Meet The Coach: Daniel Lynn
1. Can you summarize for us your career path and how you came to be an Agile coach?
My career path was a bit winding. I started programming as a kid and that led me into early jobs writing software - mostly continuing education software for universities and government agencies. Eventually, I set software development aside to spend a few years working in data center operations. However, a number of projects in what we would now call DevOps brought me back to development.
Building software that automates datacenter automation can be hectic and about this time, our team started learning about Scrum as a way to put some sense and order around our work. I very quickly came to love working on Scrum projects and our team began adopting XP practices and ideas from other parts of agile. As the team grew, I began managing teams of developers and testers and it gave me a whole new perspective on what it takes to deliver great software.
After eight years at that company, felt like it was time to expand my understanding of how other companies work, so I started working contracts as a project manager, scrum master, or agile coach. During that time I got to meet Brad and Richard, other coaches at agile42. I talked to coaches from other companies too, but something about the agile42 approach really resonated with me.
So, here I am a year into my journey with agile42 and I couldn’t be happier. I get to join our clients for a really exciting time in their organization and I’m constantly encountering new and exciting challenges.
2. What are your 3 tips for Agile managers?
i. Trust your team. The best managers I’ve worked with know that their team is great. They never have to question if the team will do good work and their role is to make sure the team has what they need.
ii. Grow your team. There’s a difference between allowing your team to continuously improve and joining them on the journey. Those teams where everyone is a top performer aren’t assembled, they’re cultivated.
iii. Get excited. When I first became a manager, I got some great guidance: You have to love watching other people succeed. If you approach working with others like a contract, then that’s how they’ll approach delivering work. If you are excited to work with them, they’ll be excited to deliver value.
3. What is the main inspiration for what you do?
I could say that it’s getting to see teams succeed where they may have been struggling before, but it’s more than that. If it was just teams not meeting a deadline and then they do meet it, coaching would get boring pretty fast. What’s really amazing to me and gets me excited is how they succeed. I get to watch teams come up with innovative solutions to problems that could have never come about in traditional big-design approaches.
4. What have you seen lately that is interesting and new in the world of Agile?
Oddly enough, some of the most interesting things I’m seeing in Agile aren’t that new. I’m seeing more of a return to core concepts and principles. After a period that saw a lot of effort go into understanding how to scale Agile and how to account for edge cases, it seems like people are circling back to some of the original ideas about Agile being a better way to create great products and strengthening those ideals in all of the practices that have come about over the past decade or so.
5. What is your favorite non-fiction book and why?
I’d be hard-pressed to pick a favorite, but one that I don’t think is on many people’s reading list in the Agile community is Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kin and Renee Mauborgne. It was one of the first books that I read that keyed in on understanding the real needs and behaviors of your target users and focused on that as being the center of effective business strategies.