Agile Coaching Dojos and Why you Need One
What is a Dojo?
Alot of Agile concepts were inspired by the Japanese culture, working practices and values. And one of the concepts that we as agile explorers have adopted is the concept of a Dojo. Dojo is Japanese for “place of the way.” The concept is both a physical (or virtual in post-covid times) and metaphorical space where people come together to learn and master something.
What is an Agile Coaching Dojo?
An Agile Coaching Dojo is simply a place (physical or virtual) where agile coaches, change agents and scrum masters come to learn the art of Agile Coaching. It’s a great way to practice active listening, empathy and experience different coaching techniques. Often in my journey as an agile coach, I rarely witness another coach… well… you know… coaching… so the concept of an Agile Coaching Dojo really tickles my exploration side a bit… I love learning and discovering what other ways can I coach, influence, mentor, inspire the leaders and team members I coach.
By holding Agile Coaching Dojos on some type of cadence, you are building a learning culture where coaches can come together and learn from each other. It’s a way to shift mindsets and build a stronger coaching team. Agile Coaching Dojos also offer a safe space to explore and experience different ways to handle tough topics and situations that crop up during our live coaching sessions.
How do I run one?
Running an Agile Coaching Dojo does not have to be overly complicated, you simply need 3 or more people and a place to collaborate. The time you allocate to the Agile Coaching Dojo really depends on how many people attend and how you want to structure the Dojo – larger Dojos do break out groups keeping the groups to 3-5 people.
For a group of 3-5 people, you should probably allocate 10 minutes for introductions, 5-7 minutes to work through an issue and then 30 minutes for feedback – 10 minutes per person for feedback.
There are three key roles in a dojo:
- Coach – person who guides another to a possible solution
- Seeker – person who comes with a business challenge or problem they are facing
- Observer(s) – person who does not actively participate and provides feedback at the end of the coaching conversation.
At the beginning of the Agile Coaching Dojo explain the learning goal – is it to learn some characteristic of agile coaching, is it to ask more powerful questions or is it to see a specific technique practiced.
After the session, the Agile Coaches attending will be more aware of their own coaching skills and will have hopefully another coaching tool or change in mindset in their toolbox.
Ensure that when you introduce the Agile Coaching Dojo that you state this is a safe place where you can explore, make mistakes and learn. Also encourage the person playing the coach role that if they get stuck, it’s ok to ask for help. The whole idea is to try something new and learn from the experience.
Where can I find one?
There are a few free Agile Coaching Dojos you can join:
- Chicago – Agile Coaching Dojo
- Chicago – Agile Coaching Exchange Dojo
- New York – Agile Moose Herd
- Kansas City – KC Coaching Dojo
Where can I learn more?
Here’s a few more resources that will get your Agile Coaching Dojo kicked off successfully:
Never stop exploring this world called “Agile”!