Extending the coaching agreement – when is an agile coach not an agile coach?

I was talking to some experienced agile people and we started to discuss “agile coaching.”

We agreed that it was a great idea and that everyone should have an agile coach. But then we realised that we did not mean the same thing when we said “coach.”

We did agree on some things, like being able to identify an evil agile coach.  But we were a little misaligned on what a good coach is meant to actually do.

So let’s assume you are a good agile coach, or want to hire one.  Do you actually know what you mean by “Agile coach.”

In this article I will go through some of the things that people might see as an “agile coach” that I see as “not actually an agile coach.”

The next article will cover what I think an agile coach actually does and how to ensure that is aligned to the coaching agreement that you would hopefully have in place.

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Jason’s coaching journey episode one. The big slap

The great thing about agile coaching is that you are helping people to help themselves.  So if you get some traction, then people usually enjoy the journey and start to build momentum.  Then they help themselves (with your support) and you can clearly see the value of your effort.

But it is not always as straight forward as that.

Once upon a time an agile coach faced a setback …

This article, and some others called “Jason’s coaching journey”, are a long read.

The article is a mythical story of  how an agile coach found himself on a journey that turned into a real struggle.

As we learn about Jason’s journey, we will also look at whether, if we were coaching him, we could help him get back on track.

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Would you prefer coaching or coaching?

I ran an agile coaching course recently and, naturally, we spoke a lot about coaching.

We ran through a lot of different techniques and approaches to coaching people in agile teams, but we discovered that both “coaching” and “agile” might mean different things to different people in different teams.

Then someone asked how they would know when to apply different approaches to coaching. The answer we came up with was:

“It depends who you are coaching and what they are hoping to achieve.”

That left people a little confused about how and when to apply different techniques. So we came up with the following diagram that might help (although I have added a couple of bits based on previous conversations with people).

coaching types

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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.

IMG_20150611_125443

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