Developing a Training Library

One of the best pieces of advice I received about being an Agile coach is to develop and maintain your own training library. It’s come in handy any number of times, so I’m happy to pass it along.

If you’re working for a company, then they might have standard training materials that you work from, but not all companies have the most current, relevant materials, so be prepared to update/modify as needed. There is always the bonus that it is easier/better to deliver training when you’ve been responsible for organizing the content!

I’ve found that the process of creating my own training materials served multiple purposes: forced me to develop my own point of view and organizational flow around the most standard Agile concepts and helped me to have ready responses for the most common questions and scenarios.

Among the most frequent training topics requested are:

  • Agile 101 – a whole day introduction to Agile; includes the history and principles of Agile as well as an overview of any specific frameworks the client will be using, such as Scrum, SAFe, etc.
  • Software Development with Scrum – usually scheduled for about four hours and is most often delivered to teams; includes information about the Scrum framework, roles and responsibilities and planning/workflow of a sprint as well as overview of planning and estimating
  • Delivering with Kanban – usually 2-4 hours again most often for teams; addresses the what, when and why of Kanban; an explanation of Lean, value streams and flow and Kanban-specific metrics such as cycle time, etc.
  • Introduction to SAFe – this is usually a lunch-and-learn session so would be a high-level overview of SAFe concepts and structure. I usually customize it to focus on whatever area I think an organization is doing well or really needs to improve.

Another common set of training is role-based, so:

  • Agile Testing – covers topics such as differences from waterfall; what kind of testing happens when; how to partner with developers and BA, rather than working in silo mode, etc.
  • Product Owner Training – this is one of the most frequently delivered since this role is new in Scrum and represents a big leap from their previous work
  • Agile Project Management – most often a 1-2 hour discussion session with project managers on how to survive in a Agile world; emphasis is on the switch in the project manager’s focus from task/people management to empowering the team and  focusing on removing barriers
  • Requirements Management in Agile – usually for business analysts; covers the work intake process and Agile values such as prioritization and the business-development partnership. This is the one I most customize for each client since there is a wide range of structures and roles related to this process

Then there are the training sessions to address specific scenarios, especially if you notice a pattern of recurrence. In my experience these have included:

  • Agile Planning and Estimating – for teams who’ve struggled with estimation
  • Release Planning – for teams/projects that are trying to implement SAFe
  • Iteration Zero – lesson learned while working in government space!
  • Agile Architecture for Tech Leads, also includes specifics about a tech lead’s responsibilities during a sprint, during planning, etc.
  • Metrics for Management – provides an overview of the most common Agile metrics and emphasizes that metrics are a starting point for conversation
  • Dev Ops – this has become a buzzword with my clients, so I’ve put together a basic slide deck on what is Dev Ops, what needs to be done before you can do Dev Ops, etc.

This post isn’t meant to be exhaustive, but I hope it provides a good starting point for anyone who wants to be an Agile coach or ends up in that role.

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