Wednesday, October 17, 2018

What Does an Agile Coach Do All Day? Part 1

Understanding active listening, emotional intelligence, facilitation and a host of other coaching skills is great, but what does an Agile Coach actually do on a day to day basis? How do they create value? One can imagine a coach wandering around, making observations, dropping pearls of wisdom here and there, and being approached for advice. Or perhaps they are like a lucky charm; just great to have around, imparting greater levels of Agility through proximity.

Part of the difficulty of being an Agile Coach is that you are only successful when others are successful. You work is "indirect." Compounding this is the fact that if everybody were already experienced Agilists, you wouldn’t need to explain the value of Agile or how to become Agile. Agile is very different from traditional ways of working. As a result, it can easily end up in people’s “blindspot.” That is, when you explain parts of Agile, they can sound like exactly the wrong thing to do. For example, phrases like “consider working on fewer projects at the same time” and “produce new end-to-end functionality from scratch every two weeks” make many people shake their heads, even in supposedly Agile environments.

As a result, there are many different views of what “Agile” really is. When you show up at a client or a new team, it is likely that the true value that you can provide is not fully understood and that people will have certain pre-conceived notions of who you are, what you believe in, and how you will provide value to the organization, teams, and individuals. To counteract these difficulties, one thing you can do is create and publicize a catalog of service offerings. This gives people a tangible list of things that you can do for them that they may not have even thought of asking for.

Here is my catalog. It is in word format and I invite you to use any and all of the text that will help you create your own service offering catalog.

This idea came from Gillian Lee as she was looking to provide new ways to make Agile Coaching even more approachable and self-serve for her teams.

In Part 2 of this series I discuss ways to discover the potential needs of your teams.

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