A human mind is trained to take shortest path. When it comes to developing a product or selling one, we are taught that this is how ‘SDLC or sales industry’ works! In a nutshell, we have been memorizing processes, facts and figures. Our mind is programmed to follow the past patterns which we are comfortable with. This mental configuration has been building up for years and years, and this is where the responsibility of a Coach comes to light.The role of a coach is to enable the coachee to achieve his/her’s best potential. From software development professionals to Marketing experts, or any team, we have developed certain models of how to do (or not do) our work. The agile coach helps individuals or teams to unlearn the models that they have formed in the past, relearn and rethink the way we develop things.
Let us skip the word ‘agile’ at the moment and focus on ‘coach’ here. What is the role of a coach? As a Coach, one can play the role of a trainer, facilitator, mentor, active listener, managing progress, accountability as well as inspiring individuals & teams (Coaching Federation, No Date). The goal of coaching is to help clients fully understand themselves, explore and utilise their potentials and outperform themselves and deliver extraordinary results.
Now if we add on the term ‘agile’, we can define an agile coach as someone who helps the individual or team to succeed by helping them to deliver outcomes focusing on Agile principles over using Agile Practices.
Let us explore the definition of Agile Coaching.
An Agile Coach is a hands-on practitioner with expertise in one’s field, makes significant contribution to improve the agility of product development. He/she inspires and helps you to decrypt what you already learnt, breaks the monotony and allows you to open up your mind, learn new things and excel as a team and or an individual!
Overlaying coaching on the agile practice will help to improve the team’s overall performance and accelerate its success. Agile coaching helps individuals or teams to adopt and sustain agile principles more efficiently and effectively, and build self-driven teams that are functioning, thinking, evolving and influencing. Studies conducted by ‘Scrum Alliance’ and various organisations suggest that scrum teams benefited more with coaching support (Linden, 2010).
An Agile Coach plays the role of a consultant as well as a trainer. He/she is an advisor, who helps the team members to put their learnings from trainings into practice, to incorporate the learnings into daily work, implement and anchor them to deliver changes and make a difference.
The coach helps the team to acquire new knowledge and perspectives, incorporate them into daily work, challenge the existing processes and approaches of doing things and implement positive changes at their workplace. An organization invests in Agile Coaching to promote and facilitate changes. The coach narrates stories and provides explanations to the teams, groups or individuals and explains how the AGILE world really works (Denning, 2016).
The Agile Coach has to prevent team members slipping back to their old ways of doing things . When the opportunity matures, the coach must withdraw from the team and let the team members continue with the new behaviour to avoid learned dependency.
Coaches in an organisation can be in-house or recruited externally. The in-house coaches have prior knowledge about the people and different personalities in the office, which could work in their favour. On the other side, the external coaches are valued for their extensive knowledge and experience, and can often bring a fresh perspective from the outside world.
Stale approaches may not produce result after a period of time, this is where the external coaches comes to its importance by delivering new ideas and solutions in a limited period of time.