There’s been enough success with agile to justify forming a coaching team—congrats! Now what?
A few big questions come up:
How will we know if agile coaching is successful or not?
How will coaching be structured in the organization?
Which teams or groups will agile coaches work with?
That first question is a doozy! Agile coaches can be squeamish about metrics to evaluate how effective their efforts are because ultimately results are outside of their control. Yet we all like to know that our work adds value and makes a difference; when we feel we are not seeing positive results despite our best efforts, we will look to make a change in that coaching relationship. Metrics could support conversations with the people we coach about how things are going and if coaching should continue with them or not.
Coaching could be structured around working with groups for a particular timeframe or until a team reaches a particular set of capabilities. There’s often an underlying assumption that every team will need agile coaching, and that leads to agile coaches having more teams to coach than they can handle at once. Organizations typically need a diverse coaching group that includes technical skills, product/business skills, and organizational change/team dynamics skills—this is important in enabling longer-term benefits of agile. Hopefully these coaches are working together (rather than in silos by specialty or disparate areas of the organization) and are aligned with a shared goal.
Which brings us to the final big question from above. There are many options to consider in determine which groups or teams to start coaching:
Management/leadership so they “go first”
Teams that ask for coaching because they are open and motivated
Teams whose managers request coaching for them because they must be important and have management backing
Teams working on the highest priority products/work for the organization so that they are more likely to be successful and create visible wins
Teams who will be working on new products so they get started on a good path and we can make use of the fresh start from a timing perspective
Teams that are bottlenecks for programs/other teams because these will have a multiplier effect for the organization
Other options probably exist, and there’s no clear “use this approach in all cases” answer. In fact, some agile coaching teams offer different products or services based on those “customer” personas or needs.
Newly formed agile coaching teams need to take some time to think through these questions and create their own charter. It would be easy to just start coaching and become so busy that we forget to reflect on our efforts. Let’s get clarity about our plan to help the organization because doing so will enable us to replan later as needed. An agile coaching team that can pivot based on organizational needs is quite amazing.