teams, new employees, managers, and executives will all need training in the early days of a transformation. The need for training is constant because even after the entire organization has become mature at Agile practices, new people joining the organization will need training in order to fit in with the existing Agile culture.
- Launching new teams
Coaching is the process of advising, correcting, suggesting, and otherwise helping teams to initiate or improve their Agile implementation. While frameworks like Scrum are simple, there is significant room for error and sub-optimization when a team tries to implement it for the first time. A coach is expected to use their experience to guide teams in their first attempts in interpreting Agile principles and practices.
- Team Assessments and Tuneups
This is a delicate process where the coach typically observes a team and then offers appropriate remedial measures which might include training, coaching on specific aspects of Agile, or specific advice on altering the team context. Many misinterpret these assessments as a way to check for compliance to a “standard Agile process”. A better way to think about it is to check for the best implementation of Agile principles to achieve the best possible business results. When there is a standard framework such as Scrum or XP in place then realizing the best possible implementation of those might be the simplest goal, but it is not the only one.
A warning: If the goal of assessments is seen as “compliance”, then the coach will be seen as another form of “process police” and will lose credibility as a trusted partner for the team.
- Continuous Education
Often training is lavished on development teams early in an Agile adoption, but others such as management, business development, sales, marketing, operations, the Project Management Office (PMO), and other organizations do not receive the same level of training. Educating these organizations about Agile is a first step to helping the company remain an effective business entity. This continuous education effort by the coach is typically less intensive and detailed than actual Agile team training, and in many cases it is the correct level of information to give other organizations, particularly early on.
- Support and Governance
Just as the PMO has a centralized role in process governance, there is an ongoing need to understand the current state of Agile process implementations in the company. This can be as simple as somebody who visits teams or it can be as complex as designing and collecting rich sets of metrics to improve Agile implementations company-wide.
Agile frameworks do not specify all aspects of an Agile implementation, particularly with large organizations and projects. It can be both non-trivial and non-obvious to apply Agile principles to a 500+ person program in a way that will work in practice and provide similar benefits as in smaller teams. An Agile coach is presumed to stay current on the state of industry knowledge regarding complex and large applications of Agile methods, and should be able to help teams and programs in successfully applying the knowledge.
- Community Creation and Leadership
An important service that the internal Agile coach can perform for their organization is the formation and nurturing of a community of practitioners. This community will serve as a place where practitioners can air questions and collaborate to solve local issues. Such communities should be formed early in the organization’s Agile transition. As a simple special-interest group, the community can be a fun place to grow and learn, especially if the Agile coach periodically injects items of interest from the greater Agile community into it for