Training and coaching at ThoughtWorks University

photo: TWU students, by Ilias Bartolini

In the last five months my life went through a short but amazing detour in India.

I had the beautiful opportunity to join for two consecutive terms our internal training program as trainer and coach: ThoughtWorks University.
Take a group of 60 to 90 fresh graduates coming from five continents; put them together in and energetic and fun environment for 6 weeks; include indian food, lectures, practical training, games and delivering a real project supported by the guidance of 15 to 25 experienced ThoughtWorkers.

Back in London I’m still recovering from this amazing cultural, learning and fun experience.
Few days after coming back I’ve been asked by a friend to talk about how was my experience as a TWU trainer.
So thinking about it I briefly came with a list of at least 5 reasons why YOU should join as a trainer.

  1. It can be easy to teach how to do OO and TDD, write a test or a story and you just need to sharpen you basic skills to do it…
    But is much more difficult to teach TW culture and TW values. The only way to really transmit those is to just follow them!
    Is the most important thing: live following the values and try be a model with your personal integrity.
    If sometime you think you can do a small simple thing that can inspire others following good values, just do it!
    And this often makes you not only a better TW-er but a better Person
  2. Many trainers come to TWU with the goal of improving their presentation, facilitation and communication skills.
    You’ll find daily opportunities of doing it and receive valuable feedback!
  3. Coaching! Learning how to coach and serve the people around me has been the greatest learning experience as a trainer!
    Do not spoon-feed, let people fail, give feedback and directions, challenge their assumptions, encourage and inspire for the next step!
    I’ve been amazed how during these 6 weeks I’ve seen some trainees build their confidence, learn from their mistakes and really start blossoming!
    And TWU is a good starting point if you want to learn how be a good coach because you’re surrounded by people with lot of enthusiasm that makes it much easier!
  4. TWU itself is built around an iterative and continuously improving process. Each group of trainers and TWU batch is a different experience with different people: is important that also the trainers use their strengths, adapt the content and do what they know better… and learn to improvise sometimes.
    Every TWU terms faces many different challenges but at the end, thanks to the mix of the great people, something magic always happens!
  5. Have FUN :)
    Sometimes being a trainer also means be ready for intense work during nights and weekends for preparing a session while other people are partying.
    Or sometimes you’re afraid before giving strong difficult feedback to people who became your friends in these 6 weeks.
    But the best part still remains having fun together. The best compliment I received as a trainer was: “it’s hard to tell who’s a coach and who’s a coachee”
    To mention what someone already said: You can join TWU with as many specific plans as you like, but make sure that none of them gets in the way of getting together with the amazing people around you! So I’m glad that during those 5 months I haven’t only helped many people around me to grow but also made new friends!

Last 5 months have been very intense so I hope to share more about the learning experiences in further posts in the next weeks.
I will also talk more about this experience and training program at the next Italian Agile Day in Milan in a short presentation titled Training and Coaching Agile minds

PS. I haven’t learned a lot of Hindi, but this phrase is something I will for sure remember: यह निर्भर करता है :)