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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Newsletters, blog posts, and wiki articles = augmented coaching

Well, that was a long unplanned hiatus. Since last blogging I spent another year in the Philippines working and playing--learned to scuba dive and spent almost all my spare time doing that and traveling around Asia--and returned to the states permanently in late 2016. I'm back at work coaching in the US and trying to be active at blogging again. To wit:

As an Agile Coach I need to find a way to augment face to face coaching and/or leave behind words of wisdom that people can refer to so the work we've done to understand and apply Agile concepts and practices does not evaporate.

When I was in Manila, one of the realities was distributed teams. We were spread around the world in Phoenix, New York, India and Manila and though we tried to meet in real time as much as possible it was truly difficult. (See the 15 hour time difference)

This meant that when we held a workshop or class some team members would miss out because they were sleeping or otherwise engaged in their personal life; and even when everyone was available and learned together some of the details might elude them later.

Similarly, once I've left an engagement I've found that people ask me questions about specific things because they don't remember or weren't ready to take in the information as it was provided at the time.

It occurred to me that providing additional information might bridge this gap, but when I shared links to articles or book lists... well, cue the crickets. For some reason, the follow through wasn't there. People would not click the link and read the article or blog post, let alone find a book to read.

So I experimented. I started producing an old fashioned monthly newsletter complete with the banner headline, date, edition number, and preview of next month's articles. The content was based on whatever we were learning at the time as well as the things that we were experiencing.

Then I branched out to wiki pages for specific practices and concepts that the people I was working with were finding challenging.

I wrote some of the content myself but also reprinted or excerpted material from the very links I'd sent previously. I was overt about it too; including attributes and links to the original right on the page.

I created blog posts doing the same thing.

And people started reading them.

I know because they commented and/or contacted me to say "thank you", "that was thought provoking", or "that was information I needed."

I still don't understand the why. I'm pretty sure I covered in person much of what I was including in these missives, but maybe it's the delivery, or the openness, or the left-brain/right-brain thing.

But if they're getting the information they need in a manner that allows them to assimilate and then apply it, who am I to question? If they'll read it in an in-house publication as opposed to following a link to the original, is that bad?

Most of the coaching engagements I've worked on have included hundreds of people and many teams. One or two coaches can only do so much and be available so many hours in a day; if augmenting our presence and reinforcing the message is possible you better believe I'm going to do it.

Suffice it to say, I have expanded my coaching toolkit to include a scheduled sweep of my favorite blogs, online sites, and books for those nuggets to share with my clients.