Dec. 6, 2018

Meet the Coach: Cliff Hazell

We talk with Cliff Hazell, the latest addition to the agile42 team of coaches in Sweden

The agile42 team in Sweden has been joined recently by Cliff Hazell, an experienced Agile Leadership coach and trainer that has worked both as an internal Agile coach and as a consultant for large organizations. We sat down with him for a brief chat.

How did you start with Agile and what brought you to become a coach?

I was growing tired of chasing seemingly arbitrary deadlines only to find out what we built wasn't what the customer actually needed. This was about 15 years ago.

Figuring there had to be a more sensible way, we discovered Scrum, and started working in small increments, and getting feedback as we went, and all sitting in the same room.

We noticed this approach we avoided all the time spend defining, estimating, report and starting actually producing useful stuff. Everyone was happier. Me, the team, the customers, everyone.

Cliff Hazell

A few years later I joined a different company and helped evolving our way of building products to be more inclusive of customer feedback, and adaptive to changes that we discovered along the way.

Since then I've been working with many different companies and teams of teams to improve how we work together to meet customer and employees needs better.

You have worked for a number of years as an agile coach at Spotify. Is there such a thing as the "Spotify model"?

I think "The Model" is one of the least interesting things people can learn from Spotify.

Like every company, the charts and pictures you draw to represent the actual org and how it works are always wrong to some degree, because they're abstractions of the things they represent. That said, they're often useful to help understand the complexity.

What makes Spotify interesting has more to do with the culture of frequent collaboration, a relentless desire to improve, and general respect for different human views and ideas. All of this comes from the people, not just the managers, its in how people treat each other, ask questions, share ideas, respond to failures and mistakes, curiosity to learn, and openness to feedback and making changes.

When companies are inspired by Spotify, you see results from those who go beyond naming conventions and into changes in behaviour at all levels.

How is the job different when you're internal coach in a large organization instead of being an external consultant?

I've experienced pro's and con's to both.

Inside the org, your investment in the outcome is more tangible, as you're part of the org, and you'll have a different perspective from the inside.

Being external offers the outside in view, or perhaps the broader perspective, since you likely work with multiple companies.

In my experience it's helpful to blend these two perspectives, to avoid becoming too biased in one direction or the other. Neither is wrong, but neither is completely right either.

Anything exciting you have been reading or testing recently?

3 Books from this year that stand out for me.

1) Factfulness by Hans Rosling, which challenges how we see and understand broad global social and wealth fare trends. Most of what we expect is quite different from reality. If we want to improve we benefit from understanding the current situation, else we risk wild or incoherent approaches.

2) Humble Enquiry by Edgar Schein, talks about how truly humble enquiry leads to powerful relationships, connections, and understanding. He spells out the challenges of western culture which tends to focus more on Telling, than on asking, and how this shift can help us build better teams and relationships.

3) Inferior: How science got women wrong by Angela Saini. Which explore how bias, affected many early anthropological and social studies, and we've continued to build on them. For example the notion of men as hunters, and thus providers, when in reality in many cultures woman were hunters, and regardless gathering provides most of the food and nutrition anyway. Powerful insights and perspective on how small shifts in perspective can have far reaching implications.

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Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks
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Image of abragad

Alessio Bragadini

Web community manager of agile42, trying to post relevant, informational, fun bits of content on the blog and social networks

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