reasonable changes in expectations. (Rest assured, you are still needed past your vacation — solid teams still have good use for servant leaders!)

If your team is not as solid, not as Agile, or not as much a team as they could be, this workshop is for you

Join Gil Broza (author of "The Human Side of Agile") and a small group of committed leaders. You'll come away from these two packed and engaging days with real answers to your real world problems. Expect us to go light on theory and heavy on practice and pragmatism.

My promises to you ("learning objectives"):

  • Learn exactly how to support an Agile team all the way from Forming to Performing (did you know that every stage requires different actions and strategies from you?)
  • Build up your confidence and skills as a servant leader (all the more so if your organization doesn't entirely understand servant leadership)
  • Put the whole team autonomy and empowerment situation in your context, and specifically who makes which decisions when
  • Develop ways to share your expectations, needs, and experience without being seen as interfering or micromanaging
  • Get through to even the most resistant people without being “touchy-feely”
  • Discover how to coach both individuals and teams, and practice that in a safe environment
  • Lead useful, collaborative meetings (even if you can’t be a neutral facilitator)

28-29 Mar 2017


St. Petersburg, FL, United States of America


Valpak / Cox Target Media
805 Executive Center Drive West #100
St. Petersburg, FL, United States of America 33702


$1500 (Group discounts available)


Discounted seats available. Contact Gil Broza for more information.



Working on your CSP? You'll earn 14 SEUs from this workshop.

Working on your PMP / PMI-ACP certification renewal? You'll earn 14 Category B PDUs from this workshop.


Upon registration, you will receive access to Gil's self-study course, Individuals and Interactions: How to Put People Before Process for Outstanding Results. This course comprises 10 interviews that Gil conducted with world-renowned experts, all of whom have been successfully implementing the most elusive statement from the Agile Manifesto. The lineup includes Johanna Rothman, Christopher Avery, Ellen Gottesdiener, Rick Ross, and others. For each interview, both mp3 recording and transcript are provided. You'll be able to claim 10 PDUs from this course. (Value: $79)

We'll cover several broad topics, each of them just enough for you to effectively grow a solid Agile team

Our curriculum/agenda includes the following topics (with the expectation of some on-the-spot customization, depending on who comes!)

1. Your mind-set, role, responsibilities

Agile favors the servant leadership model; a great and elusive ideal, it means different things for managers, team leaders, project managers, and ScrumMasters. Clarity around this is also vitally important to their teams, especially those who are accountable to two or more of these authority figures! We’ll discuss both the ideal and the reality in the attendees’ context, and identify the qualities and actions that would make the most difference to their teams. Participants will increase their awareness of two key responsibilities of effective leadership: enabling motivation and supporting people through the emotional response to change.

2. Supporting the team's successful evolution

Teams are clearly not an Agile invention, but Agile teams are like “regular” teams on steroids. Investing in an Agile team is like buying a high-risk stock: when they succeed, the return on investment is huge; if they don’t (or until they do), the return can be quite bad. According to the Tuckman model of group evolution, every team has to proceed through formingstorming, and norming on the way to the stage that makes it all worthwhile, performing. However, too many Agile teams never get past storming. To make matters worse, some teams may appear to have normed, but they merely put on a happy face, stifle all conflict and differences, and defer to their product owner and managers.Tuckman model of team evolution

We’ll analyze the fundamental differences between great, good, and struggling Agile teams. Then, we’ll walk through what it takes for a team to graduate from one stage to the next, what the risks are, and how, as leaders, the participants can help their team along the way to greatness. We’ll discuss their most likely impediments to teamwork and identify possible responses.

3. Powerful communication

“We need to communicate better” and “communication breakdowns” are popular observations in retrospectives and post-mortems. However, micromanagement, nagging, and more emails are not the remedy. Equally unhelpful is traditional communication training, which assumes you can pigeon-hole other people into “types” (e.g. MBTI, DiSC) and adjust your style to that type’s preferences. (Most people don’t walk around with labels on their foreheads announcing their types, and profiling other people is incredibly hard.)

In this half-day segment, you’ll learn powerful ways to get your point across in interactions with staff, colleagues, and managers. You’ll practice effective interactions, giving feedback, handling resistance, and difficult conversations — all without being “touchy-feely”. Along the way, you’ll get help (from me and your peers) for team- and leadership-related problems.

4. Coaching individuals and teams to grow

Coaching is the leader’s best tool for helping people embrace the Agile mind-set. And in the course of daily work, leaders use coaching to help their followers, peers, and even superiors improve their results. But what does that mean? What can you and can’t you do in an environment of autonomy, trust, and self-organization? When should you be teaching, facilitating, mentoring, or coaching? Why do logical arguments rarely work as well as you’d expect them to? And do you really have to ask for permission to coach?

We’ll explore the 9 stances of helpfulness and to increase the likelihood of your offers of help being accepted. We’ll then zero in on the coaching stance, study the GROW model, and bring it to life with useful techniques. The instructor will demonstrate expert coaching with one of the participants, and debrief the experience with the audience. Attendees will practice and receive feedback on their coaching. We’ll see what leaders do to support their team’s Agility in a coaching capacity, and discuss useful techniques for creating quick shifts in teams.

5. Facilitating team conversations

The #1 complaint about Agile is that there are too many meetings. In most cases, the complaint is less about the number of meetings than about their quality and value. But meetings, and all forms of conversation, are vital for a self-organizing team that values communication, collaboration, and consensus.

Whether in a formal meeting or in the hallway, whether in person or distributed, you must do certain basic things to make conversations meaningful and worthwhile. (And they don’t necessarily involve flipcharts, stickies, or markers.) You’ll practice with — and get tons of feedback on — two elements you must absolutely get right if your meetings are to succeed.

6. Optional: Managing the frustration of leading change

The people you lead experience two types of change: product and work changes, and growth as an Agile team. As exhilarating as such leadership can be, it can also be frustrating. You will encounter blame, justification, guilt, and other coping stances. You’ll learn a useful model and perspective for identifying and overcoming the frustration. Along the way, we’ll examine a powerful technique to inspire people to take responsibility.

7. Closing

Mirroring our first topic — your role and mind-set — we’ll now explore your own personal growth path and specific steps forward.

This workshop is particularly designed for people who directly affect the well-being and outcomes of Agile teams: ScrumMasters, managers, project managers.

It is geared to active Lean/Agile practitioners who have the opportunity to apply what they learn here. I expect you to know the Agile basics and to have at least a couple of months' experience applying them. You don't have to be "an Agile convert" :-)

Read and watch testimonials from previous attendees at