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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Dec 11, 2020

This week, Dan Neumann is excited to be joined by Ola Berg who is joining virtually all the way from Sweden! Ola is a Change Strategist and Agile Guide for Nimbletribe with a vision that every workplace should be a safe and exciting environment where people look after each other and are super productive — and not because he believes we should be superhumans, but because of the great procedures, collaborations, and culture we can achieve through agility.


In Dan and Ola’s conversation, they discuss Agile and the importance of connecting the “whole”; the mindset, the process, and the culture, in order to achieve true, “whole” agility. Dan shares his tips for agile coaches and guides alike on how to be more holistic in your approach to an agile transformation and the actionable steps you can take to get there.


Key Takeaways

What does “connecting the whole” refer to in agility?

It is more than just applying the Agile mindset, following the process, or focusing on culture; you need to consider all three together

You need to consider and address all three (i.e. the “whole”): mindset, process, and culture for agile to be successful

Ola’s advice in approaching an agile transformation as a whole:

Creating a bubble of a common culture where the agile values are prevalent is a crucial element to creating harmony between the process, culture, and the structure

Insulate the change from the rest of the organization so that it does not get killed off

The change always needs to be contained (if it is not it will spread too fast and will break things)

You need to introduce instability to the organization but not all at once (otherwise it will collapse)

You need to have elements in the change that are accepted by everyone

You need to be a team player and collaborate

Change needs to occur within but also in the API

Early on, create a map so that you can get situational awareness of what’s going on (from the process of how people are working, the culture, and the structure)

“Ultimately, it’s not my job or your job as an agile coach to change things. The only ones who can change things are the people doing the work. So our job must be very much directed towards creating awareness. — Ola Berg

An agile coach or guide must work as if they could be removed at any time; It is crucial that they make sure the team has the same awareness of the environment as themselves

The goal as a guide is to instill awareness in all three of these topics: the culture, the processes, and the structure, at the same time

Ultimately, the goal is that the team/s will be able to do this themselves as well as the organization’s collective ability and maturity

The goal is a mature, self-directed team (but in order to get there it is important to be prepared as an agile coach to be able to play a more “parental” role to one of an advisor)

Dump any preconceived notions of what it means to be an agile coach when entering a new organization and instead look at the current situation (i.e. “How do I need to act now in this situation?”, “How mature are the teams?”, etc.)

Provide plenty of encouragement at the beginning and present more challenges as the team matures

If you’re ever unsure as an agile coach you can directly ask your team (i.e. “Do you want me to be more prescriptive or do you want me to guide you through an exploration process?”)

Take small steps first before taking a big leap so you can get a growing understanding of what the big leap/s you need to take is/are


Mentioned in this Episode:

Ola Berg’s LinkedIn



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