Agile Coaching for Your Agile Company


good sources of information on interviewing, but Agile principles would simply suggest that they “collaborate” and “demonstrate results”. A few suggestions:

  • Have the coach candidate facilitate a discussion within a team in your company. The team should be passionate about the topic. This might be a design or strategy discussion. There should be opposing views represented. Observe how the candidate serves the team in helping them reach their own conclusion. Of course, a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) helps as well.
  • Pair the coach candidate with someone else in your organization to develop training material or code.
  • Have the coach candidate teach a topic to a wide variety of staff in your company. Lunch-n-learns are good opportunities.
  • Observe how the coach reacts to the unexpected. Try Powerpoint Karoke, in which the speaker is given a set of slides that they have never seen before. The slides are put on automatic advance every 20 seconds or so. The object of the game is to give the most coherent presentation possible.

7. Summary

Coaching and training are indispensable to Agile transformations. For most companies of significant size, there is great value in the creation and maintenance of a stable, dependable internal source of Agile knowledge, often called the “internal Agile coach.” It is possible to observe some symptoms across the enterprise that indicate that an internal Agile coach might be a good addition to Agile activities.

The duties of the internal Agile coach differ from those of the so-called “Agile champion” and are many and varied. They include aspects of training and coaching and a number of other items. Being an Agile coach requires a wide range of human qualities, skills and experience, and selecting one for the company should be done carefully.

8 . Further Reading

“Agile Coaching”, Rachel Davies and Liz Sedley, 2009.

“Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition”, Lyssa Adkins, Addison-Wesley, 2010.

“Collaboration Explained: Facilitation Skills for Software Project Leaders”, Jean Tabaka, Addison-Wesley, 2006.

“Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New Ideas”, Mary Lynn Manns, Ph.d., and Linda Rising, Ph.d., Addison-Wesley, 2004.

“The Value of an Agile Coach”, Roger Brown,

About the Authors
Mark Kilby is an Agile Coach with Rally Software in Orlando, Florida. Since 1990, Mark has helped teams develop unique software and system solutions for government, industry, and academia as a developer, architect, project manager, instructor, methodologist and scrummaster. His experience spans full life cycle development of new and legacy applications for the military, NASA, publishing, telecommunications, and many other industries. His passion is coaching coaches to guide great teams via collaboration, continuous evolution, and application of agile principles. Mark is a Certified ScrumMaster and received a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Florida and a Masters in Computer Science from University of Central Florida.

Alan Atlas has been professionally involved in high tech for nearly thirty years. Starting out with a BA in Psychology from Brown University and a BSEE from the University of Massachusetts, he joined Bell Labs as a hardware engineer and promptly went off to Georgia Institute of Technology to get an MSEE. During his time at Bell Labs, he discovered software and taught himself the C programming language.

Moving to the world of software development, Alan then spent some years developing kernel functions in a realtime UNIX kernel for data acquisition workstations. Promoted to OS Group Manager, Alan began 25 years of technical management during which he rose to the Sr. VP level before voluntarily downgrading back to Dev Manager where things are a lot more fun. Highlights of those

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