Awesome Coach of the Week: Sebastian Schürmann
I first met Sebastian Schürmann at the ScrumGathering 2009 in Munich. We’ve been in touch on Twitter since and met again at Play4Agile in February and the AgileCoachCamp two weeks ago. This week, I’ve been at his company and could gain first-hand experience of his awesome achievements…
Sebastian is a man of strong opinion and blunt communication. To phrase it differently, he’s a natural talent of violent communication—which can be quite effective…
At the ACCDE11, we both attended a session on non-violent communication. We talked a lot about that technique during the weekend. I put the book on my to-read and the topic on my need-to-know-more-about list, but Sebastian really got hooked. He started reading the book and already applies the technique to his conversations… A nice example he gave me was “How to stop Facebook rands with NVC”.
Martin Kearns made me read “On Dialogue” by David Bohm a while ago, and Bohm’s Dialogue as a communication technique has been on my mind since. It’s basically about thinking about your thinking, to become aware of the unconscious judgement processes in your thinking, as they shape your discussions with other people. Once you manage to get that judgement out of the way and let the other persons' opinions be as they are without trying to judge them and emotionally react to them, you start a true dialogue.
This theory is behind the NVC technique, and is extremely useful in communication, especially in coaching. Sebastian wrote about the impression that made on him in his blog about the CoachCamp.
The Stickies Evangelist
As a part of his internal work as an XP coach, and increasingly often outside his company, Sebastian works as a trainer. He heavily uses ideas from Training from the Back of the Room, and he uses Stickies more intensively than the rest of us. I especially found two things awesome:
At ACCDE11, he did a lightning talk where he showed us the contents of his “Training Luggage” and explained how he uses stickies and pens in ways that have only partly been common to most of us.
In the offices of the company he works in, I don’t remember a single room without stickies. As I don’t think that he wrote all of them himself (guessing from different handwritings here) I conclude that he virulently influenced a lot of his colleagues with his way of very visible communication and visual facilitation.
Will Disobey Anyone If Required
Talking about virulently influencing… This is what amazed me most about this guy. I didn’t have a single conversation in his company this week (and I talked to more than 50 people in four days) where his presence was not noticeable. His name was not explicitly mentioned every time, but even when I only heard it between the lines… He started as a developer and became a team lead over time. Without any official mandate for change he started to firmly grab the roots of that company and started to move it.
You get a good impression of his mindset and communication skills when you watch the hilarious Sprint Review subs he created for a movie scene I’m sure you know:
The fact that this company has gone farther than most I’ve visited so far on their path towards an agile organisation and leadership mindset is based on his constant grip on the roots. Add to that very strong personal relationships with many people, risking to offend anyone, always fighting for the right values and good cause…
Sebastian created one of the awesomest compliments I’ve ever heard about one of his collegues: “He’ll disobey anyone if required.” That sentence applies to him more than anyone I know. A true Linchpin!
Awesome Coach of the Week
This is why we think Sebastian Schürmann is an Awesome Coach. If you can add an awesome experience with Sebastian, please do so in the comments. We honour one Coach a week. Suggestions welcome!