How to turn a good squad into a great one? 8 POCLAC do’s and dont’s

These past few months, we’ve introduced so many new words in our company that it can make our heads spin. Some of them sound hilarious when you hear them for the first time. One of the real funny ones is the “POCLAC.” What the hell? What to make of that and how to take it seriously?

Well, It is actually serious business. No kidding. In an agile organization, a POCLAC is a special coalition between the product owner (PO), the Chapter Lead (CL) and the Agile Coach (AC). Duh! It all makes sense now, doesn’t it? In the POCLAC, the PO, CL and AC join forces, knowledge and insights for one objective: help the squad to perform even better. It’s meant to be a regular meeting – at least once per sprint. The product owner is there to represent the purpose of the squad, the chapter lead to bring knowledge and as resource responsible and the agile coach to drive autonomy and focus on agile methodology and processes within the squad. If done well, this is a killer combination. Together, these three roles should be able to help the squad into a higher level of performance. Something like the Royal Air Force Red Arrows teams 🙂

raf-red-arrows-1280x800Looks and sounds great on paper! Now the reality check. Honestly, it took me a while to really grasp what this meeting is all about. And it took us a few trials – and errors – to get a first POCLAC where we actually felt that were helping the squad. So don’t get desperate if at the start it’s hard! Keep trying, adjusting and communicating and at some point the “aha” moment will come!

How to get the “POCLAC magic” to work? 8 do’s and don’ts

  1. Be on the look constantly for input for the POCLAC. The retrospective will bring great insights into the team dynamics. The product roadmap will indicate the required skills for the future, etc.
  2. A POCLAC is not a one night stand! It has to happen at least once every sprint. Even a high performing squad can always do better. So don’t skip it because you think you do not need it! Don’t be that arrogant 🙂
  3. A POCLAC is not a backlog meeting, neither a status update. So stay away from discussing the backlog or the next major milestone on the roadmap and focus on the squad. By the way, this is the most common misuse I’ve seen so far of the POCALC meeting!
  4. Don’t allow other stakeholders to join the POCLAC. There are not meant to be there, even when they tell you the contrary. It’s either the PO, CL and AC in there or no POCLAC at all!
  5. The goal of the POCLAC is not to discuss individuals! Don’t give into the temptation to go over the individuals in the squad as a rule of thumb. The goal of the POCLAC is to enhance squad performance. So discussing an individual contribution is only allowed when it is directly linked to squad performance. Outcome of such a discussion can vary from giving a big compliment to somebody who has positively influenced squads performance or having a chat with somebody in the squad who is struggling and make a plan to help that individual grow.
  6. Don’t make it a secret, mysterious get together! If you can’t repeat the stuff that is discussed in the POCLAC outside the room, it shouldn’t be discussed at all! If you start making it a secretive meeting, your position as PO will be hard to maintain in the squad, you will lose credibility as an AC and you will have a hard time in your one-on-ones as CL!
  7. Focus on the positive rather than the negative! Ok, this is a very easy thing to say. We humans tend to focus on everything that can be improved. And yes, sometimes there are issues that need to be handled. But I believe the focus should be on the aspects of the squads dynamics and capacities that are really great, and try to build on that!
  8. Stick to your role! The CL, PO and AC all have very specific knowledge and responsibilities. They share a desire to improve squad performance but the way they can individually contribute to that goal differs! A CL shouldn’t interfere with squad priorities and a PO is not HR responsible one for the individuals in the squad. Join forces but be disciplined not to overstep your role.

So! In the end, I find the POCLAC a very useful meeting to discuss my squads highs and lows and ask for help when needed. I really feel that we are all there to join forces to make the squad better.

Cheers, Saloua

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