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Responsive Agile Coaching: How to Accelerate Your Coaching Outcomes with Meaningful Conversations Paperback – September 1, 2020

4.7 out of 5 stars 37 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Niall McShane is a coach at heart and throughout his career has applied coaching in many situations; sports, life, leadership and most recently agile and ways to work. There are two consistent themes in all of the coaching Niall has delivered over the years; performance (getting the outcome) and growth (learning to be better). These two elements are central to his work and life as a coach, consultant and person.

McShane has built his agile coaching career through hiring, training, and mentoring others to be coaches. He has done this while delivering agile coaching to a broad range of customers (business and technology). In a recent role he was the head of a coach academy at a large (30,000 people) Australian corporation undergoing a full transformation to its way of working; he trained and established a mentoring approach for 70+ agile coaches from beginner to expert.

Arie van Bennekum Co-Author of Agile Manifesto

Arie van Bennekum is one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto and Thought Leader. He is a pragmatic who embeds his pragmatism in structure, discipline and common sense. This eventually led to becoming one of the authors of the Agile Manifesto and an expert in the area of Agile Project Management, team facilitation, agile techniques and user involvement. Believing in his team, facilitating them to reach their best combined with end user involvement, have his focus when he speaks, presents, demonstrates and lectures about agility.

Today, as Wemanity’s Thought Leader, Arie focuses his energy on leading agile transformations for large international corporates and on researching better ways of integrating agile. Arie also is Chair of the Agile Consortium International, lecturer at universities and keynote speaker at conferences.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


For more than 25 years, I have been working in this system we call “agile.” In the beginning, I was experimenting because everything was theoretical. Later, I was working on making these approaches solid and reliable and most of all, delivering value to the client. What has always been a big question mark for me is the fact that although the end results are initially successful, clients had always an excuse to step back into their old habits―the old habits that resulted in non-delivery.

Later on, I detected the power of old paradigms deeply embedded in the organizations in areas such as decision making, documentation standards, career paths, bureaucracy, job descriptions, evaluation and reward, and last but not least―habits. Habits, once in position, are difficult to change (“it does not work for us”) and also define a person or company’s reflexes under stress. These deeply rooted habits make it difficult to help people change; it is common for people and organizations to revert back to their old ways. People bump into an issue and instead of fixing it in an agile way “forward,” they regress “backward” by reimplementing old habits. This problem offered a massive opportunity: the professional domain of the agile coach. 

Now there are a lot of people who call themselves agile coaches; however, and I am so sorry to say this, I often meet coaches who don’t know how to coach. Agile knowledge and experience is often already an issue, but the lack of coaching skills strikes me over and over again as a major issue within this professional domain.

The question is: what exactly are those coaching skills? I do not claim I have the one and only answer, but for me it is clear that “supporting people in finding their own way” is not the way. For me, an agile coach is like a sports coach. Sometimes you have to be directive and strict on the dos and don’ts, and sometimes you have to let teams struggle a bit and move forward on their own. Collective change (to achieve collective benefits) and tailor-made team improvements are both part of the support needed, and this is what the book is all about.

I recommend you read this book to learn. Read to see how this book can help you in your career. The help is out there, and a professional agile coach is always interested in the lessons and improvements forward that can be learned from another. Enjoy!

Arie van Bennekum
Co-Author of Agile Manifesto
The Netherlands

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Press (September 1, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 322 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 195036738X
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1950367382
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 11.9 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5 x 0.25 x 7.75 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 37 ratings

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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
37 global ratings
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Top review from the United States

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on November 24, 2020

Top reviews from other countries

Jim S.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - highly recommended
Reviewed in the United Kingdom 🇬🇧 on September 1, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended! Fantastic book for both experienced and new coaches.
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on October 22, 2020
Customer image
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended! Fantastic book for both experienced and new coaches.
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on October 22, 2020
Regardless of your job title, everyone needs great coaching skills, and this book brings you the latest thinking and techniques.

If you've got great Agile experience over a number of Agile Frameworks and a number of years, you're probably great at spotting problems and 'knowing' how to help your team/client. You're great at 'showing' or 'telling' people the answer.

This only works some of the time. What do you do when you meet resistance to change?

This book mostly focuses on what to do when you meet resistance/push back to your suggestions. Niall shows us many great coaching techniques to help us move the conversation from debate (argument) to dialogue and down into collective creativity and co-creating solutions (where resistance dissolves because you're no longer dictating to the client).

Niall builds upon many significant bodies of knowledge: Theory U, The Presencing Institute, Professional Coaching and combines Niall's huge experience of mentoring and coaching Agile Coaches as Head of a large Coaching Academy.

Mike Cohn himself (co-founder of the Scrum Alliance) said: "I read an early draft of Niall McShane's Responsive Agile Coaching and immediately began recommending it when asked for a good book on modern coaching techniques".

So basically, this is currently THE top book on Agile Coaching. I highly recommend this book.
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Gaiyasudeen A Syed
4.0 out of 5 stars Responsive Coaching, A catalyst's secret.
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on July 27, 2021
One person found this helpful
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Leo Inthapichai
5.0 out of 5 stars Add this to your collection of Agile Coaching go-to books!
Reviewed in Australia 🇦🇺 on September 14, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars A book about Agile COACHING!
Reviewed in Germany 🇩🇪 on December 7, 2020