You Have To Be Agile To Coach Agile

  • out a defined practice or method.
  • Process. A full-blown process is established to meet business needs.

Coach Role . What role does the team want the coach to play?

  • Instructor. Coach acts as instructor to train in generic success scenario.
  • Advisor. Coach acts as advisor to assess situation and provide warnings.
  • Mentor. Coach acts as mentor to look ahead, show the way, and push forward.
  • Leader. Coach acts as leader to take over responsibility of the project.

Coaching Involvement . What level of involvement or contribution does the team want from the coach. Some teams want to do it mostly by themselves. Some teams want the coach to sit beside them daily.

  • Review. Consider lessons learned only at the final review of project.
  • Reactive. Check progress of improvement regularly, and adjust plans as needed.
  • Proactive. Do retrospective and set new improvement goals at each iteration.
  • Continuous. Assess work status daily, decide quickly, and take immediate action.

Team’s Receptiveness . How willing is the team to accept the recommendations from the coach?

  • Scrutiny. Every piece of advice is met with scrutiny.
  • Adopters. Small group of innovative adopters lead improvements.
  • Majority. A majority within the organization tries it out.
  • All-aboard. Everyone accepts it, and tailors to their needs.

Evaluation of Effect . How do the stakeholders and sponsors want the results to be evaluated.

  • Feeling. Results judged by members' feel for change in comfort level.
  • Indicator. A single key performance indicator is gauged.
  • Metrics. Project quality, cost and delivery (QCD) metrics are employed for full evaluation.
  • Objectives. Effectiveness intimately tied to success of business objectives.

I do not have any presumption of which option is the best. Rather, Figure 2 is used to gather consensus on which set of options is the best fit for the context you are dealing with. It is about what works for the team. As you get to know the team, as the team grows, and as the team get to know your strengths and weaknesses as a coach, the appropriate options changes. So, do review expectations frequently.


4. Continually Engaging the Team

A coach’s job is never done as you lead the team members to really practice what they need to do and what you strive for is that they will do it right even without being told. Even when and especially when there is time pressure, they will still do it right. This is stage 5 of the approach as depicted on the Kanban in Figure 1 and when it becomes part habit.

Once a coaching engagement starts, I strive to become an active member of the team quickly and contribute effectively and seek out the issues.

For example, when coaching teams to apply test driven development (TDD), I often have to help the teams improve their system testability, often going through some of their code and highlighting places in their code where additional controllability and observe-ability are needed. This might require me sitting beside developers to show them how to do it. This also involves helping members determine which areas they should concentrate their TDD efforts to reap the most and immediate rewards. At other times when the members’ capabilities are better, just providing some advice is sufficient.

Another example is when a team wants to adopt iterative development, we need to determine how the work is being divided, by roles, by components, by releases and how many members are on the team. If the number of members is small and co-located, then a simple SCRUM

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