The following models were presented at Agile Tour London 2017, to help explain the Why, Who, and How of agile coaching.
The House of Agile Coaching
Let’s suppose the goal of agile coaching is
to help individuals, teams, multi-teams, and organisations, to continuously improve
(improvement can be along the lines of customer and business value, happiness, and/or any other lines of improvement)
A Coaching Approach
Next we build the foundation of the house. The foundation of the House of Agile Coaching is A Coaching Approach. An agile coach who adopts a coaching approach:
first and foremost elicits the goals, skills, resources, and creativity of the client (individual, team, multi-team, or organisation).
This means that the coach starts by listening and questioning to help tease out the client’s underlying goals, challenges, potential, skills, resources, and creativity.
Agile Values and Principles
The next layer of the foundation is made up of the Agile Values and Principles. Although taken from the Manifesto for Agile Software Development, these values and principles can be applied to all areas of work, including those outside of software development.
The Pentagon of Agile Coaching Skills
The next layer of the foundation is made up of the Agile Coaching Skills. Here we depart from the House, and enter the first Pentagon, the Pentagon of Agile Coaching Skills. An Agile Coach may call on these coaching skills in varying degrees depending on the needs of the situation. For example, a coach may start out by eliciting the client’s goals using the professional coaching skills of active listening and questioning. She may then offer some guidance from her experience, in the form of mentoring, in service of the client’s development. While facilitating a meeting or workshop, she may discover areas where the client is lacking in knowledge or skills, and may therefore offer teaching in the form of on-the-fly teaching or more indepth trainings. Lastly, there are occasions where the Agile Coach takes a more leading role, providing more direct guidance or implementation which we may call consulting.
The lines of the Pentagon of Agile Coaching Skills denote movement of the Agile Coach between the skills. Sometimes the movement is a tango between skills, or a zig-zagging between skills, and sometimes we hang out in one of the corners for a while before moving to the next. An expert Agile Coach would typically be an expert in all of the Agile Coaching Skills.
The Pentagon of Agile Practice Domains.
The final layer of the foundation is made up of the Agile Practices. Here again we depart from the House, and enter the second pentagon, the Pentagon of Agile Practice Domains:
- Team processes include team alignment processes and product/service flow systems like Scrum, Kanban, and Scrumban.
- Multi-team processes include multi-team alignment processes and product/service flow systems like Large Scale Scrum (LeSS) and Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), amongst many others.
- Product Management includes product-, service-, and business design and development methods like Lean Startup and Design Thinking.
- Change Transformation includes agile ways to introduce and support change like Plan-Do-Check-Act or Lean Change Management (leanchange.org).
- Technical practices include domain-specific practices to enhance agility. In software development these might be practices like test-driven development, refactoring and continuous integration. In marketing these might be practices like empathy mapping, customer journey mapping and lean experimentation.
An expert Agile Coach would typically be proficient in at least 3 of the Agile Practice Domains.