Aug. 25, 2011

Awesome Coach of the week: Martin Kearns

We honor Martin Kearns as Awesome Coach of the Week 34, 2011

I was very lucky to be present at a management coaching session where two very well known Scrum Coaches were performing: Andrea Tomasini and Martin Kearns. With this weekly post, we want to honor Martin Kearns.

Martin Kearns, the man

 His vitae is impressive. - He is one of the first three CSC in the world and was also one of the first CST, he is breathing and sweating Agile. He is an irish guy living in Australia with his wife and six children (a family of the size of a Scrum Team). How he can manage to be a Scrum Coach travelling all over the world and at the same time be part of such a huge family? - Well, he applied the rules of agility to his own private life as well.

Kearnsey Smiling

Sharp Mind & Systemic View

He is very sensitive for the surroundings and outer constraints of a company and also very knowledgeable in that field. His many ideas about how to be a great Product Owner inspired me a lot and I learned from him many ways of how to set up a release plan and stay on top of any backlog no matter how complex a product is. 

He taught me that most problems do not originate from the team. With his great understanding about the systemic behavior of a company and much experience about what little changes can make a difference, I often heard him asking questions that seemed a bit unrelated to me to find out just a minute later, that was directly at the heart of a problem - a seemingly small dysfunction caused by someone who wanted just a little bit of extra control at a certain point that lead to a cascade of dysfunctions. Martin sees the source.

Related to an organisation‘s behavior, he also introduced me to the Elastic Band Theory: „ The strain placed on organisation’s culture and structures will revert back to past behaviours under pressure“. With his unconventional coaching style and funny drawings that he uses as metaphors, he catches people off guard and puts them under pressure in order to reveal - surprised and pressured - how they really behave.

Smooth Operator

In the session I attended, there were a lot of emotions coming up as the structure and strategy of a whole company was being challenged and questioned. There were times when I thought the meeting is about to collapse, but Martins presence and calmness extended over the whole room and smoothened the tides.

Kearnsey Explaining

And it was not just emotional, it was chaotic, because the people involved were not used to follow a structured approach. Martin adapted and gave them excercises with a very few rules so that they were mostly free to self-organize. - Each and every step gave results and I thought, they will never lead us anywhere, but Martin put them together, debriefed, and put another excercise on top of the last results until the very heart of the problem came up and was understood mutually.

Awesome Coach of the Week

For me, he is awesome because of his incredible sharp and analytical mind. Out of just a few sentences from the mouth of somebody, he is able to generate a living picture of the company, derive potential problems and with a few further questions, he makes you realize where the pain is and why it hurts.

All this makes him an Awesome Coach in our opinion. Thanks Martin for your contribution to our community! If you want to, follow him on twitter @kearnsey. If you had an awesome experience with Martin as well and want to add something, please do so in the comments. We honor one Coach per week, so suggestions are welcome!


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