What is Agile Coaching?

All too often people forget what was learned in a training session or struggle to apply what they have learned to real-life.  Coaching enhances and extends training by helping people to understand what they have learned and how they can leverage it to their advantage in a real-life situation.  Coaches work closely with you and your people, pulling information from across the organisation and supporting you in defining what success looks like.  An Agile Coach will help you set goals and support you in discovering the right way for your organisation to use Agile to your advantage.

Coaching can be effective for short and long term purposes.  Short term coaching is usually focused on specific activities, for example coaching a team’s planning meeting or helping groom

a complex legacy backlog, and is achieved using a combination of facilitation, training, listening, observing and providing feedback.

A typical example of a formal, long term Agile coaching engagement starts with a facilitated planning session with the client and potential coachees.  The aim of this is to agree a set of key aims or goals that depict the desired outcome of coaching. The coach will then become immersed in the team’s activities so that they are available and aware of the challenges the team face.  For example coaches may initially facilitate planning sessions or retrospectives to provide a working example of Agile in action.  Or a coach may provide the team with some additional training in different techniques to get more honest retrospectives or better, meaningful reviews and demo’s.

Agile coaches work informally with individuals too, in a neutral and advisory capacity, to support team members in fulfilling their new roles and to help them become more self-empowered and aware. Agile coaches use inspect and adapt techniques to help you fine-tune your goals on a regular basis, throughout a coaching engagement.

This is also an opportunity to model and try an Agile method, for example when coaching Scrum teams it is ideal to use sprints as a way of planning those regular opportunities to inspect and adapt. Importantly, an Agile coach is an expert at helping to pace new Agile teams – we often refer to this as the heartbeat, or rhythm. Often when people try something new we run towards, or away from, it.  New teams often try to change everything at once and this can result in even more chaos and uncertainty.

Coaches will help your people to prioritise and then embed critical, high-value adjustments to your ways of working, geared towards meeting the goals agreed.  For those teams which resist change, coaches are adept at guiding people to discover their own reasons for change, often finding new goals as a result – this often requires substantial one-on-one coaching with leaders and influential team members.