Saturday, June 23, 2012

How to choose a right Agile coach ?

I am sure you agree that no one is born as an Agile coach. People chose coaching profession based on their strengths. Knowing that, there is a great demand for Agile coaches nowadays, it is always beneficial to understand their journey. Finding an Agile coach is not so difficult, however finding a right one is.

After observing coaches since several years, I found a pattern among their journey. The following pattern could be used as a framework to identify a phase an Agile coach belongs to. If you believe they belong to first two phases, then it is recommended to have a Pragmatic coach to support them.


1. Novice phase: As the name implies, new to Agile coaching and diligently follows every step learnt from the past. Very eager to learn new facilitation techniques, and attends all the new training programs, conferences without fail. Very enthusiastic and very vocal about Agile methods in the company.

2. Passionate phase: I understand that, being passionate about something is always good. It carries a lot of good energy, but on the flipside, it could make one blind to the different/better options available.
This phase for an Agile coach is like being a teenager in life, a bit reckless.

During this phase, coach continues to carry a big Agile hammer around all the time. As the saying goes “When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail”. Whether the customer needs a particular practice or a methodology, the coach will go ahead and push the customer to practice them.
As and when the coach comes across something new, he/she wants to put that into practice immediately on the projects. The coach in this phase strongly believes that Agile/lean practices are silver bullets, which in reality are not.

3. Pragmatic phase: Coach has spent several years working on small/medium and large scale projects. Has gained enough experience working with different clients solving challenging problems. Good thing is, It is easier to identify a pragmatic coach. When you meet one requesting for help, he/she won’t tell you to go, and apply Scrum or Kanban or any popular practices. They would encourage interviewing the key stakeholders,they will also try to understand the issue from an enterprise level before suggesting any solution. These coaches will try to understand the root cause, and provide solutions accordingly.

As I said before, finding the right Agile coach matters. Coaches could influence the bottom line of the company, and having more pragmatic coaches who are not carried away with the hype are always beneficial.


Flowmotion said...

Your hammer analogy made us laugh! We think we're almost certainly at the 'pragmatic' stage - we do still feel passionate, but no more hammers and nails :)

Venkatesh Krishnamurthy said...

Thanks Flowmotion for going through the article, and posting your thoughts.