Life in the POCLAC

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At Agile2018, I had a conversation with Nienke Alma about her experiences as a member of a POCLAC leadership team at ING.

POCLAC stands for Product Owner, Chapter Lead, and Agile Coach (pronounced Pok-lack). In 2015, ING decided to base it new organizational structure on small teams, or squads, containing no more than nine people.  Squads are organized into tribes of 150 people or less.

The Product Owner role is held by one of the squad’s members, on top of her regular responsibilities as e.g. a Customer Journey Expert (someone who combines marketing, product management and/or business expertise) or a Development Engineer.

The Chapter Lead contributes to the delivery of value as a member of a squad and also ensures that chapter members (those within a tribe with a shared expertise) have appropriate competencies and skills.

And the Agile Coach? Well, in Nienke’s words, “Agile Coaches help to create a high-performing tribe by challenging, coaching, and inspiring in terms of content, culture, and process on all levels.”

What fascinates me about Nienke’s experience is that she started right away by suggesting improvements to the way her POCLAC leadership team worked. Sometimes they faltered, but they kept learning and trying to improve. They consciously worked to make their squads more autonomous. And they worked through reorganization and growth and lots of change.

After two years, Nienke left her POCLAC to join another group in ING as an Agile Coach. Nienke reflects, “Looking back at the journey described in this experience report, I realize now how important it is to share experiences between POCLACs and learn from mistakes. The challenges that I faced were not unique, nor were the solutions, although back then I sometimes thought they were. Finding solutions becomes more difficult if you don’t know what has been tried before by others.”

And that’s why I value experience reports so much. You can hear even more reflections by Nienke as you listen to our conversation.

About the Author

Rebecca is President of Wirfs-Brock Associates and former Director of the Agile Experience Report Initiative. She helps organizations and individuals hone their design and architecture skills, improve system quality and manage technical debt. In addition to coaching and mentoring she conducts workshops on agile architecture, design heuristics, and pragmatic software design. She invented the set of design practices known as Responsibility-Driven Design (RDD) and by accident started the x-DD meme.

Rebecca is also a shepherd for the XP 2023 Experience Report Track. She is on the Board of the Hillside Group and writes patterns and essays about sustainable architecture, agile QA, and design heuristics. If you want to share experiences or wisdom in pattern form, Rebecca can help you turn your itch for writing into the written word.
Read her blog at and find articles and patterns and essays on her resources page,

This is an Agile Alliance community blog post. Opinions represented are personal and belong solely to the author. They do not represent opinion or policy of Agile Alliance.

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