Coaching is the practice of supporting individuals, teams, and an organization through the process of achieving a professional result. It differs from consulting, mentoring, and training. It involves more questioning and facilitating than doing particular tasks for the person or team or group. It is more focused on process, discovery, transition, leadership, and mindset than it is on particular projects. The goal is to help the clients to develop new mindsets to do Lean-Agile, to acquire a new set of tools, and to make adjustments to processes and structures.
The coach helps teams gain confidence and effectiveness so that they can sustain the gains.
As mentioned in Form Team: Support the Team, coaching accelerates learning about agile and lean ways of working. Coaching also helps teams to understand how to work effectively together. They may work with several teams at a time.
The agile coach brings a variety of skills and knowledge to this effort including:
- A deep understanding of agility and Disciplined Agile
- Dealing with conflict and human behavior
- Facilitation and mentoring techniques
- Problem-solving approaches
- Continuous improvement
- Frameworks for culture change and transformation
- Keep stakeholders informed
- Proper attitudes
- Coaching playbooks
- Asking powerful questions
- Conducting assessments
Good coaching is like "success assurance" so that our early critical agile pilots are successful.
The Disciplined Agile Coach certification is designed to equip people to succeed as agile coaches.
A Note About Roles
In some organizations, the team lead can play the role, or part of the role, of an agile coach.
As stated in People first: Roles in DAD,
- On a DAD team, any given person will be in one or more roles, an individual can change their role(s) over time, and any given role will have zero or more people performing it at any given time.
- Roles are not positions, nor are they meant to be. For example, there may be many stakeholders of your project and none of them is likely to have a position of “stakeholder.”
- Agile de-emphasizes specialized roles and considers all team members equal – everyone pitches in to deliver a working solution regardless of their job description.
For information, see People first: Roles in DAD
Agile coaches are focused on teams and on the transition to agile/lean.
- Understanding how to align teams with organizational strategies and goals to enable agile transformation.
- Facilitate culture change and transformation within and across teams.
- Coach disparate teams and groups of teams, often with different priorities and preferred WoWs, to identify the most appropriate way to work and learn together given the situation they currently face.
The agile coach is an important part of the transition plan. The coach is the interface between leadership, the transition team, and the teams going through the transition. In many ways, the agile coach is the face of the transition at the ground level: attending to processes, surfacing impediments, communicating the plan, developing and realizing the roadmap.
Coaches can have specializations. For example, a good practice in adopting DA Data Management is to find an agile coach with deep experience in data management.
“Hire agile coaches with deep experience in both Agile and Data management. Someone with agile coaching experience alone will struggle to gain the trust of experienced data management people, and a data management coach without deep agile experience will struggle to help people to overcome their deep-rooted traditional belief system.”
Here is a quick overview of some of the agile coach’s responsibilities.
- Supporting change at the individual, team, and groups of teams
- Working with the governance/PMO team
- Identifying challenges and competencies in the team
- Determining improvement opportunities
- Working with the improvement backlog
- Creating a coaching playbook
- Implementing guided continuous improvement (GCI)
- Visualizing and removing impediments
- Helping the team identify root cause of issues
- Supporting diversity in the workplace
- Guiding teams through the change process
- Overcoming barriers to decision making
- Helping the organization develop needed capacity