In our The Agile Coaching Series – Part 1, we discussed about the following:

The Ski Teacher Aveline

  • The Ski Teacher, Aveline is good at skiing for the level she is able to teach.
  • Aveline is very good at skiing, and she is good at explaining concepts, answering questions, demonstrating when needed to teach the contents to students.
  • When you wanted to learn how to ski, you found her and took an introduction to ski program with her.

The Friend Eve

  • The friend, Eve, has years of experience in skiing. And she is better at skiing than you.
  • She explained, demoed, and corrected some moves for you, and shared with you about some tips to avoid major problems while you ski.
  • You wanted to improve your skiing skills, and wanted to get some help from her for faster progress. She skied with you and she provided mentoring to you as per your request.

The Equipment Expert Eveline

  • The senior employee, Eveline at the ski equipment shop is an expert in ski equipments. Eveline is an an expert in ski equipments and knows skiing equipments inside and out.
  • She explained to you the theories, logics and principles of all equipments, and shared with your how to select.
  • Eveline also based on your criteria and situation recommended a few options for you to select from.
  • You reached out to her because you wanted to get a set of equipment.

The Professional Coach Evelyne

  • The professional coach, Evelyne, doesn’t know how to ski at all and she doesn’t know anything about ski equipment. She may not even like to ski, and she may even think skiing is one of the most dangerous sports.
  • Evelyne is strong with professional coaching competencies, and serves your agenda.
  • Whether you want to ski or not, whether you want to buy ski equipment or not, whether you want to continue skiing, and whether you will sell ski equipment or not.
  • You reach out to Evelyne as you needed professional coach’s support for career advancement and life related development.

Now let’s take a look our ski story and Agile Coaching. I am sure you noticed that I used different variations of my name, Evelyn. If we change the context from skiing to supporting organisations, the Teacher Aveline, the Friend Eve, the Equipment Expert Eveline and the Professional Coach Evelyne, would be the Agile Coach Evelyn.

What doe this mean? This at least means two main insights.

Why is Agile Coaching challenging?

In the example of skiing, you may have noticed that it is always you who approached the Teacher Aveline, the Friend Eve, the Equipment Expert Eveline, and the Professional Coach Evelyne. Now let’s look at the context of agile coaching.

Working with Agile and Agile framework, means changes from how things were working previously. Depending on how the organization introduces Agile and what’s the strategy of Agile adoption, Agile Coaches too often have to be the one who will be approaching the individuals, teams, and organizations that require some further improvement.

If we use the product side as an example, the Product Manager who may have been working with a legacy product for very long, with no understanding about design thinking and product discovery. The Product Manager, either working as a stakeholder to the product owner, or working as the product owner, will not be asking for help from the Agile Coach to teach them about design thinking and product discovery. Instead, Agile Coach has to approach the Product Manager, to help the Product Manager understand the needs, the value and trigger the desire of learning and using product discovery concept. Then Agile Coach can teach, mentor and advise as needed to enable the product manager to do their job.

Agile Coaching Competencies

Agile Coaching Skills

  • In the context of Agile Coaching, this means Agile Coach needs to be able to teach (the Teacher Aveline), to mentor (the Friend Eve), to consult (the Equipment Expert Eveline), and to coach (the Professional Coach Evelyne).
  • This also means that Aveline, Eve, Eveline and Evelyne are the very same person in the context of agile coaching.
  • There is also a not-mentioned skill in the skiing story, facilitating. An Agile Coach also needs to be able to facilitate as needed to best support individuals, teams and organizations.

Lean and Agile Expertises

  • Experts in Agile and Agile frameworks, such as Scrum and Kanban;
  • Up to date with the latest practices;
  • Utilise lean value, practice and practices to support teams, products and services, and organisations;

Domain Knowledge

  • Domain knowledge is a much more advanced topic than our skiing example. In the context of skiing, it is more about ability to ski well and expertises about ski equipment.
  • In the context of Agile Coaching, if we use product owner as an example, in order to best support the Product Owner and their product, Agile Coach may teach them about how to work with product roadmap, product prioritization, product discovery, and more. After this, Product Owner may most likely have challenges strategising product roadmap, prioritising product backlog, making large product backlog items into smaller items but still valuable, performing product discovery, and innovating product business model. This is the moment, a good Agile Coach would mentor the product owner. In order to mentor somebody in a particular context, the mentor should have walked the path and can do the work if needed.

And before we conclude this series – what makes Agile Coaching even more challenging is that Agile Coaches have to decide what parts of the organisation to focus on, and then what skills to use in order to best support the organisation.

I hope now you see why I use the lady and gentleman on the balancing board as the theme photo of this series.

See you in the next agile coaching series.

In case you missed earlier series, here is an inventory so far:

The Agile Coaching Series – Introduction

The Agile Coaching Series – 1: Skiing and Agile Coaching

The Agile Coaching Series – 2: The Balancing Board Analogy

The Agile Coaching Series – 3: Facilitation

The Agile Coaching Series – 4: Facilitation – We, You and One

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