In the fast-paced world of Agile coaching, the role of Agile Coaches has metamorphosed. Gone are the days when their primary focus was enforcing compliance with Agile frameworks. Today, Agile Coaches are the driving force behind authentic organizational change and the nurturing of a culture rooted in agility. In this article, we’ll delve into the evolving responsibilities of Agile Coaches, offering concrete examples and tools to navigate the shift from Agile compliance to genuine transformation.
The Changing Face of Agile Coaching
In our previous discussions, we outlined the challenges stemming from a rigid adherence to Agile compliance. Now, we’ll introduce the ever-evolving role of Agile Coaches as agents of change.
From Framework Enforcer to Change Catalyst
Practical Example: Consider a team grappling with technical complexities that hindered their progress. They acknowledged that while Agile promotes emergent architecture and design, their situation required a change. They introduced an Architecture Review & Design meeting between the Retrospective and Sprint Planning to address intricate product backlog items more effectively, albeit following a somewhat Waterfall-like approach.
Tool: The Agile Coaching Canvas — a valuable tool that helps Agile Coaches reflect on their coaching approach, set goals for improvement, and navigate their role effectively. It focuses on the bigger picture, instead of frameworks.
Cultivating a Growth Mindset & Empowering Self-Organization
Practical Example: Fostering a growth mindset involves enabling teams and individuals to tackle issues themselves. Agile Coaches should refrain from solving problems and, instead, empower teams to discover solutions through vulnerability and adaptability. Employ coaching techniques with powerful questions to facilitate self-discovery.
- Celebrate past successes.
- Use icebreakers to create a safe environment.
- Establish rules that encourage open discussions about improvement.
- Implement the Celebration Grid from Management 3.0 to visualize learning.
- Foster short feedback cycles to track personal and team growth.
Facilitating Continuous Learning
Practical Example: Imagine a team that invested a week outside their usual sprint cycle to address challenges and enhance their competencies. The Scrum Master was pleased with the progress but concerned that the learning might stagnate. They introduced two questions at the end of the Daily Scrum to keep learning continuous: “What did you learn today?” and “Did you do something unplanned that improved the product or our way of working?”
Tool: Explore practices like Communities of Practice, Lunch & Learns, and Mob Programming for continuous learning and skill development.
Leading by Example: The Coach as a Role Model
Practical Example: Agile Coaches, like anyone else, can struggle with time management. By honing time management skills, Agile Coaches set an example. They demonstrate the desired behavior by learning to say no, managing expectations, and visualizing their work using tools like Kanban.
Building Collaborative Cross-Functional Teams
Practical Example: In a fintech organization, the introduction of team topologies led to the creation of a Platform team focused on ensuring the platform’s availability, safety, and security. While the majority of teams favored Scrum, the Platform team found Kanban more suitable to reduce cycle time.
Focus on Outcomes, instead of Output
Practical Example: A Product Manager grappled with a team’s inability to develop features as envisioned. The team required overly detailed requirements. By reducing the level of detail, focusing on outcomes and fostering collaboration, the team delivered closer to expectations with less effort, enhancing their understanding of the bigger picture.
Conclusion: Embracing the Agile Coach’s New Frontier
To sum it up, Agile Coaches are no longer enforcers of compliance but catalysts for transformative change. We encourage Agile Coaches to embrace their evolving roles, sharing their own stories and experiences in this ever-evolving field. Together, we can drive true Agile transformation and thrive in the dynamic world of Agile coaching.