Digital leaders across multiple industries remain committed to more agile business practices into their operations to meet the growing demands of their markets. To successfully implement agile, organizations must consider investing in a talented leader with experience in agile methodologies. In my experience as a scrum master, project manager, and agile coach over the past eight years, I have observed many leaders who have questioned this vital component of successful agile implementation: What is an agile coach, and why should I hire one?
While there may be apprehension about hiring an agile coach, they play a critical role in fostering collaboration with leadership to best serve teams and organizations on their journey to agile transformation. We work together to implement agile practices while advocating the benefits of agile across the enterprise.
In this blog, I will address the common biases organizations sometimes demonstrate about the role of the agile coach by exploring in more depth what it is we do and why we do it.
What exactly is an agile coach?
Many roles exist within the agile framework - in addition to the agile coach, project teams include scrum masters, project managers, developers, and more. An agile coach has in-depth experience in other roles within the agile framework and understands and adheres to the following concepts:
- Understands and lives daily the four values and 12 principles of the Agile Manifesto
- Adheres to the agile coaching manifesto and a code of ethics
- Commits to upholding the code of ethics of the International Coaching Federation
- Employs the four essential roles of an agile coach
The essential roles of an agile coach
There are four essential roles that an agile coach can play at any given time. Let's dive a little deeper into each of these roles to better understand the skills needed to serve in each role, as well as the benefits of each function:
Provides a steady hand, guiding teams to focus on the tasks at hand. They encourage collaborative conversations among stakeholders and can quickly adapt their facilitation approach based on team maturity and experience.
Benefit: The facilitator effectively designs meetings and workshops that engage the entire audience and lead to agreeable outcomes.
Uses multiple delivery mechanisms to deliver content and create a safe, collaborative environment.
Benefit: The trainer creates experiences that inspire teams and drive high performance.
Serves as a constant presence to leaders seeking advice on the direction of their agile transformation. As a mentor, the agile coach supports the mentee by offering information, advice, and practical assistance but maintains a flexible approach, giving the client the freedom to shift direction as required.
Benefit: The mentor supports the mentee by offering advice based on their experiences and practical assistance to guide them in their development and growth.
Leads team members as they experience agile mindset shifts. The coach assists in organizational leadership engagement and can address multiple issues, including conflict resolution and designing coaching alliances.
Benefit: The coach leads the client through the agile process by encouraging them to develop the critical thinking and problem-solving skills necessary to drive successful agile transformation in their organization.
So, do you need an agile coach?
If you're still on the fence about whether or not you need an agile coach for your team, I suggest you ask yourself the following questions for additional insights:
- Does your leadership team understand how to support business agility?
- Does your leadership team adopt a collaborative rather than competitive approach?
- Does your leadership team have strategies to support high-performing teams?
- Does your leadership team implement continuous improvement practices at least every three weeks?
- Does your leadership team understand the current state of technology and the practice of the delivery plan for the next three weeks?
- Does your leadership team meet with the technical team to review their achievements at least every three weeks?
- Is your leadership team transparent about where they are today and what the expectations are for the week ahead?
- Is your leadership team adapting to real-world challenges quickly enough?
If you answered “no” to one or more of these questions, you would benefit from having an agile coach in your corner.
Ready to take the next step?
Prioritizing the implementation of agile practices across your organization and investing in experienced agile experts to guide you along the way is the key to success. CGI is here to help. Learn more about our agile services and connect with an expert by visiting our Business Agility web page..