AgileCoach.jpgAgile coaches and practitioners must be committed to continuous improvement in quality and cost-effectiveness, which means that every development is analyzed for lessons that can be used to improve policies and working practices.

So you've gotten your first exposure to Agile - or maybe your second or third - and, if you were on a successful team, you decided you like the Agile methodology and you want to know more. You have even decided that, beyond liking Agile, you want to empower others to embrace Agile.

You want to be an Agile coach! 

Of course there's the obvious. You need experience practicing Agile.  Actually working as member of an Agile team is the best way to learn Agile. If you're fortunate, you get the chance to backfill for your Scrum Master and eventually become a Scrum Master yourself.  It's not required but it really helpsA Scrum Master is an Agile coach for their team which gives the Scrum Master a unique perspective and opportunity to experience coaching first hand. 

Another route that a lot of Agile coaches use is formalized learning.  Formalized training isn't absolutely required, but it opens doors.  With all other qualifications being the same, experience will always win out, but formalized training can get you to some critical milestones - faster. Good news! There are any number of certification courses and following are just a few for quick reference and resource. 

AgileCoach2016.jpgSo, you really want to be an Agile Coach?

Today’s massive enterprises are in a continual push to be leading-edge digital enterprises. They realize that approaching business development in an Agile manner allows the savvy enterprise to maneuver meeting and exceeding user demands.  

So, perhaps taking on the role of an Agile coach is perfect timing!

First, you need to understand yourself ... and what works well for you. This is important because coaching isn't for everyone. Other than formalized training and experience, there are a few things you need to cultivate to become a good Agile coach.

Read AlsoAgile Methodologies: 4 Core Values for People-Centric Collaboration

Patience: And lots of it!  Not everyone 'gets it' at the same rate and because of this you will get asked the same thing dozens of times in a dozen different guises. One thing to remember is that everyone learns in their own way. There are seven types of learning styles listed below.  

  • Visual (spatial):You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural (auditory-musical): You prefer using sound and music.
  • Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
  • Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands and sense of touch.
  • Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
  • Solitary (intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.

Just remember that you may have to try multiple coaching styles so that your audience is better able to assimilate the materials in the best ways for their own preferred method of learning.

Flexibility: Something new pops up all the time. You think you’ve heard it all and then you get asked ‘The Question’. The one you’ve never heard before. The one you’ve never even considered. The one that makes you scratch your head and go back to basics. Luckily that happens less and less the longer I coach. But be prepared for things you have never experienced before. When you encounter a new scenario you need to be able to take the principles and apply those to new situations. You need to accept the fact that you might have to change your mind; repeatedly. And you may have to work out a unique solution to a difficult issue.

Teaching Skills: Be prepared. Your teams will try to re-translate the basic Agile concepts.  It's a natural tendency of all people to try to go back to what you already know if you hit a bump in the road.  In Agile, because issues tend to reveal themselves earlier rather than later, it's something you will also encounter earlier rather than later.  You have to nip it in the bud and nudge the teams back to Agile best practices.  All of this takes practice, and practice, and practice. You will be challenged on a daily basis.  You will get hit with new scenarios all the time, but if you see this type of activity as a challenge, then coaching may be for you.

Humility: Finally, you will want to make sure you always carry a huge dose of humility with you.  This may seem like an odd inclusion but honestly you really don't know everything. Saying "I don't know but let me find out" might be one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal.  This gives you the opportunity to learn something new as well.  And after all, learning is what makes the journey exciting and FUN.

Remember, no matter what your experience with Agile practices and techniques, the foundation for Agile methodologies is rooted in best practices positioned to enable collaborative environments where diverse teams can continuously learn, improve, grow and produce. Agile development methodologies are a set of approaches to software development that share a common philosophy but are sharply distinguished in the details of their implementations. Agile development methodologies tend to be adapted to different sorts of problems. Sophisticated organizations with a lot of experience may well use more than one agile development approach, but an organization that is getting started should select one approach and master it before attempting other approaches.

Read AlsoWhy Your Enterprise Needs Agile

As an Agile coach, you will be able to create and motivate high-performing teams, imparting Agile methodologies and building communication and collaboration through a consistency of collaborative exchange rooted in a foundation of Agile truth - transparency, trust, respect, and commitment. Coaching Agile is not for the faint of heart, but if it is something you want to pursue - get in the game, and don't look back!