When I co-teach the Coaching Agile Teams class, a waft of some of my one-hit wonders flit through my brain every so quickly before I catch myself and bring my attention back to what's happening in the class and with the students. One of these wafts happened recently, when a student wrote down that something she'd like to see in the world is "more ACTION, less TALK." And, yes, she wrote it just like that. She was quite definite and forceful about it. As her Sharpie formed the words on the flip chart, a waft of a memory came to me, just the barest edge of remembering a moment of great agile coaching. This was a couple of years ago. We were all sitting around a table, deep into a design discussion. Well, they were deep into a discussion. I was deep into wondering if I would grow old and calcify before they were done with the discussion (and whether they would even notice).

It had been going on for some time and they had long ago left the land of reality. They were ever-so-carefully traversing the misty glens of a theoretical landscape. I knew this because they were about six levels deep in a logic tree, trying to design what would happen if condition x and y were present and the user performed action m while also having data flag j flipped get the picture. Only keep going. They were deeper than that. They had discussed a number of scenarios like this, all in an attempt to make some pretty daunting design decisions.

As they started in on what felt like the 100th scenario, a bolt of lightening hit my brain and I blurted out, "How many of these design decisions can you try out in the time it takes to finish this one conversation?" Their jaws dropped open. Their eyes bugged out. And then, slow smiles creeped across their faces. Little giggles bubbled up. The giggles grew and turned into peals of joyful laughter. "Of course!" they said, "Let's just DO it. How stupid is it to sit around here talking? We know enough to try out the major theories and just get on with it."

So, that's what they did. They moved into action and tried out a few of the major bits of logic and - guess what? - they learned. They learned things they couldn't possibly know by bumbling around in the mists of theoretical land. Those bits became reality and became the foundation for the next set of things they would try. The best part was that, while they worked their way toward a more solid design, they saved time. Loads of it. And, they had created one more way of creating together.

Coaches...blurt!  Action!

agileLyssa Adkins