So what is agile coaching, and why is there increasing demand to work agile?
I come from a consulting background, upon graduation my first role was as a junior consultant for a firm set up by three top ex-IBM executives who were also very well versed with agile. I learnt under their tutelage and working in the field. Eventually moving to senior consultant role where I was guiding client teams on their agile journey whilst also designing and building tech solutions.
This experience started me on a long journey of coaching and helping teams understand and wield agile. With years of experience, comes the ability to scale your knowledge as well as coaching multiple teams and the skill needed to guide senior leadership through tactical and strategic thought leadership. The objective is to bring about real tangible change in the ways of working, across the organization.
An agile coach is not just someone that coaches and guides multiple teams, but someone that can actively coach and guide all levels of the organization. This challenge, and opportunity, to engage everyone at every level of an organization, is why I enjoy being an agile coach.
A scrum, or a stand up, is a sync session for the team where they come together for a time boxed period (usually 15 minutes) to discuss what’s happening with each other and if there are any blockers. This is a great way to share dependencies and to identify where help is needed. The great thing about scrum/huddle/stand ups, is that you don’t have to be in an agile environment to do this, this session can be done by any team working in any framework.
Businesses working agile have seen a shift in culture, ability to deliver incremental value, increased adaptability, and improved employee satisfaction. Mature organizations have a culture of incredible team empowerment, trust and a shared vision that is clearly visible in everything they do. These teams also have learnt the knack of maximizing the work not done, and have incredible flow of work thanks to team pull.
All the above provide the business with the ability to delivery value, adapt quickly, and learn continuously.
Agile also provides a pathway for people to be seen as people, and to be cross functionally skilled, it gives the customer realistic expectations, the customer’s value is highly regarded, teams are empowered to pull their own work, teams are also encouraged to fail early and often and learn from their failures, it gives leadership the ability to change tack very quickly and yet learn with every decision, they also can receive early indications of issues and delays, they can set purpose driven milestones and most importantly, everyone can expect great quality and fit purpose products.
People, process and culture.
People, because people can resist change. When you introduce a new way of working, a majority of the team might resist that change. Bringing them on that journey to the other side is part of a coach’s responsibility.
Process, because processes are ingrained from years of working in the old ways. Value delivery, Recruitment, progression and promotions, KP’s, and a focus on financials have all been challenges for organizations.
Agile is more than scrum, to be agile, and see great results, the organization as a whole needs to change. From leadership, to the teams and from a financials focus to a customer centricity and value delivery focus. The challenge to move organizations from focussing on P&L to value and customer centricity is huge and many organizations struggle with that also.
Good coaches, working as a team can help and guide organizations at every level progress through their agile journey.