Tag Archives: Coaching circles

Coaching Circle Retrospective

Another round of coaching circles has come to an end. As usual we wrapped up with a retrospective.

We had a good representative from most of the circles for a great retro, despite the miserable weather. Red wine and a roaring fire definitely helped.

We started with a checkin for people to share their story about why they joined coaching circles. Followed by some brainstorming on what benefits people received, what they learned, things they tried because of the circles, as well as things they regret.

But all retro’s come down to actions. We tried to keep it simple. We loked at things we should keep and things we should add. Here is what we found.

Things to keep:

  • The fortnightly cadence and 90 minute duration
  • Intention setting at the end of each circle
  • Discussions about more broader topics that just Scrum
  • Big group circles, they did work!

Things to add:

  • Clearer expectations of what each circle is about, e.g. topics, level, etc
  • Enough mentors for each circle
  • Commitment from circle attendees to be at all sessions
  • Homework between sessions
  • Sharing more personal stories

We agreed that to achieve these we would essentially do 2 things

  1. Change the kickoff to include the first session where working agreements are set, commitment made clear, expectations of each circle discuss while everyone is together in a large group.
  2. Provide some guidelines to facilitators to help ensure they cover things we have learned in the past.

So if you are keen to join the next round of circles, be sure to be at the Kickoff this time.

Coaching Circle Retrospective

The first round of coaching circles for 2012 came to an end in April; closing with a retrospective as usual.

Feedback from the group in general was that they enjoyed the circles, particularly those new to the group who started with a mentoring circle. All agree a mentoring circle is a good place to start if you are new to Scrum, or new to the coaching circles. These more structured circles give people a good idea of what to expect in future.

There were a few comments about circles that didn’t work as well this round due to a small number of people, which reminded us that these circles work well if the participants are committed to attending all of the session for a particular round. Spotty attendance tends to impact the whole group.

Fueled by some wine and an inspiration for radical brainstorming we came up with some novel suggestions including doing coaching circles while lying on the floor staring at the ceiling rather than other members, bring along our pets (always present at my coaching circles:), and starting our own reality tv show.

So out came the sticky dots for some dot voting on the ideas we thought would most benefit the next round. They were:

Everyone agreed drinks and snacks make circles better so at the start each circle should discuss how they will deal with it, will everyone bring every session, or will it rotate, etc.

We also agreed that sometimes there would be benefit bringing visitors. Although the trust and safety of the circle is important, we thought this time around circle members could bring a visitor to a circle as long as the rest of the group agreed in advance.

Since venues is a common problem, the idea was raised of having a circle type next round where the venue rotates to each person in the circle’s house. This would mean a new venue each time, but would be less onerous on a single person to provide a venue for every session. We will see how popular the idea is at the kickoff.

And finally it was agreed that people enjoy sharing their work stress with like minded individuals and so we agreed that all circles should allow some time each session for people just to unwind and share their current work problems, before tackling the topic for the session.

That’s it. Thanks to those who attended the retro for the interesting discussion. The next kickoff will be on 7 May at Allan Gray, facilitated by Sam, since I will be in Germany 🙂 If you want to join a circle starting in May be sure to attend the kick off. You can signup for the event or find our more about coaching circles.

Coaching Circle Roundup

It’s 2012, everyone is back in the groove after December holidays, so it’s time to get the circles going again. We will be kicking off on Monday 13 February, atLots are people are asking me about coaching circles. How was the retro, when are they starting up again, can they join, etc. I though it might be time for a post.


Last year ended with a great retrospective on the final round of coaching circles, facilitated by Cara Turner. This was the first round of circles where we split into 3 types: mentoring, coaching and dojo. It seems the end result was very positive. People loved the new circle types! See the photo’s below for the outcomes of the retro.




First we made some posters about the sessions.







Then we talked about things we didn’t like (burnt toast), things we loved (ice cream) and things we’d like to try (experiments)









In the end we had some suggestions and next steps actions


Onwards and upwards

It’s 2012, everyone is back in the groove after December holidays, so it’s time to get the circles going again. We will be kicking off on Monday 13 February, at 6pm. Please signup if you will attend. If you are keen to join a circle or even just find out more about them to decide if they are right for you, then make sure you get yourself to the kickoff. As always those who can’t attend the kickoff may still join circles by adding their details to the coaching circles google doc. However please note, those at the kickoff get first preference for circles of their choosing. Also for newbie, it’s highly recommended you come to the kick off to get an idea of what’s involved and how it works. Remember we will need hosts who can offer venues, signup in the google doc if you can offer one.

Signup for the kickoff here!


Cape Town: Coaching Circles Kickoff

Passionate about Agile? Keen to grow your Scrum skills? Want to meet others who have the same challenges you do? Join a coaching circle.

Coaching circles are groups of people interested in Scrum and Agile who meet one a fortnight for 90 minutes and discuss a topic the are all interested in. Read about some of the things people have said in the past about coaching circles here.

If you are interested in joining, or in finding out more, make sure you attend the next kickoff session.

When: Monday 18 July 2011, 6pm

Venue: DVT, Annexe A, Long Kloof Studios, Darters Road, Gardens. See a map here.

Signup: Please signup here.

Willing to host: We need people to volunteer as hosts for this round of circles. Hosts are people who provide the venue for a coaching circle. You don’t need to facilitate the session, just be able to provide a venue where 6 people can meet in the evening. We are looking for venues all over Cape Town. The venue can be a meeting room at your office, or your lounge at home. If you are able to host a venue, please add your details to the following spreadsheet.

Coaching Circles Retrospective

Another round of coaching circles has drawn to a close. We held a retrospective on Monday at 6pm. Here are some of the things we discovered in the retrospective.

We started with a quick checkin, here are some of the words people used to describe the coaching circles:

So what did we learn?

Most people agree that we are doing some things right and should keep doing them.

  • Meeting once every 2 weeks
  • Keeping groups to 5-6 people
  • Timeboxing to 90 minutes
  • Rotating facilitators
  • Having a range of venues including some in the northern suburbs
  • Communicating our learnings via the agile anonymous google group

We also agreed on a few changes.

  • We should try only send emails about whether we can make the circle or not to our direct circle members, not the whole AA group
  • Facilitators should do a SUGSA blog post on the topic after each circle
  • We should extend the circles so that we have 4 sessions in a particular round
  • All circles should have snacks, we are all jealous of the Tiramisu group!
  • We should write up a ‘tips for facilitators’ document to help first time facilitators know what to do
  • We should try be a bit more organized in how we assign people to circles at the kickoff
  • People hosting a venue should be at the kickoff to meet people from their circles, especially newbies

The actions we agreed.

  • Karen to do a blog post on the retro (and here it is).
  • Karen to send out a mailer to the SUGSA list about the next kickoff on 18 July (watch for that soon)
  • Karen to announce the next round of circles at Thursday’s SUGSA meeting (let’s hope I remember)
  • Emil to setup a google spreadsheet for upcoming circles so that people can offer venues and put their names against circles before the kickoff
  • Neil will start a document on tips for facilitators and will share it with the AA group

That’s it. Watch out for a mailer soon on the next circle kickoff session, it will be on 18 July at 6pm, still confirming the venue…

Hope to see some new faces joining our circles soon, and for those of you in Jhb, I’ve also been running a skype circle with some folks in Jhb to show them the ropes, once that wraps up next week, I’m sure the Jhb SUGSA folks will kickoff some circles there too.

More Coaching Circles

We are starting new round of agile coaching circles on Monday 9 May. What is an agile coaching circle you ask?

Here is my definition: It’s a group of likeminded peers who get together regular for a fixed period of time, to share experiences and knowledge and grow their skills towards becoming better agilists.

Who is it for: It’s not just for aspiring coaches or ScrumMasters. Anyone interested in sharing there experiences with agile, and learning from peers can join.

What does it involve: We start with a combined kickoff for anyone interested in the circles on 9 May. Here is were we will split into smaller groups based on what time and location suits people best. Each circle will meet for a 90 minute session every fortnight for 3 sessions, then we will have a combined retrospective with all sessions. In total you are committing to 5 x 90 minute slots over a 10 week period.

What if I want to attend more sessions: We have found it best to regroup after a certain number of sessions 1) so that new people can join and 2) so that people whose circumstances have changed can drop out, or switch to circle at a different time/place. When this round is over, we will run another. This is the 3rd round, and everyone from round 1 is still involved.

Not yet convinced? Here are what previous circle attendees have to say about it:

Coaching circles provide a platform to openly discuss commonly-encountered situations and brainstorm approaches in an environment where no-one is invested in the outcome so the thoughts and ideas flow freely.

Coaching Circles are bi-weekly informal get-togethers at somebody’s house, where we dig deeper into areas of Scrum that we are interested in and/or grappling with, to learn from our shared knowledge & experiences.

The agile coaching circles present a major opportunity to meet with likeminded people and, in a friendly and collaborative environment, be exposed to real world issues and how people are solving them.

A fun, relaxed and inspiring get together with people who are passionate about agile. Much like the MasterCard ads … priceless 🙂

A coaching circle is a safe and friendly place to have frank discussions about all things Agile.You can dig deep into work-related issues regarding Scrum, or other, implementations and learn loads from other people’s experience.

A coaching circle is light and informal. Its a great forum where a small group can come together exchange ideas and learn from one another. And drink wine. And eat tiramisu.

Okay I’m sold, now what? Come to the kickoff session

Monday 9 May 2011 6pm to 7.30pm

12 Park Villa Road, Observatory.

RSVP to info [at] scrum [dot] org [dot] za

Feedback on Coaching Circles

In October we held an event to talk about how to grow agile coaches in South Africa. One of the outcomes of that session was a coaching circle that started with 8 enthusiastic agilists keen to grow their skills. From the retrospective we held it seems that learning and fun was had by all, and so I am delighted to let you know that we will be continuing and growing the circle in 2011.

Our plan is a classic scrum scaling pattern, we will add more people and split into 2 circles 🙂

So if you missed joining the first coaching circle this year, make sure to save the date of 10 Jan 2011 for the start of the next circles. To find out more details about coaching circles and the ones kicking off next year you will need to join the following google group: agile-coaching-za