Inevitably Agile

somethings are just inevitable …

Our first Coaching Dojo

About 2 weeks ago we had our first Coaching Dojo. I tried to post this the next day, and then forgot totally! Better later than never 🙂

There were 6 of us in total and it was awesome! Our group is made up of 3 scrum masters, one developer, one product owner and one Operations Manager.


We started off with a quick into exercise and made idea cards for each other with: Name, Day Job, Company, Super Hero Power and Other interests. As most of us knew each other from previous circles this went quickly but also got us all chatting quickly.

The wine and snacks was also already flowing at this point – also helps the atmosphere 🙂

The next part was “Challenge Generation”. We had 10 minutes of silence to write on Index cards as many challenges as we could think of. We each came up with between 3 and 7. By this stage the wine consumption was making silence tricky …. lol

example of a challenge (from

“CTO thinks agile teams are wasting the time of business stakeholders and wants to stop their involvement with agile teams.”


I explained the basics of the format we would use for the night (adapted from this post:

  •  Split into 2 groups of 3.
  • There are 3 roles: Seeker, Coach and Observer.
  • Take 10 minutes in your group to tell the others about your challenges (the ones on the index cards) and select one challenge as a group to work with.
  • The person whose challenge it is becomes the first Seeker. Decide who will be Observer (takes notes of what is being said, body language etc) and who will be the Coach (coaches the Seeker). Do this for 5 minutes…
  • Then swap roles (move to left makes it quick and easy): Repeat as above for 5 minutes, then switch roles and again repeat.


NOTE: If you are the seeker – try and own the problem especially if it isn’t yours to start with – try and apply it to your company and put in some personal things, helps create a slightly different situation and stimulate more creative thoughts.

Everyone in the group of 3 should have been through all the roles. Now take 10 minutes to read through the observations everyone made. This is the fun part … there were lots of giggles and “Wow – do I really do that??”.


We then switched up the groups and repeated the whole exercise above with the new group.


At the end we had a 10-20 minute retrospective and asked the following questions:

  • What was the experience in your group?
  • What did you learn as Agile Coaches?
  • What did you like about the Dojo format?
  • What are your ideas for improvement?

As a group we decided to try another format next time – more one-on-one role playing with an observer. And in the following session another format group role-playing. We think all the formats will have value and be interesting.


I had an amazing time. Our group members have all been to Coaching Circles before and so there was already a trusting bond between us. The challenges were personal but no-one took them personally or defended them. Everyone was open to learning, and trying new ideas. All of this was a testament to how mature we all are in our daily agile practices. I look forward to our next session 🙂

4 responses to “Our first Coaching Dojo

  1. Gerald November 14, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    This was a good experience and definitely looking forward to the next session.

  2. Adrian November 15, 2011 at 10:21 am

    A great summary Sam, thanks, and see you tonight.

  3. Deborah Hartmann Preuss March 2, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Hi Sam!
    I am heading to Paris today for ACCFR. I am taking this blog, and Rachel’s with me… if we discover any interesting variations I’ll report back! Take care…

  4. Pingback: Facilitation Toolkit: Activities for Check In « Facilitating Agility

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