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Agile and Scrum 2024
Online Conference

Jenna Brooks, AARP | "Harnessing the Power of an Agile Coach and Practitioner Community" | IIL's Agile & Scrum 2023 Online Conference

Harnessing the Power of an Agile Coach and Practitioner Community

Jenna Brooks

Agile Coach/Practice Manager, Agile Delivery

About the Presentation

This presentation will discuss AARP’s Agile journey for building a grassroots Agile coaching and team facilitator community early into our technology transformation, detail our approach, challenges, lessons learned, and present-day evolution. Participants will walk away with a lean blueprint for starting or evolving similar communities anchored in change management research, adoption strategies, instructional design constructs, and servant leadership principles. The presentation will outline how our Agile Coaching Community (now Agile Community of Interest or COI) developed key service offerings that are widely leveraged throughout the enterprise, such as:

  • Start-Up and Re-Start Team Workshops- Three half-day or two full-day workshops for new and existing teams that combines active collaboration and training to help teams define their vision, outcomes, roadmap, backlog, stakeholders, team agreements, and a sustainable path towards new ways of working in the spirit of the agile values.
  • Targeted Team and Stakeholder Workshops- Two-hour team workshops that facilitate discussions around continuous improvement or overcoming specific team challenges (for example, the Art and Science of User Story Design and Stakeholder Engagement Training and Collaboration).
  • Community Outreach- The Agile COI sponsors and facilitates several outreach activities in the form of Lean Coffees or discussions during our Radical Sabbaticals. At least once a year, AARP’s Information Technology Services department encourages all staff to dedicate themselves to a full day of professional development as individuals or in a group. The Agile COI has facilitated virtual Lean Coffees that ask participants to design the agenda in the session and timebox discussions on topics that have included facilitation techniques, product management principles, agile mindset, Kanban system design, Scrum framework, experimentation, and team maturity.

Key Takeaways

  1. Whether your organization is just starting its Agile journey or has been on an Agile journey for years, it is never too late to harness the power of a grassroots community to reinforce desired behavioral change and continuous improvement.
  2. A key differentiator for sustaining Agile Communities of Practice/Interest requires strong executive sponsorship and key individuals who have the willingness, desire (passion), and ability to become competent coaches and facilitators that can guide challenging conversations across a diverse set of contexts.
  3. An Agile Community of practice/interest that is well positioned to affect desired behavioral change and the relentless pursuit of continuous improvement should create a minimally viable suite of service offerings aimed at sharing lessons learned, tools and techniques, supporting practices, and engagement strategies across multiple roles (leaders, product owners, scrum masters, delivery team, and stakeholders).

About Jenna Brooks

Jenna Brooks is an award-winning strategic communications expert, change management advanced practitioner, and certified Agile coach with over fourteen years of experience successfully implementing the vision, mission, and goals of federal agencies, non-profit organizations, and private sector firms across the industries of information technology, finance, and engineering.

During the last four years, Ms. Brooks made a career pivot into Agile-Lean transformation and coaching after realizing that Agile values and mindset complement her expertise in change management and strategic communication to empower people to do good for society, their customers, their company, and their team. She formed AARP’s first Agile Community of Interest composed of agile team facilitators and coaches focused on successfully delivering business outcomes by modeling a broad range of servant leadership, conflict negotiation, mentorship, team building, training, and workshop development.