An agile coach or leader is the professional who is responsible for an organization to progress in its implementation of Agile methods regardless of the point at which it is located. And this can be from stimulating interest in an organization that I’ve never heard of Agile before, to improving the execution of agile techniques and methods in an already mature implementation, going through guiding the complete transformation to Agile of a company Based on traditional methods.
Although many think that the term “Agile coach or leader” is nothing more than a more modern and striking way to refer to a lifelong consultant, under my understanding are two extremely different profiles both in its objective and in the capabilities it offers.
A traditional consultant usually advises and proposes solutions to his client based on his previous experience. On the contrary, an agile coach understands in what situation is his Coachee and prepares a path of evolution from his current situation to a future, closer to its objectives under the principles, values and Agile methods. In Addition, he accompanies him during this tour helping him to identify and mitigate, or eliminate, the barriers that he finds in his path.
In This article, I will take a brief tour of the areas of this framework of competences. And I will bring my vision on how I think a Agile coach should be able to cover them to meet your client’s expectations.
Perhaps This is the most intuitive of the capabilities that are expected in an Agile coach, obviously a Agile coach has to know about Agile and have put into practice. Training and reading are a necessary condition to understand agile concepts, principles and values. In Addition to this, it is critical that the coach has implemented Agile from the trenches and experienced in his own flesh the evolution of learning, doubts, unknowns, fears and all those impediments that passes an Agilist since beginning to Research on Agile until you become an experienced practitioner. Only by practicing on the battlefield will you be able to understand the spirit of Agile and help others to get the most out of this paradigm.
Most of the implementations or transformations to agile methods include (or should include) a significant investment in training not only during the initial period but throughout the improvement course. This is Why it is essential For the coach to have the skills of training and the right coaching tools that will allow him to develop the necessary capacities in the future Agilists of the Organization for which he is working.
“Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in ways that maximize their potential, develop their abilities, improve their performance, and become the person they want to be.”
Mentoring is a powerful development tool in which the mentor’s mission is not to give deterministic answers to the problems of “Minding”, among other things, because when we talk about complex systems these do not exist.
The Mentor-to-Mind relationship is a partnership between two people who share similar experiences. In which the Mentor is a guide who uses their experiences, similar to the current situation by which the “Minde” passes, to gain empathy and understanding about the problems, doubts and difficulties of this. In this way the “Mentee” has additional support and reference to take the reins of the change that he wants to build.
In Agile we value people and their interactions over processes and tools. This is why we explore ways to empower and get the most out of human interactions. For this the Agile coach, among other roles as Scrum Master for example, must have powerful tools and capabilities to facilitate meetings, ceremonies and meetings.
This will make it happen that by working with a group of people, the interactions and collective intelligence expected from an Agile team can be successful. In this way the team will take the maximum advantage of the event provided. This can be from identifying the improvement actions that will have the greatest return on investment after a retrospective, until reaching an agreement on the vision, conditions and scope of a project after a project initiation event (or inception).
Perhaps This is one of the most controversial aspects when it comes to describing an agile coach.
Does this Mean that in order to be Agile coach I must have received specific Coaching training? Are the Agile coaches psychologists or something like that? (Important Note: A psychologist and a Coach looks like a user story to a use case, and as a lamp to a screen)
There Are opinions of all types regarding this aspect. My opinion is that having training as a professional coach is not necessary or sufficient to be Agile coach, but of course the learning of these specific techniques greatly enrich the Agile coach and increases the value that can contribute as such.
Creating a path of progression and evolution of professionals and teams is a difficult task, for which in addition to experience are necessary a high degree of empathy, emotional intelligence and, above all, ability to listen. Skills that, among others, work in a specific way in the training of a professional coach. It Happens with these capacities, as with many others in the human being, that some people have them naturally and others do not. But We cannot ignore that the specific training of most of the skills accelerates and increases the possibilities of their development.
According to my idea of agile organization, this is a sustainable system that is able to build the right things with quality and maintaining a constant dialogue with your client through the frequent delivery of value.
In order to make an organization into a system of these characteristics, it is necessary to provide different capacities at different times within the global transformation strategy. And change the whole step by step through the continuous improvement of each its parts (Continuously improve the whole)
Therefore, at different times, different specialists, or types of coaches, may need to be able to reinforce with specific tools each of these parts:
• Technical Coach: Expert in Building the things right.
The Technical Coach is an expert in guiding the development teams in the construction of products with high level of internal quality.
For This use different strategies: from doing pair programming with people from the development team to help them improve the code they write, to work with IT OPs in the implementation of integration and continuous delivery tools, or to design and Implement your version control strategy with your computers.
• Business Coach: Expert in building the right things and continuous customer delivery and learning (Building the Good Things & Continuously deliver and learn from your customer).
The Business Coach specializes in providing tools to maximize the return on investment in the built product and reduce the time to market.
For this the Business Coach guides product owners and other business actors in the use of specific tools that will improve their ability to prioritize, the management of functional needs and the alignment of the product built with the needs of Business they intend to cover.
• The Organizational Coach: Expert in sustaining the system and continually improving it (Sustain the system + continuously improve the whole).
The Organizational coach is a specialist in organisational structures and their processes.
It Is able to help and guide organizations in optimizing their processes and in their transformation to Agile. For this, it has specific instruments based on the Lean and Agile principles of organizational transformation. And the ability to establish a culture of continuous improvement in organizations.