5 + 1 Questions to... Simon Claes

Simon Claes, Agile Coach and author of “How to become a future-proof leader” brings creativity and pragmatism during the transformations he supports. He has a background in lean, agile, scaled agile, design thinking and change management. Simon bundled his experience in a practical book with more than 40 practices to boost your team.

I met Simon at his Tech Talk, organized by Computer Futures where he talked about “Degrees in Agile Transformation”. During the talk, I was really inspired by the way how he explained practices to boost a team in very easy steps, supported by great visuals. So I was really happy when his books hit the stores.

1.What is Agile or the Agile Mindset for you?

I perceive agile as a way to think about work that focusses on bringing more value to customers through collaboration, adaptability and prioritization. It influences your system and the way you behave in that system. To work in agile, you need to adapt processes, tools and mindset. All three of them require attention to make your transformation a success.

2. What’s your favorite tool or method you use during your coaching?

I love to use short simulations (5-10 minutes max) as eye-openers. Combined with a retrospective they are a powerful way to help teams figure out what and how to improve.

3. What book or website would you recommend?

The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Lencioni is my all-time favorite. This relatively short book has a major impact on how I coach teams. Lencioni made me understand the importance of a strong foundation of trust. Whenever I start coaching a new team, I make sure to spend enough time on ‘getting to know each other’. I also build transparency through visual management, team agreements and feedback as soon as I can. 

4. What is essential for you during an Agile transformation?

Consistency on all layers in all departments. The only way to be successful is when the complete organization understands where we are going and adapts accordingly. For example: working with external partners in an agile way is difficult when procurement refuses to change the rules in old contracts (adapted to a waterfall way of working).

5. What is 1 Aspect of coaching Agile teams you like the most?

I love to tap into my creativity to design workshops that help teams discover ways to improve.

+1 What was the trigger to write your book?

When I started working as a freelancer on a bank’s transformation, I was exposed to a tremendous amount of information: I followed trainings, met many inspiring coaches and tried out a multitude of new ideas. I was scared to forget useful workshops, I needed my own system to save them. So, I started creating one-page drawings and collecting tips & tricks, which after two years work became my first book. 

Links: Collaborative Leadership http://www.collaborativeleadership.be/