What is an Agile Coach? (+ 3 Agile Coach approaches)

An Agile Coach helps teams integrate Agile methods into their day-to-day work. Agile working requires changes in behaviour that cannot happen overnight. Agile Coaches spend time with the Scrum team. They help their members recognise how Agile can be used to achieve better results.

This blog article describes the three approaches that an Agile Coach can take. In other words, the three levels at which an Agile Coach can work:

  1. The team level
  2. The team relation level
  3. The overall organisation level

3 levels Scrum Master

Three Scrum Master levels

What is an Agile Coach at the team level?

When organisations first start using Agile methods, the Agile Coach often starts at the team level. The first challenge for these Agile coaches involves inspiring a team and getting them excited about Agile working. These goals are best achieved in training sessions. In most cases, the team is taught Scrum. However, training may also cover Kanban or Extreme Programming.

If the team is enthusiastic and wants to get started with a particular Agile method, an Agile Coach must demonstrate the added value of the method, especially at the beginning. An Agile Coach does this by sharing his or her own experiences. The coach reminds participants why specific approaches are beneficial and also demonstrates Agile working for the team. The coach helps team members acquire new habits. During this phase, the Agile Coach collaborates closely with the team.

As soon as the team has experienced the benefits of smarter forms of collaboration, the Agile Coach takes a step back, allowing team members to run through the process as independently as possible. However, the coach remains available to provide additional training to the team, as part of a stable coaching relationship. From this point onwards, the coach no longer demonstrates how Agile works for the team, but rather works with the team itself.

After a while, the team will be independent and will only have questions from time to time. This is when the Agile coach takes a further step away from the team. When needed, however, the coach is still available to answer questions.

At this point, most of the Agile Coach’s work at the team level is complete. The coach may remain in long-term contact with the team and help them optimise their performance. But this is at the discretion of the team and the organisation.

Involvement Agile Coach

Participation of an Agile Scrum Group coach

What is an Agile Coach at the relation level?

A team does not operate in isolation from the rest of the organisation. Teams often maintain important relationships outside of the organisation as well, such as with clients or users. An Agile Coach therefore strives for optimal organisation of this communication and information exchange. This allows the team to achieve optimal results. At the relation level, it is clear that agile working is more than a package of agreements and roles. Agile is an attitude that must become part of the organisational culture. This means the method affects more than just the team that started the Agile introduction.

Scrum Coach

What is an Agile Coach at the organisation level?

If the Agile Coach is ready at the team and relation levels, the focus can shift to the system level. Every organisation is a system with access to a limited number of resources. For this reason, priorities must be set. That is the only way an organisation can be competitive. It is generally not easy for us to pick out just one or a few from a group of important items. This is where the Agile Coach plays a decisive role.

Different agile measures must be interconnected. This is achieved by a team of Agile coaches. New forms of collaboration have a major impact at the system level. A total organisational transformation must be achieved using both bottom-up and top-down approaches. Employees must acquire new skills. But HR guidelines also change. Traditional management roles come under pressure. And we must bid farewell to time-honoured organisational strategies.

Many organisations find themselves on a kind of journey of self-discovery. Along the way, they find out what kinds of results other forms of collaboration can bring. There is no set template for an organisation to become Agile. Moreover, in our view, that is definitely the way is should be. Every situation is unique, which means the solutions applied must also be unique. Therefore you cherry-pick the approaches you think will work for your specific organisation.

Want to become an Agile Coach? Our Agile Coach training may be right for you!

Or would you prefer to sit down over a cup of coffee first to discuss how Agile Coaching would suit your organisation? Over the years, we’ve helped numerous organisations achieve this transformation with success. You can reach us by phone at +442038088677  or by e-mail at: infinfo@agilescrumgroup.co.uk

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