rarely live within these boxes and instead tend to wind their way throughout parts of the organization just as vines grow through fences and hedges in a garden. The Agile coach looks at where these vines might support or choke the growth of the Agile transition and take appropriate steps to initiate new changes.
5.2 . Human Qualities
Beyond the qualities listed above, there are others that you may want to notice as you seek out your internal Agile coach:
- Listening Deeply amp; Reflectively
This is more than just “reflective listening”. As Adkins describes in her book, there can be multiple levels of listening and a good coach learns to not only hear the words, but “hear the context” behind the words.
- Teaching with Passion
A coach may not be passionate about all subjects, but they should show passion for some subjects and that will be evidenced in how they teach others in a classroom setting or mentor one-on-one. This typically shows up as people describing them as “energetic” or “motivating”.
- Continual Student
The state-of-the-art in Agile methodologies is constantly changing as the worldwide community grows and techniques are vetted and reported. An Agile coach needs to be aware of these trends in order to be able to introduce them within the organization.
- Always Serving
The best coaches are always serving their teams, communities and organizations. This does not mean that they are suppressing their own goals. At Rally, one of our core values is “Create Your Own Reality”. As part of that core value, we each try to identify our passions and find ways to align them with organizational goals to effectively serve self and the organization. A good Agile coach models this behavior as well as teaching others to do the same.
To consider other characteristics of an Agile coach, you may want to review patterns in Rising and Mann’s book on Fearless Change or review Roger Brown’s list from his 2009 blog post.
6. Hire or Select from Within?
6.1. Build vs. Buy
There are good reasons for finding your Agile coach within your company. Cultural implications of an Agile transformation, a deep understanding of the political landscape, historical context, business environment, and other company-specific factors can be very powerful pieces of a coach’s strategy. In terms of effective coaching, these can be as important as any of the various coaching skills and qualities that we mention above.
Another important thing for a corporate coach is enthusiasm and a positive outlook. Somebody who believes in the strength and benefits of Agile will have a much higher likelihood of helping implement it correctly. Energetic enthusiasm trumps dispassionate knowledge, in our opinion.
A third significant benefit from finding your coach inside the company is that often they will already be well-known within the company as being positive, driven, and competent. Credibility is key for a coach, so having someone who has already developed credibility, sometimes over years, can make a big difference. This is crucial for dealing with the common belief in nearly all companies that “we’re different here”. Someone who has shown the ability to achieve success with Agile methods within the local corporate context will enjoy much higher credibility than an outsider.
6.2 Some tips for hiring a coach
If you decide to go outside the company, you will be faced with an unusual hiring situation of not having existing expertise within your company to help judge candidates. To overcome this, include an external Agile coach in the interview loops.
Also, don’t just sit your candidate in a room and pepper them with questions. There are many