Edele Gormley, Agile Coach

Hi, I’m Edele

I’m a Northern Irish Agile and Lean Coach working in Berlin, Germany.

Since before “Agile” became a buzzword, I’ve been working to help groups of individuals become high functioning teams, and inspiring people to identify the changes they could make to improve.

How?

I’ve studied software methodologies for over 12 years, worked as a software developer, DBA, software team lead, Scrum Master, Product Owner, and Agile Coach, and I’ve been through all the struggles each of these roles face. I love working with people, mentoring them, resolving conflicts, and inspiring change.

I like to think of processes as a “pick ‘n’ mix” stand - you wouldn’t fill up on all the same sweets when there’s all that variety to choose from. With this in mind, I’ve learned as much as I can about as many techniques as possible - “Agile” or otherwise - to be as flexible as possible for any challenge that may present itself. Every situation, and every team, is different, and there are no silver bullets - but that’s what keeps this field so exciting!

Okay, tell me more…

I can only coach so many people in person, but I try to write down a lot of learnings and experiences here. If you have something to say, or a question to ask, drop me a line!

There's more to Agile than Scrum and Kanban: 3 alternatives

Most people have heard of Scrum and Kanban, but what about the other Agile approaches?

When I was first learning about the various approaches to software development, Scrum wasn’t as prevalent as it is today—it was just one approach in a crowd of many. So what’s happened to the others? Why has Scrum surpassed them in popularity? Are they really not relevant anymore?

Let’s look at three such methodologies, …

Back to Basics Standups

I’ve been present at literally thousands of stand-up ceremonies, from co-located to completely remote to somewhere in-between. I still remember the very first one I attended. I walked into the room and grabbed a seat, that’s the way every meeting had gone in my experience. A colleague told me to stand-up, I laughed. “Oh we’re literally standing up?” I jumped to my feet and stood in a circle whilst …

The Why Question

“Value” might be an overused word amongst us Agile folks, but it’s a very important one. It helps to keep us focussed on the goal of particular exercises or rituals. Over the years I’ve observed people going through the motions for the sake of it—teams having a Daily Scrum just because “the Scrum Guide says to” without really understanding the aim of it, or performing another mindless …

Agile Lean Ireland highlights

I recently attended the awesome Agile Lean Ireland 2018 conference in Croke Park Dublin. Three of the talks in particular really stuck with me - the opening keynote and two in the afternoon, and I’d like to share my takeaways from them.

Opening keynote - Confessions of a change agent (Henrik Kniberg)

When I saw who was delivering the opening keynote of this conference, I knew I just couldn’t miss it! Henrik Kniberg …

World Cafés, Open Spaces, Marketplaces, Fishbowls - what on earth are they?

When I first attended a meetup and heard the facilitator say “we’re going to open the café” I assumed they meant they were going to start serving the drinks provided for the event. Needless to say I felt a little silly once I realised what it was. Of course, it’s a name of a facilitation technique for large groups, of which there are many, but this post will focus on the ones I come across most often. …

Start of Year Retro

The start of the year, ahhh, the perfect time to have a fresh start and forget all the pain of the year that went before. Or as I see it, the ideal time to run a retrospective to take the learnings from the past and use this to create goals for the year ahead.

I like to start by addressing any actions from the previous year (for example from previous retros) to identify what needs to be done to resolve them, and ensure the …

Boardgame as a Retro

When you play a game, you tend to come up with ways you can get a better score the next time you play, or how you might win. I never quite considered the correlation from board games to retrospectives until I witnessed it for myself.

Over lunch one day, I observed a team playing a card game known as ‘Tempel des Schreckens’ (“Temple of Horrors”). The rules of the game are simple - each player is assigned a character …

Creating an interaction map - tutorial

Interaction maps are a useful way to visualise the key dependencies that affect the work of your team. Often people within the team are aware of some of the key dependencies but mapping them out into one big diagram really helps to identify where the key communications and blockers lie. In doing so, you can focus on which interactions are absolutely fundamental to the team being able to deliver and essentially, to do their job, …

Forming a working agreement

Whatever methodology your team uses, a working agreement is a crucial component to set the expectations for what it means to be part of THIS team. I believe that every team, no matter if it has 2 or 10 people - should have one, and it should be adapted when you have new people join the team.

Here’s a quick low-down of how to create one and stick to it!

What?

Developed BY the team, FOR the team. They are a set of rules that …

Remote retros for distributed teams

I’ve met many agile advocates that simply won’t accept a job that involves working with remote teams. Whether that comes from fear or lack of experience, I feel it’s important to assure these people that it ain’t all that scary. Whilst this post focusses on my favourite ceremony, the retrospective, if you have any general questions on working with remote teams you can contact me here or on Twitter.

Tooling

There are so many …

7 tips to improve your presentations

You would think that as an agile coach I’d feel confident at giving presentations. Well, I was confused when my colleague suggested I attend presentation training but decided to give it a shot.

Truth is, I’ve never had any formal presentation training before, but I have refined my technique over the years. In school and university the tendency was to rely on PowerPoint (or similar) which is fine, but over time I …

Metrics

I’ve met various peers in an agile coaching role and there seems to be no general consensus on what metrics should be used, and with whom they should be shared. I often notice a lot of confusion when it comes to this topic, so I’d like to suggest some metrics that I like to use, and call out those I find less useful.

What is a metric?

A metric is essentially a measurement that can be used to assess ‘something’. Whilst there are …

Alignment on new teams via the Spotify Squad Health Check

Being a newbie to an organisation can be daunting at the best of times. Having a short space of time to learn the quirks of multiple teams, each with their own development focus and flavour of “Scrumban”, to enable you to identify where your skills are best utilised can be scary.

This is a challenge I recently faced and I thought I’d share what I’ve learned from this experience and how I adapted the Spotify Squad Health Check to …

Lessons learned: running retros for a brand new team

Recently I had the difficult task of running a retrospective with a team I had little knowledge about. I’d never met the team members before and had no insight into what this team works on or what their skillset is.

A difficult challenge, but one that I was up for, made somewhat easier by the team already working with agile and being familiar with retros, albeit having them fairly irregularly. If you don’t know by now, …

Agile & Lean in Plain English

I’m a big fan of explaining things using simple words that even those who aren’t fluent in English will be able to understand.

My belief is that the better you are at explaining something in plain terms, the better you understand it.

On my agile journey I have learnt that whilst people may understand the differences in Scrum and Kanban, they’re not so sure when it comes to explaining the principles behind them.

In the most …

Cancelling a sprint

I’ve been asked this question by others in the agile community, who have done some agile training but still have no idea how to go about cancelling a sprint.

Why cancel?

There are several reasons why you might be considering cancelling the sprint - it could be a change in scope; a major incident with another product; the realisation that the sprint goal is unachievable or something else entirely.

When to cancel?

If someone …

Letter Shaped People

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard the whole “we want T-shaped people” speech that a lot of “Agile” companies, HR and management have latched onto. Woohoo for capability matrixes! 

For those not in the know, here is a very quick overview:

I shaped people

These people are specialists. They know one thing really well, but lack knowledge in other areas of the business. As I work in web development, my …

Scrum vs Kanban

It depends.

I like to use the analogy - you wouldn’t go into a supermarket and buy only products belonging to one brand (unless you find that brand offers all the products you need at the best value with the best expiry dates for your needs). The same applies for any methodology - why limit yourself to “just” Scrum or “just” Kanban? Take the practices from several methodologies and stitch them together, and keep removing and …

Retrospectives

Retrospectives…that good ol’ Scrum ceremony that few people get right. I have observed other Scrum teams and Scrum Master’s in action - what is it with retros that people just don’t understand?

Perhaps it’s not really knowing what the outcomes of this ceremony should be, or a fear for it becoming more of a “therapy session” than a productive meeting.

I recently observed a retrospective at an organisation who were “doing …

Being a female dev

This is a subject I’ve been unsure whether to write a blog post on, and I’m nervous.

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions what it’s like to be a female in such a male-dominated industry. Recently I’ve realised that there are plenty of professions where one gender seems to “dominate” - take men who work in a library as one example! This post is a reflection back on my experiences, both good and bad, of being a young female …

I’m a barcode geek

Recently someone pointed out that I know a lot more about barcodes than your average Joe. Ever since I was a child, I’ve been obsessed with reading packaging - whether that be the ingredients list or hunting for typos. Back when I was at school the checksums on barcodes intrigued me, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when I worked in market research for the grocery sector that I became a proper barcode geek.

UPC vs SKU

So …

Agile: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

As a Scrum Master people tend to think that I worship Scrum and all things Agile.

There’s reasons when and when not to use agile methodologies which I won’t go into right now but here are some things included in such that do and don’t really work (for me):

The Good

There are some really key concepts in Agile that I couldn’t live without:

Retrospectives

These are extremely valuable especially when …