What is really an Agile coach? What is this role that a lot of compagnies want more and more?
I will take advantage of my experience to explain to you what is this role of agile coach; this role is misunderstood though it’s a vital role in the companies of tomorrow.
Agile coach roles
Indeed the Agile coach is often called to lead a transformation of the company in Agile. This task is often very difficult, hence the need to be accompanied.
We talk about Agile coach but his roles are not limited to coaching; there are 8 distinct roles that will help to the acculturation and agile transformation. Here are the main roles of an Agile coach who will accompany you:
- trainer: he will train the teams in agile methods and teach them this new culture
- team coach, individual coach, organization coach: he will do coaching in groups or individually. We talk about team coaching, individual coaching or organization coaching.
- facilitator: he will do his best to facilitate the work of the teams by proposing many improvements. He will also lead workshops to maximize their productivity.
- consultant: sometimes, the agile coach is called for more specific missions such as audits. It is rather a role of consultant.
- mentor: the coach must become a mentor for people who want to evolve in the world of agility. For my part, I think that it’s very important because it is really what allowed me to be agile coach today.
- personal coach: not all coaches take this role but some agile coaches become personal coaches. It’s a special role because we enter people’s life to help them in everyday life.
The Agile Coach will help businesses transform themselves at every level; he will analyze the situation and propose an appropriate organization: choice of agile methods or agile related methods to use, choice of roles within the teams.
The agile coach will define requisites for an ideal transformation and to reach the goals. It can take many months or even years.
From there, he will have to accompany the entire company to change with fun workshops, training and excellent communication.
The agile coach, team trainer
As I said briefly, the Agile Coach has a role of trainer essential to bring the company to transform itself. Agility is recent in businesses (although the culture is much older) and is often misunderstood. For example, I have already heard that “we are going to do Agile, drop the docs, we will develop as quickly as possible.”
The Agile coach will teach the teams all the basics of Agile and agile methods or related agile methods. Agile is above all a different culture that requires to be accompanied.
The Agile coach will also train individuals on specific roles such as Product Owner or Scrum Master. It is very important because the Scrum Master is often related to a project manager which is not the case. Obviously, it is not very serious to be wrong in what people think but the trainer is there to restore the necessary bases for the entire company.
He will also take a mentor role to follow individually each person who will need it. He will do that after the different trainings and he will allow people to be followed individually (if they wish). It is a formidable training technique and works very well. The most popular mentoring is for Product Owner role and Scrum Master role.
The Agile coach is not there to impose his ideas because he knows that they will be badly applied in such a situation. He will rather put himself in a low stance and propose solutions to the teams thanks to his knowledge of confirmed agilist or of his possible research. The teams decide or not to apply them.
He will probably be very present during the first ceremonies to support the Scrum Master in his task and eventually give him the full hand when he feels him able to manage them alone.
The Agile coach is a real “coach” because he is totally independent of the projects on which he intervenes. Its objectives as we saw above are totally different from the teams.
And as the name suggests, the Agile coach is a “coach” who will accompany the organization, the company and its employees in its agile transformation. He is often very requested to coach managers, Product Owners and Scrum Masters.
The agile coach will be the facilitator of the organization. He will gradually participate in the removal of obstacles and time wasted.
The facilitation will also be done through workshops (like retro …) well mastered with the aim of making them very productive.
The Agile coach is also a consultant. An Agile transformation always gives rise to a lot of problems; then the coach can wear the cap of the consultant to bring valuable advice. We can see him intervene on audits of agile maturity. In this case, it’s not really a position of “coach”.
What are the methods of the agile coach?
The Agile coach can use many methods to support teams like group training sessions, training on specific positions such as Scrum Master, Product Owner or even Manager 3.0. These trainings will provide the bases and the theory on the agility and the possible methods to use by the teams.
He will also do workshops that are often very fun with the goals to understand things. We can use workshops like Lego for Scrum or Aircraft quite known in the world of agile to help everybody to understand agile culture while having fun in team.
Not everyone is receptive to this kind of workshop, but these workshops can often show people who could take specific roles like scrum master.
I will repeat myself, but the Agile Coach will also accompany the teams individually every day to help them improve. He will also accompany members individually to reinforce them in their position.
The Agile coach will also purpose sharing spaces to offer interesting documents on agility and the world around it. Not everyone will care to read them but the most interested people will likely be the pilot members in the Agile Transformation.
So agile coach is not bullshit!
And no, Agile coaching is not useless on the contrary. It will enable companies to transform themselves properly.
It is a complicated role because sometimes the transformations despite all the efforts of the agile coaches end up failing; and this for many reasons: management not so open to agile, change of direction and objectives … But it’s never for nothing; some people have changed and any new attempt of transformation will have a better chance of success. You know, each step is a start of victory.
But we will always be there to help the companies that want to enter this culture; this culture that allows many companies to succeed. The Agile coach will be the key to success in your Agile transformation.