Agile Coaching

Any experienced Agile and Scrum coach, with enough theory and practice under his belt should have in-depth understanding of  practices and principles of various agile frameworks and real-world experience of implementing it at organizations.   A good coach must have a proven track record of guiding organizations through challenges of agile transformations, having seen himself adoption successes and adoption failures, with the latter being a great “lessons learned” that a coach is willing to share.  A coach with diverse experience that spans across multiple organizational systems should be able to effectively serve multiple teams, products, project cycles, environments or technologies.

Some coaches can operate equally comfortably at any organizational level: top of organization (with senior leadership), team-level/mid-level management and with individuals.  But some coaches have a stronger preference for their focus: e.g. technical excellence, team-level, enterprise-level, individual-level.

There are different coaching styles that can be used:

  • Directive Coaching – mostly used, when:
    • Coachee exhibits low ability and inadequate subject matter expertise for contextual learning, while a coach possess strong expertise in a subject matter
    • Coachee has low level of motivation and morale
  • Non-Directive Coaching  – mostly used, when:
    • Coachee exhibits high aptitude, strong skill set and subject matter expertise
    • Coachee has high motivation, aptitude and morale

Some of the most important hallmarks of Agile coaching profession are conceptualized here: “Agile Coaching: Lessons from the Trenches“.

Before engaging with a coach (Enterprise, Team or Individual level, technical), every company/client is encouraged to learn what to expect from a healthy from a coaching engagement. Recommended topics are:

  • Differences and similarities between Training and Coaching
  • Coaching styles: as above, plus in-depth explanations
  • Coaching Specialties vs. Coaching Competencies
  • Coaching maturity and ability to make influence (e.g. Enterprise vs. Team)
  • Rules of coaching engagement and disengagement
  • Internal (full time) vs. External (consulting) coaching
  • Solo coaching vs. taking part of a coaching team
  • Classic “bad smells”, commonly seen with bad coaching

Note:  As Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), while coaching organizations, teams and people,  I am empowered to exercise my own discretion to help individuals in achieving Scrum certifications.  I extend this offer only to those selected individuals that genuinely support and practice values of Agile and Scrum.

What is required for effective coaching?  What should organizations do to get most value from their coaches?  Please, review some recommended “pre-coaching” steps.

Coaches are frequently asked by customers, especially, at early stages of an engagement: “What are your objectives, as an organizational agile coach? What are you planning to accomplish?“.

While personal coaching objectives may vary from one coach to another, and depend on specific needs of a client-organization, there are some basic common purposes that are shared by all coaches, in terms of what they strive to achieve, while engaging with clients. Here is the list of objectives that are shared by many agile organizational coaches: Top 10 Objectives of Agile Coach.

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