You Have To Be Agile To Coach Agile


approach works with little tailoring. For larger projects where roles have been defined, I would work with the team to define a lean value stream(s) and clarify responsibilities.

The agreed coaching role, involvement, speed (see Figure 2) has great impact on what the coach does. Things like daily meetings and retrospectives. provide avenues to engage the team members, but you should not be limited to these. You should seek every opportunity to work with the members. The social aspects are important. In some cultures, after work at the pub do wonders for coaching. It provides the atmosphere for members to let their hair down. At the same time, you do not want to be a nag. So, you have to be sensitive.


5. Continually Sharpening Yourself

The challenges facing the teams are wide and varied. In some areas, a coach would be fairly knowledgeable having worked with other teams and seeing how they have been solved elsewhere. But there will be cases when the challenges go further. As a coach, you need to help the team think out-of-the box to seek solutions. Usually, there would be someone in the team that has greater expertise. You need to draw from their experiences and their knowledge, or you draw from fellow coaches. Seek every resource to help the team.

It is important not to shun away from areas which one is not particularly strong. Seek to build up your knowledge in these areas. I am reminded of biblical verse of being all things to all men in the hope that I can save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). This spurs me on quite a lot. I have to be honest where I am weak and put in the effort to grow in those areas. Thus, every coaching assignment is also a learning opportunity for me. This has increased my breadth and depth significantly and for each new coaching engagement, I know in my heart that I can do better. I am sure you can too!

I believe your desire to learn and grow will be an inspirations to the people you coach.


About the Authors

Pan-Wei Ng, Ph.D. is a firm believer in a lean and agile development. He strives to improve quality and reduce waste. Dr Ng helps companies in Asia adopt and scale lean and iterative development and other practices. He believes in practicality and leadership by example. In fact, he has recently lost 20 kg in 3 months as a result of applying a lean lifestyle. As the Asia Pacific CTO of Ivar Jacobson International, he contributes to the innovation of software engineering practices. He co-authored of Aspect Oriented Software Development with Use Cases with Dr Ivar Jacobson and believes that aspects and effective separation of concerns are important enablers to rapid lead and agile development. 

Mark Magee has been tinkering with various software development methods for over 20 years in a variety of organizations in Japan and the US. Having been born and raised as a foreigner living in Japan, he has a natural tendency to take an objective view of everything, including himself, standing on the outside looking in. This "out-of-the-box" mentality combined with an insatiable appetite for solving puzzles has lead to many unconventional suggestions that continue to surprise and dismay his colleagues at Sony. Current interests include a combination of risk management, lean and agile methods, agile inspection, organizational improvement, effective training delivery, and doughnuts.



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