Adopting a Wellknown Framework as a Coach & Trainer with Scrum Expert, Rich Visotcky

Adopting a Wellknown Framework as a Coach & Trainer with Scrum Expert, Rich Visotcky

Brian Casel: [00:00:00] Hello, Brian Casel here. I'm the founder of Clarityflow, and I'm back with another conversation with a coach, his name is Rich Visotcky. He is a, an expert in the world of Scrum. That is, if you're not familiar with it, it's a, it's a software development framework methodology for organizing and communicating with your team in, in sort of a different way than the, than the traditional way that Um, software traditionally has been built.

Um, we get into it a little bit, but don't worry. This is not a super technical, uh, code related conversation. What I'm more interested in is Rich's practice as a coach and a trainer. We covered, uh, some really interesting aspects here. We, we covered, um, the combination, the, the pairing of formal training with coaching. How how training often, um, [00:01:00] spawns coaching engagements and sometimes the other way around where we're coaching kind of uncovers gaps and some knowledge gaps as Rich put it, which can open the door to new training sessions.

We also talked about, um, coaching in a, team context, rather than just a 1 to 1 coach client relationship. And most of Rich's work, he's working with large organizations and IT and technical teams and coming in as an outside consultant into these organizations to, um, help guide the way as they institute, uh, Scrum methodologies.

We also talked about, um, just that actually working with large organizations, which, which may have their own dynamics, different company cultures. Some, uh, company politics at play and how Rich as the coach, uh, can sort of navigate that with his clients.

Um, and then finally, um, how, uh, you know, Rich's affiliation with Scrum.Org, the organization behind this methodology, um, how he has, uh, he's, [00:02:00] he's involved there and how that's actually been um, the community and the platform that keeps him connected to this whole, uh, methodology and, and coaching practice. And that's how, uh, the, the main driver of, of Rich's, uh, client base.

So, um, yeah, a lot of, a lot of ground we, we covered here. I think it's a sort of a unique one compared to my other conversations. So, um, so yeah, I hope you enjoy it. Here's my conversation with Rich Visotcky enjoy.

Rich Visotcky, how are you?

Rich Visotcky: I'm well, Brian, how are you today?

Brian Casel: Doing good. Yeah. Great to connect with you again. Uh, we've, we've spoken a few times over the last, uh, year or two. You, you've been giving, you know, really great feedback on, on, Clarityflow and the evolution there. And, um, and I'm really fascinated to hear your, your flavor of coaching in the Scrum world.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, thank you for listening to that feedback. It's been awesome changes that have been coming back in too.

Brian Casel: Yeah. [00:03:00] Yeah. It's, it, you know, it's, I mean, this, we're not gonna get off into a sidetrack right, right away, but it's just like, so much, and, and I, I'm sure this is actually pretty related to the type of work that you do with clients, but, you know, as a small shop here with Clarityflow and, and evolving the product so much that it's so difficult to like, prioritize. What, which things should we build next or fix next? And, uh, and feedback from folks like you has, has been, uh, really help helpful in that process. For sure.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. Yeah. Appreciate that. And uh, like I it's, it's just that giving that feedback is, it's always kind of, I think, important. Right. And it's similar to coaching, right? You, you hear something, you give some feedback, you point out something that somebody maybe hasn't seen or heard before. Um, and then it's up to them choose what they wanna do with it.

I think that's, that's a really cool and powerful thing and, um, to, to watch you and I guess maybe others, um, come along and find some of the same benefits and insights has been neat. So [00:04:00] I assume it's not just for me,

Brian Casel: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Um, so, you know, the way that I like to start these conversations off and giving, you know, folks a sense of, of what you do and the type of work for clients.. Maybe an interesting perspective on that is if you can tell a story or two of like, you know, uh, one or two recent clients that you've worked with, um, who are they and, and, and what's their experience of working with you?

Why, who, who, who is a client and why would they come to you? And what kind of work do you do together?

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. So, um, . I, my work is a blend of both, um, training and consulting. Um, so the, the training side of things- I've been a professional Scrum trainer for, um, over a decade now. And, and that's usually like a, an inroads with people, right? Um, teach them something that they didn't know about Scrum, about product ownership, about, um, working on complex problems, uh, and just things that constantly adapt and change are un unknown until you, you [00:05:00] actually walk there. Right?

Um, and. And it's cool that to stuff people's heads through all these great ideas and then they say, how do we do it? Right, like how I actually make this stuff work. And that's often where the coaching side of things comes in a little bit more, where, um, I'm asked to either provide some guidance or, or help even, you know, from a pure coaching perspective, reflect back the environment that I see so that those can take ownership of it, you know, the people that I'm working with.

Um, and, and so it's been interesting to see that, uh, play out with, uh, one client of mine. They're an actuarial company here , um, based in, in Brookfield, Wisconsin, uh, uh, Milliman IntelliScript, and I've done some training with them for a while. And the, the coaching side of things has been interesting 'cause we don't actually have a direct coaching like agreement. Right?

Uh, I've done training for them, but I do get contacted by people from the classes around what would you think you know, like we're, we're running [00:06:00] into a certain kind of problem. What do we do about that? Or they'll tell me more about their overall transformational journey, which is cool 'cause like they, they're going beyond the scope of things that I do. Um, but they still, come back to ask me for How does this fit in? You know, What do you see in this bigger picture? And, and I, I think that that's really neat, right? Because I'm, I'm still engaging with them in that kind of way.

Brian Casel: You know, there are so many different, uh, little paths here that I wanna explore. I mean, O one is, is just so interesting how you ha it's, it's really like the, the combination of training, which sort of, uh, Uh, branches off into coaching after, after the training happens. Um, you're also working with companies and teams, it sounds like.

Uh, I wanna, I kind of want to unpack that dynamic a little bit. Um, but before we even get there, let's just go, uh, a little bit more basic. I mean, for folks who are not so familiar with software development, um, or technical teams and Scrum in general, can you just, you know, give us a, a quick, uh, quick overview [00:07:00] on, on what that's all about?

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, totally. Um, and, and Scrum, um, it, it was something that kinda came natural to me. I was in software development for, um, about 12 years and just used it, right? Always worked in a, in a fast and adaptive kind of way. Worked on one like really long plan-based project and a couple months, and I said, this is not for me. Like, we're just, we're not responding to the things that we're learning. And so-,

Brian Casel: like up upfront, like some project leader wrote up a long detailed document of, and of how this big project, this, this product should be built and then everyone just like follows the spec a year or, or whatever,

Rich Visotcky: Yes, exactly. And, and when you, you know, when you're doing things like, like building a building, you, you need, you need the spec. If you're doing something repeatedly, over and over again, you're trying to, to go through the same process. You need a spec and you're gonna follow it.

But when you're building something for the first time or when you are trying to understand what it is that your customers need. And, and those could be like, you know, like for your product, right? External customers, Clarityflow, [00:08:00] who's their customers or something. Or even internal, right? Just a, let's say you're an HR group and, and your customers are your employees, right? And you're trying to figure out what policies might we use or shouldn't use, like that we actually wanna take away and, and how do they affect our whole organization?

There's a lot of stuff that you can plan and as soon as you know, you, you present everyone with whatever it was that you decided. That's when you get all this feedback, ah, we love this. Ah, this doesn't work. Can we have more of that? Right. And, and Scrum is just, I would say it's just a way to help manage that. Right? You work in one month or less chunks of time to build something that you could put into use. Right? And it doesn't have to be something large. We're not talking like the whole product. And, and especially in, in terms of software process, whatever, you can probably roll out incremental pieces and updates all the time.

Um, and so Scrum just gives you a framework to have the right conversations with the right people at the right time to kind of get that shared understanding of where we are um, [00:09:00] with within our developments what we think would be useful to go forward towards next, and then really focus in on, let's not, let's not try to build everything. Let's focus on building this thing right now and actually validate was it useful and beneficial before we go build something else.

Brian Casel: So really like, kind of boiling down, what, what would seem like a, like a mountain of to-dos and tasks for a big software product or, or project that needs to be built kind of, um, Boiling it down into like smaller chunks, but I guess maybe not. I, I, my understanding of it, um, is kind of, uh, a lot less focus on the rest of the chunks and more of a focus on the here and now. Like, what's most important first, and let's just take this for a couple of weeks and focus on that.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, there's, um, -

Brian Casel: and learn from it. And then, and then adapt.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, and I would say not, not an absent of, um, a vision of where to go, right? Because it's, there are sometimes Scrum actually backfires with teams where they [00:10:00] focus too tightly. I. Right. And, and that's actually a problem that I coach a lot of groups with is, Hey, we just keep getting fed stuff for like right now. And it just feels like everything's changing on us all the time. We don't really seem to have any direction on where we're going. And, um, and you know, Scrum and just product development in general has the concept of like, what is your vision for this product? You know, what goal do you have that you're trying to achieve? How we get there doesn't matter as much as the outcomes that we're going for.

So yeah, that, that same part of . What is the general thing we're trying to do? And then yes, let's focus on what can we affect right now? And then the other decisions, let's, let's avoid making decisions until we have to, is kind of the way it right?

So that you don't over put too much work into things that won't come to pass.

Brian Casel: Got it. it. I mean, I can, I can probably spend the rest of this podcast just to dig in on the, on the technical side of, of software development and, and Scrum in general. But I think, you know, what's more interesting for, uh, coaches, whether you're technical or not, [00:11:00] is um, kind of the inter interesting way, way that you've sort of like connected the dots.

We started to talk about this a little bit off air before we started recording here. Um, so tell me about like You know, because behind this methodology, there's this sort of like organization, like how did you get involved in that? Um, and uh, and yeah. Can you-

Rich Visotcky: Um, so I, I've been like, say, connected to, for, uh, as a trainer for over a decade now. Um, just as well as, as a consumer, um, for another three years before that I believe had my first Scrum class. Um, and I've used Scrum, uh, earlier than that still.

But generally has a mission of, um, helping teams, uh, people in teams solve complex problems. Um, and I actually work as a staff member for them as well. So it's kind of this bi-directional relationship. I use their materials to, to conduct my business. And they're a client that I help build more things for, um, [00:12:00] including, um, coaching offerings, which we're leaning into next. Um, and. It's, it's a, it's a cool organization that is trying to help people just live in, in the world the realm of complexity in the realm of knowledge work. And the kind of things that people struggle with all the time, where there is no just plan, do this and you will be successful. Um, that's, that's where we work. Um, so

Brian Casel: Got it.

Rich Visotcky: yeah.

Brian Casel: So so I mean obviously you're, you're heavily involved with itself, um, but then how does that sort of like translate to your private practice?

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. So from my private practice standpoint, um, it, it's mostly translates into me running courses both publicly and privately for, um, people. Usually the the individuals come to public classes. Right. You know, I'll get, uh, singles or maybe groups of three, uh, that are coming to public classes and I run a couple of those a year, maybe 10 or so a year.

Um, and then private classes where sometimes that's from either a [00:13:00] previous client, Right. Um, who has gone on to a new opportunity? Those are my favorite. 'Cause that's just, if I'm doing the right thing for them and helping them grow and get, you know, more out of their situation and take ownership of it, when they have a problem, they might come back to me. And that's, that's what I, I love about the kind of work that I do and helping me to build my business.

Uh, and then sometimes it's-

Brian Casel: You, you would work with a client in when they're at one company and then they sort of like move on somewhere else.

Rich Visotcky: yeah.

Brian Casel: And it's like, Hey, I worked with this, this really great guy, Rich who who has, who can really help with this sort of problem when they're at a new organization.

Rich Visotcky: Exactly, exactly. You know, like, um, I, long time ago I worked with Scotiabank. Um, so it was, uh, you know, one of Canada's big four banks were there, right? And taught lots of people that worked with a lot of people inside of their, their IT departments. Um, and one eventually moved on. He reached back out to me and he's like, Hey, working with a new, a new company. Got another team. Um, we seem to be all talking past each other. Can we get on the same page? [00:14:00] Right. Uh, I'd like, I thought you did a really good job of getting us all through the material in the same way so that we, we had that shared understanding. So can you do that over here? Right.

And, and so those are great clients 'cause it's like, um, you know, they got some success with it and then they want to help bring that to the, the new teams that they're working with.

Brian Casel: Got it. Can you tell me a little bit more about like what it's like to work with a team? So I, I'm assuming that these are relatively large companies with many employees, and then they have a large technical team that sort of needs to be all working together on the same page toward, toward the, a similar goal.

So like what type of situation would come up where, where somebody on the team, like a team leader starts to initiate, like, I think we need to adopt Scrum, or we need to bring in a Scrum expert. Um, yeah. What, like what's happening in that dynamic?

Rich Visotcky: Oh, um, you know, the, sometimes it comes from the bottom up. Which I think is good, right? Uh, there is, there's teams that are just saying, [00:15:00] Hey, um, I was doing this before. I kind of got my manager a little interested. They think that we might be able to, to do this a little bit better either 'cause we wanna manage, uh, our funding a little bit better. Uh, we're not, we're not flowing all that well. We're not communicating that well. What can we do to, to help that go along?

Uh, sometimes it's, it's a manager that's kind of bringing it top down, like I was using this before. Our teams are really struggling. They're not taking much ownership of things. I want to give them the opportunity to actually take that ownership before, you know, handing them work.

Um, so let's bring that in. Um, sometimes it's a, just a big initiative, you know, like we've, we did it in one pocket and it it should work everywhere. And it, it doesn't always, but that's okay. . It's, you know, gonna learn what that is. Um, and, and so that's usually like what brings in the training and then the, the coaching perspective of like, why would somebody engage with a professional to get that kind help is, is, like you said, they, they hear something very simple.

Scrum guide's, like 12 pages. If you were to print it out, it's, it's not very [00:16:00] large. Yet the implications in there and what it means to to take collective ownership of work. Right. How do we get people to do that or to lean into the sense of, um, since we can't have a perfect plan from the start, we also don't know how long that plan's gonna take and trying to help people understand how that matters less, right?

When you're focused on delivering something of value all the time, um, there and, and hopefully doing that without any end, then trying to figure out into the future, what is the end date doesn't matter as much. Right? And so that's just, that's a struggle for a lot of people because they bring, you know, old baggage, right or wrong, you know, whatever with them, uh, about a way of working. And they just kind of need to experience something a little bit different and work with each other and a little bit different to get there. So that's where I come in from that angle sometimes.

Brian Casel: Huh. And so like how, what's, what does the structure look like? So, I mean, you, you talked about the, the trainings, [00:17:00] um, and then there's some coaching, uh, you're working with teams, you're working one-on-one, I guess in some cases. How does it all fit together? Or maybe if you can take us through a typical client engagement, like from start, like how does it usually begin and then, and when do, when are you working with teams as a group? When do you break off into one-on-ones and things like that?

Rich Visotcky: Sure. Um, I think the best ones often start off with like one class right there. There's a, a group that wants to get together that is looking for, um, some kind of training and they, they think, you know, if we just get to this, this core training, we'll pretty much be good to go. And usually the training opens up so many more windows for them that they have more questions or they get, um, excited and they want to produce a lot of change internally, but no one else seems to understand it, right?

So they'll bring the next seven teams on for training. Right? And so we can all at least speak the same language. That that's kind of what training is to me, is we all have this, the same dictionary, we all have the same set of tools, right?

Brian Casel: And that's [00:18:00] delivered in like a live workshop?

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. Yeah. So a lot of those are um, uh, live, you know, live sessions. Um, virtual or in person. Uh, I used to do tons of in person. Now I do tons of virtual, uh, which is nice 'cause I go back out that back door and I'm home. Right? ,

um, and. Uh, so usually that, that's live, right? So facilitating a lot of live questions as they're coming up. Um, I try to combine that with additional materials, right? Because if I, for me to tell something to somebody that they could . Watch like seven videos on or go read or whatever. Um, I don't know if it's the best use of their time. Right. What would be better is for them to actually try to consume some of these materials and come with questions so we can talk through those details and in intricacies. But also the, the classes are a lot of, like, Put this into practice, like, here's a scenario, go try something out. Or in one of our classes, I actually want you to build a product as a team, and I'm gonna act as like, let's say, a stakeholder there and tell you what I like about it and what I don't like, and [00:19:00] send you on all kinds of different directions. And you have to figure out how to leverage the framework that we gave you how to adapt, right?

So, So that part kicks things off. Um, and then I think what usually, you know, plays out nicely there for the next set of engagements is that then we get into some kind of coaching arrangement. Um, to me the best ones are, the best coaching sessions are when a client is willing to take on some ownership, right?

And when we set up an agreement saying like, Hey, I'm not here to do the work as a Scrum master or necessarily, or to, to do the work as a developer or product, or, I'm not gonna tell you what direction to take your product. It's yours, right? The, for the best way for this to be successful and for this change to, to, be sustainable going forward, is that you have to take some ownership.

And if I'm not willing to get, if I'm not gonna get that, I'm often hesitant about getting into a situation, right? Because they, they can devolve. I dunno if you, if you've ever talked to anyone else in that kind of situation from a coaching perspective before,[00:20:00]

Brian Casel: Yeah. I mean, um, You know, one thing that I hear a lot from coaches, uh, different types of coaches is like the, the hesitancy or, or just flat out, they won't take on clients if they don't feel like the client is coachable. Right. Um, or, or not receptive to, to feedback and change and, and, and things like that, which completely makes sense to me.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. Um,

Brian Casel: I, I would imagine, because I've never, I've worked in smaller and, and larger companies before, but like very briefly. I've mostly been independent most of my career in very small remote teams. So I'm kind of curious to know in your experience, like how do these large company dynamics and politics and, and like employees and, and their management, and now you're bringing in like an external, uh, scrum consultant, like how do those dynamics, uh, come into play in your work?

Rich Visotcky: Uh, all of 'em. They come in a lot. Um,

Brian Casel: Yeah.

Rich Visotcky: Oh yeah. A whole lot. I think what's, it's really interesting to see company [00:21:00] culture. And how different it can be from different organizations and what their background Right. Um, you know, research based organizations, they want a lot of data before they're willing to make a movement. Right.

And sometimes we're trying to push ahead saying, it would be quicker to put something out there and actually learn from that than to get the research to choose which thing to go do.

Right. Um, and we're like a manufacturing company, right. I worked within an IT organization for a manufacturing company one time, and strict tolerances were kind of worked into internal contracts and a lot of politics about approvals were coming up.

Um, and, and that can be stifling sometimes when I'm pushing them to go and try something different. Right. To, to go a little further or To, To, so when I'm acting as a consultant, right, really pushing that open and saying like, you need to go and make a change here.

Or as a coach, sometimes I might actually reflect back onto them saying, you, you see why this is a problem? Right? Like your own policies are getting in [00:22:00] the way. So what do you wanna do about that? Right, that you're gonna be stuck here or you need to make a change, what's it gonna be?

Um, and as, what's the benefit though of me being external is, uh, I can push a little bit more. Right? I'm, I'm not part of the culture there. I can, I can, say the things that maybe people wanna say, maybe that they don't want said at all. Um, but just to really expose it so that at least something, you have the option of doing something right.

Brian Casel: And I really liked what you just sort of touched on there and, and I've had the same sort of approach in like sales conversations or um, or consulting conversations where it's like you don't necessarily need to tell the person. What to do or, or, spew a bunch of benefits and, and key talking points to them.

It's really just about asking questions and guiding them down, down a path to help them coach themselves in a way or, or help them, you know, uh, verbalize what they know to be true. And, and maybe [00:23:00] when, when they say it themselves and they come to that own conclusion, you just sort of ask the right questions to get them there. Um, it can even be more powerful and, and they're willing to actually take action on it.. Ownership of it.

Rich Visotcky: I, I think my first coaching class eight or nine years ago, I guess, now, um, it was just pure professional coaching and it was shocking to watch how many times that the, the coaches, like we were acting as coaches and coachees all the time with each other, trying to help each other out through problems. And we're all experts in the same domains. Um, so the the -

Brian Casel: Was this within Scrum or is this other..

Rich Visotcky: Uh, this was, uh, actually it was a class in the Agile Coaching Institute, so it's still in the Agile space. Um, but it was with, um, uh, some people that had, uh, worked with Co-Active Coaching, uh, in the past. So, so really, I mean, like a, a professional coaching stance. Not, not nothing about agility, nothing about software, you know, product development there, just working to coach people through things, um, which was great. Right? [00:24:00]

But it was because it was through the Agile Coaching Institute, there were lots of actual focus and software focus people coming into it. And all of them wanted to say what they would do or what their experience was or anything immediately upon hearing the story. And that was the one thing we were trying to train out of ourselves, is that you didn't have to be a domain expert in order to provide useful coaching, but you have to be able to understand how to, to help hold that accountability with someone. And how to help them e expose and reflect back the problems in different kinds of ways. Right. And give them the opportunity to, to solve the problem. 'cause they, they probably have the skills to do it. Uh, they've just gotten themselves stuck along the way.

Brian Casel: Hey, just a quick break to tell you about ClarityFlow. It's the software tool loved by coaches and their clients for communicating asynchronously in threaded conversations using video, audio, or text. My team and I designed ClarityFlow for the modern day coach. [00:25:00] It lets you give clients a single place to engage with you and all that you offer through your coaching business.

Run coaching groups, cohorts, and communities using our spaces feature. Create interactive courses using our programs feature. Build your coaching library with templates and reusable content. And sell access to your coaching programs with subscriptions or one time payments. Customize colors and connect your domain to give clients a fully branded experience.

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I mean, that actually brings me to something that I, I usually bring up near the end of these calls. Um, and as, as a coach and your.. You're being hired to be the expert, to be the, the guide. Um, [00:26:00] I mean, I can't help but think that there must be some level of imposter syndrome that that comes into play where it's like, well, how, how does this guy, or, or you know, how does this, how do you know, have all the answers, you know? Um, but what you just said there, it's like, it's not, it's really not about you. It's about guiding and, and asking the right questions and letting them take ownership of it.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. Um, what -

Brian Casel: How do you think about that?

Rich Visotcky: uh, I , I've, I have suffered from imposter syndrome many times, throughout my career and probably still do sometimes. Um, but I, I've. I think there's a couple of things that I've gotten more comfortable with. Um, I've, I've been more, I've gotten more comfortable in telling people that I, I don't know.

Right. But you do.

And, and that's what's important here. Like, you know, something. And as you just mentioned, if we can work through this together, um, and you can explain it to me. , um, then maybe you'll understand better how to go and do it yourself. It's like, you know, if you're teaching somebody something, you sometimes learn more about it than [00:27:00] they do.


Brian Casel: Absolutely. Yeah.

Rich Visotcky: So in that sense, uh, if you can get, if you can figure out how to explain it, sometimes it just, it clicks and that's really cool. And I think the, other. important aspect, um, which just popped outta my head, , um, is uh, is telling, oh, telling just stories. Like I, I have expertise over my experiences, right? And um, and I have stories that are totally different than, than Brian, than your stories and then anyone that's listening. Um, but we have, we can probably find common ground, we can find that frustrating time where we had an opportunity to go move something ahead, but somebody was just blocking us. right.

Over and over again, and it's just, it feels like you're just pounding against the wall and like, what do you, you're looking for that crack or something in there. Right. And so when I can tell that story, or I can share a story of, of failure, right? Of just, um, of being in a review and, and suddenly having nothing to show and, and standing in front of 70 people and [00:28:00] talking that through right. Of, um, what's it like? To, to fail in front of, in front of the people that are paying for this thing. Right? And how do you turn that into something useful then that can be something that they can pull back, right? When they get into their moment of, oh, I had a story too. Right?

And so I'm trying to help people come to terms with their own stories A lot of times too is, Hey, you're gonna get through here and every experience you come, uh, into later will probably be different. How do you pull something core from that experience to guide you into the future, to guide somebody else, to help mentor somebody else, grow a little bit further, uh, and lean into that.

Brian Casel: Love it. Um, let's get back into like sort of like the structure of, of things you're, you know, between your trainings and the engagement, the coaching engagements. I'm curious to know, like maybe in the, in the last couple of months or last couple of years, what kind of changes have you have you made or things that [00:29:00] you've learned about how you, you deliver your services that, that have been like, you know, maybe turning points and, and, and, you know, things really started to work out well or, or like, you know, just a lot smoother once you made these changes in your approach.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, thanks. I, I think, um, uh, the, a combination of both synchronous and asynchronous has become a lot more apparent to me, um, right, because from a training perspective, I was always doing things synchronously and I found ways to do it a little bit more asynchronously.

But I think the, the interesting concept that has come up, um, is, is that when I was coaching people a couple years ago, I was often traveling to their, their site. Uh, sometimes I was here within the state, sometimes that was, you know, a plane flight away. And so I, I'm kind of captive, right? I, I have, I'm there, I'm, you know, here for maybe some meetings. I'm here for other times, and I always kind of felt like, how is that being used most appropriately by my clients. Um, and 'cause I don't just wanna [00:30:00] walk in and say, well, I've got nothing to do, so I'm just gonna, you know, sit in on your meeting and start speaking outta turn. That doesn't help. Um, and maybe it does, but I didn't feel like it helped.

Um, so I often felt like I was not always getting the most use out of the time. Um, so I'd start doing more asynchronous kind of things. So usually it was just email. At the time. Right? Um, so what could we do in that kind of way? Um, we're sending documents back and forth to each other with some comments.

And so, but there, there is a coaching aspect that comes along into that of, I don't have a lot of time. It takes a while to read and consume these things. Um, so let me go and put that out. I. And then see what, how that sits with somebody. Sometimes it takes 'em a day or two to figure it out and then they come back. But you know, the ball's kind of back in their court and when you're doing coaching, that's really powerful.

And, um, going virtual that I've felt even more of that, right? Because to sit in on somebody else's meeting in their company for two hours, virtually. Um, you know, do I, do [00:31:00] I interrupt and take over everyone's time? You know, how much do I just consume and report back later? And sometimes it's really valuable, right? If, if the structure is focused on, Hey, we're here to leverage Rich and some of his, um, understanding of what he, he sees, uh, based off of what's going on around us, or to leverage his expertise, do that. But then the rest of it is, it's better when it's kind of ad hoc. 'Cause then people can go and do their work and when they see the issue come up. Right. You know, and we respond in time.

Brian Casel: Yeah, I mean, and, and it's, I I can imagine that it's so, um, dependent on.. So if you're doing a live session, especially in person, on site, it's so dependent on kind of what's going on that day. And, you know, maybe the, the stakeholders involved. They, they might be having a great day, they might be having an off day, you know, you don't like, um, are they, are they busy? Is their mind somewhere else? Um, whereas with asynchronous, it what I, I, I keep [00:32:00] trying to verbalize this in different ways, but I, of course, it's more convenient. You can deal with time zones, you can have more space, but to me it's more about the freedom and the space to consume and think and research and prepare your next response. Right?

Um, so it, it, it, there's the convenience factor, but it's also like, you know, Rich just sent me this thing. I'm gonna kind of think on it and maybe take a walk, maybe come back to him tomorrow once I have something really useful to come back to, or as you said, um, maybe putting it into practice in real time. Like, let's, let's wait out the week and see when a situation like this bubbles up. And then that's, that's a moment to kind of capture or, or communicate around. Right.

Rich Visotcky: That, that last part I think is really cool. And actually it's, it's what I've been spending, I'd say, more of my time than less over the past three years doing. Um, I was trying to help establish a program in late 2018, 2019. And then we started really [00:33:00] going into it in earnest in 2020, uh, about like, could we validate the working proficiency of Scrum masters that we didn't actually work with, right?

Because there's Scrum master or has a lot of assessment based certifications, knowledge type things of, um, How would you answer these questions? That tells us that you know enough about Scrum to be able to, you know, be a, a pretty competent Scrum master, but how have you done it is a totally different thing.

And we started with a lot of synchronous discussions, right, of just, um, asking questions, trying to see what they're doing, learning more about it, kind of getting a sense for, yeah, you seem pretty good here, but I'm not so sure. So . Let me, let me ask you some things to go do to prove to me that the things I thought you were good at, you're actually good at. And then I need to expose a little bit more. So lemme give you a couple things that I want you to do to, to kind of tease out, do I have the right opinion, you know, the right opinion here, or can we help you grow there? Um, and what became clear over time is sort of that almost like a front loading of an asynchronous conversation that let's [00:34:00] have a synchronous conversation to say, to talk about outcomes and where we might want to go in a relationship and then say, Hey, I think here's like four things that you should consider looking at and working on when the time's right, right?

And so it, it's not even so much of a, that constant delay response. But it's really a, here's something for you for that when you're ready and you come back to it. Like you just said, let's see. Let's get our team to go through this for the week and then come back and say, oh, wow, yeah, actually this really helped. And, but you need to reflect it with somebody, right? You need to get that, that feedback loop closed to say, did I, did I really see that this was as good as it was? And telling that story then back to a coach, right. Uh, so that they can help you see more in that story is immensely valuable for like that deeper level of growth.

Brian Casel: And, and also kind of like getting it when it's fresh, right? Like, this happened this morning. Let me, let me tell you about it, rather than trying to remember back something that might have happened weeks ago,

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, for like the next [00:35:00] live coaching session kind of thing. It's like, no, no, no, no, no, just, just tell me now. Record yourself, right? Write it down, whatever it needs to be, just so you've got that kind of the evidence captured of what happened and you're ready to go and, and build upon that evidence in the future.

Brian Casel: And then the other side of the coin, of course, is, is you, right? Like how are you managing your time? And how, like, how has that changed as, as you, as you mentioned, like you recent years that you've obviously moved to a lot more virtual, um, and this move toward, uh, kind of a hybrid between the, the sync, the live calls and the asynchronous stuff.

What does that look like on your end? How are you receiving messages in your inbox? How do you, uh, manage your day and your time? Um, because, because I, I think that's another thing from a lot of coaches who are sort of new to the idea of incorporating asynchronous aspects into their, into their practice. It can seem like, well now you're opening yourself up to just a barrage of requests and messages and, um, [00:36:00] how do you sort of manage that?

Rich Visotcky: Um, I'm, I'll admit, I'm still getting better at it,

Brian Casel: Mm-hmm.

Rich Visotcky: Uh, but I, I think . Um, what's helped me, honestly, just being independent from the past seven years. I, I've learned how to manage my time, right? How my time is, my time, and, and that's a really important thing to me. Um, and I think that that maybe looks different for, like I said, some new coaches, um, or, or internal coaches. Uh, if you're doing work inside of an organization and, and you are like a full-time job kind of thing, but even then are, are you, are you really doing like work with other people full-time or are you sometimes reading, trying to, to gather, you know, new information for yourself that might help you, uh, or go to workshops, you know, to help you, uh, work with others.

So, so I do a little bit of that every week, right? I'm, I'm reading various articles. I'm going through books that I've read before, just to get a new sense of context. Um, I'm trying to go to different workshops. Um, but from the, the flow, the incoming flow, um, something that I've [00:37:00] experimented with, uh, is not just respond immediately, right? Because, um, it is asynchronous, right? And the world expects instant gratification on a lot of things. And I try to temper that readily by saying, you know, um, uh, by either giving, uh, like a service level expectation to say, Hey, you know, about 80% of the time I respond within two days, right? So, but sometimes I'm I'm on vacation or I'm just, I'm in a class or I'm busy doing something. So it, it's not always, but you'll probably see a response from me in about two days.


Brian Casel: You know what, and I, I find that most people, especially, you know, professionals, that understanding is sort of baked in to the act of messaging asynchronously, right? So

Rich Visotcky: I'm not sure I agree.

Brian Casel: I mean, of course there, you know, there are different cases, but I mean, for example, I. Customer support. Right.

If I, if I'm using a product and I need customer support, a lot of these companies are offering like, live chat. And this is just a [00:38:00] pet peeve of, of mine where it's like, if you're offering live chat, I actually want it to be live. Like, if I send a message, I would like a, a response back, like within minutes 'cause you're telling me it's, it's a live chat.

But in my experience, like I generally don't even want to use live chat. I would much prefer an asynchronous option where I can submit a message or send, send a message, send an email, submit a form. And I know that by sending that, like I can move on with my day and I'll expect a, a response within a business day or, or two.

Um, I, I don't know. I mean, I, I guess like different clients, uh, handle this differently, but I guess just nature of it, it's like you're, you're not there live face to face. It is asynchronous, right? So,

Rich Visotcky: Well, and I, and I think that that's another thing that, um, that a coach or any consultant should be doing with a client when they're gonna get engaged with them. It is starting to set up, you know, um, one, just what what do we agree upon? Who's really owning what [00:39:00] kinds of things? Um, what is our expectation for just sharing information? Communication, right? Because like, these are, these are just some core contracts that help us communicate better. Not they're, they're there to provide just enough boundaries to make it more effective. Right.


Brian Casel: This is how we will work together, how we will communicate.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah. Yeah. So, you know, when you're doing that, it, it's kind of important. 'cause as well, uh, different countries, different regions have to, and cultures have different expectations on that too.

And, um, like I am, uh, it, it's more ad hoc and I think, but, um, I'm, I'm constantly chatting with a person, um, in Japan who's doing coaching out there, right, uh for an organization. And she's talking about the struggles that she's running into just culturally, right? And, and, um, and she's more integrated with that culture, right, than I am. Uh, but, uh, to hear that, and then, you know, the, at least for us, and I thing is she'll put out a message sometime in the middle of the night. And if I see it and I have time to respond the next day, I, I will. [00:40:00] And if not, at some point, you know, I'll get back to her. And we, we kind of, we know that that time zone difference, um, is both an impediment and a benefit, right? Uh, especially you lean into the asynchronous side of things. Whereas if you're, if it's like, I know we're in the same time zone, we should be responding, you should be there. Um, that, that's a little bit harder, I think sometimes to overcome.

Brian Casel: Got it, got it. Huh. Um, as we sort of wrap this up, I mean, we're recording this, uh, near, you know, second half of 2023. Of course will be listening to this or watching it any time. But, um, what are you sort of excited about right now this year, looking ahead to the rest of this year? Any sort of, um, trends or work habits or new evolutions in the way that you approach coaching with your clients?

What, like what are you really excited about right now?

Rich Visotcky: I think, um, two things are really exciting to me. Uh, one is that with all the, the economic turmoil that has gone on in organizations recently, um, it it's just, it's [00:41:00] made people pretty, pretty afraid, right? I, I would say that, um, am I gonna have a job? Can I get a job? Right? And, and even organizations, can I hire people? Right? Because they're struggling with . Can I work remotely? Do we have to be in person? Do we find the right skills? Right?

So you see it from all these different angles and um, and while I think there's still, uh, pieces of that happening, it's starting to to edge away, uh, at least from, from what I'm seeing when I'm talking to companies that they're starting to stabilize. Maybe they're not hiring right now, but they've got a team and it's a team of some new people and it's a team of some different, of some existing people, and they all restructured internally. And now they gotta figure out how they wanna work together. And that's a great opportunity for, for them to work through their, their own situation and as well, for a coach to come in and say, Hey, I'm, I'm not here to, you know, to own this and, and tell you what to do, but I can help smooth this out. I can help you, um, get to cohesion a little bit quicker as a team of people, um, than not.

So I, [00:42:00] I'm excited for that. I think that there's gonna be a little bit more movement and opportunity in those kinds of places.

Um, I think the other thing that, that I'm excited for is, um, like I said, at least with the work I've been doing with, we're trying to, to launch a series of, um, uh, or like a platform of work assignments and, and just, uh, people that can help support them in a coaching type sense of, uh, doing this more asynchronous style of, of learning and development, um, to get it to, I guess, um, be okay with the fact that not all learning happens in the classroom. Right.

There's so much learning that happens when you're doing the work and yet, um, you know, if somebody can't, um, can't afford a coach to come in full time, doesn't want to pay somebody to sit there and it's like, what are you doing? You just look like you're doing your taxes. Well, I am and I'm listening to you. It's how you stop paying attention to me, right, that kind of thing. Um, to, to have this asynchronous way I think can support digital organizations right um, [00:43:00] from around the world. Right.

You know, so that coaches aren't just limited to, you know, their town. They can really stretch out, um, and benefit people and, and have the whole world be exposed to these great people that can help them grow, uh, in a very proactive way. Right. You know, it's that by giving some people assignments to go. And take their knowledge and just refocus their work a little bit differently, reflect on that and build up this, this kind of portfolio of work over time. Right? Almost like a, like you would a, a resume or a cv, but um, or more likely, um, like an artist's portfolio, uh, but of your actual work and that you can pull back upon that you can show evidence of, that you can use to continue to grow in the future.

Brian Casel: I mean, I just love the idea of like, this, you know, how has not only put, put out these concepts and frameworks and methodologies on, on how to work, but really bringing together a worldwide community around this of practitioners of teams, coaches. Um, [00:44:00] and it's, uh, it, it just seems, uh, like a really great thing, you know, Uh, team members coming in and, and seeking that guidance, and then folks like you there to, uh, to kind of put it all together and connect the dots.

Um, and I just really love that ob obviously it's a big focus for, for us at Clarityflow, but the, the combination now of courses and training with coaching, um, you know, they, they really go hand in hand. Like you, like you say like, like training kind of stems or, or coaching stems off from, from training. It's, it's like a natural extension. Um, and, um, and something that we're seeing a lot with, with coaches taking like, uh, personalizing training programs, taking bits and pieces and, and matching them up, personalizing them to each client, um, and then having, uh, individualized coaching off of that. It, it makes total sense. So the, the model that, that you do with your clients and with with uh, um, I think it's a beautiful match, you know.

Rich Visotcky: I [00:45:00] think it's really neat to see the, the other side around too, right? As, as we advance this current product that we've been working on, um, we're also looking to expand our community, right? We've, we've got a great set of people who are experts in Scrum. We have a lot of deep experience in it and are wonderful at, at training and facilitating you know, these concepts, right? You know, in, in very focused settings.

Um, but we've always had at our core the concept that we should be working with organizations more directly in a consultative or coaching perspective, or actually being, you know, uh hired and, and part of these organizations to drive change from within, right, and be a part of it so we know what that feels like. So we have more stories, more experience, uh, to push out into the world.

Um, and so we're essentially going to expand our community specifically in that area for the people that are focused on mentorship, personal development, coaching, consulting, et cetera. Uh, we wanna highlight them more and, and give them a platform, um, to grow off of in [00:46:00] that kind of way so that you combine these things, right, that you just mentioned. Training can lead to more coaching 'cause you take a knowledge concept and then you need to figure out how to apply it. And then sometimes coaching leads to more training, right? Where you, you're already in the midst, uh, the midst of something. You've been coaching a scenario, you know, a client. Uh, maybe it's a, an individual or a team and you realize that there's a knowledge gap. So that leads to, like you said, either customized individual learning or other training, you know, opportunities for whole teams to get involved with so that they can grow and they, you know, all we are is trying to get people to have a little bit more knowledge about another way of working and then getting them to figure out how to actually get it applied to their work itself.

Brian Casel: Yeah. Well, Rich, this is, uh, really insightful. Thank you for, for sharing everything. Um, we'll of course get all of your stuff linked up in our show notes here. I mean, where, where can people, uh, connect with you most of the time? Day to day.

Rich Visotcky: Yeah, so, um, well, I mean, if you're ever in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, , you might find me just roaming around in town and, uh, uh, [00:47:00] at the local breweries, uh, around here. Uh, but, but you can also, uh, reach me, um, uh, is there, or for, uh, my intake page.

Brian Casel: There you go.

Rich Visotcky: Um, so you can, you can always connect with me there, um, and my, uh, my, my website as well. Um, or find me on I'm one of our professional Scrum trainers and, and staff members there, so always happy to help out. Um, reach out anytime.

Brian Casel: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, Rich.

Rich Visotcky: Thank you Brian.

Great to be here.


Adopting a Wellknown Framework as a Coach & Trainer with Scrum Expert, Rich Visotcky

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