Where would an agile coach start if they wanted to help my organization become agile?

I am still pondering the problem of scaling “agile” and whether it is a real thing or not.  But this is my summary of where a coach will start …

Essentially, they will ask some questions like:

  • Who am I working with?
  • What do they do?
  • Who do they do it for?

Then they might look at what is working and what is not, in pursuit of keeping your customers happy.

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After that they should have some kind of goal or measurable objective they think could be achieved … but it will just be a hypothesis.

Then they should do some kind of quick audit to see where you are using agile and where you are using different approaches:

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After all, there are probably lots of approaches to getting work done that are either working, failing or sometimes working in your organisation.  So your coach wants to work with the bits that can be utilized and quickly look for areas where a new approach is most sorely needed.  Otherwise he or she is likely to start with the bit that is already working pretty well and then improve it a little with some quick wins that won’t work in the rest of the ecosystem.

Hopefully they will then sit down with you to see if you and they agree on what “agile” actually means.  This sounds easy but is one of the hardest bits

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Hopefully they will also look at how agile would work for a team before trying to push it out to a team of teams or an ecosystems of “kind of related” teams.

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Now, finally, they can talk about multiple options and approaches to moving forward.

Then things get a bit hard as you try things and either fail or succeed.  But the concept of agile is try/learn/improve, so that is what it feels like if you are on track.

Notice that this is a little different to someone appearing on their white horse, announcing that agile (AKA SCRUM; AKA SAFE; AKA insert solution) is the answer to the problems you likely have.

In fact, depending what outcome you want, if they have a solution ready before they know what you want to solve, you should check if they are practitioners of evil agile.

But there are patterns of success (and failure) so maybe that is the next part of the puzzle.

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