What is Agile Coaching?
Agile Coaching is a collaboration with people in a thought-provoking and creative journey. It utilizes coaching approaches with an agile mindset and principles to help individuals, teams, and organizations be the best they can be.
What is the “Agile Coaching Growth Wheel”?
The “Agile Coaching Growth Wheel” is a tool to help Agile Coaches and ScrumMasters reflect and grow themselves on their Agile journey. This tool is best used with another coach to help support them.
The wheel has eight segments or spokes which represent main competency areas. Within each area, there are one or more competencies on which an individual can reflect. This guidance identifies five levels for each of those competencies.
5 Levels of Assessment
- Beginner: This person knows the theory but has no real practical experience of the application.
- Practitioner: Has applied in at least one situation but may still require support in the application.
- Journeyperson: A journeyperson can apply competencies in most situations.
- Craftsperson: With an unconscious competence the craftsperson has mastered the application and knows when to bend and when to break the rules.
- Guide/Innovator: In this final level, one has the capability to change to meet the current situation and innovate to create new techniques.
The tread around the outside represents the supporting competencies, these are knowledge areas that in turn support the skills of the other 8 competency areas.
Why Create This Wheel?
Misconceptions exist with clients and Agile Coaches with regards to what Agile Coaching is. This confusion has resulted in unqualified people presenting themselves as Agile Coaches with little experience and low competence. Resulting confusion makes the process for clients choosing the right Agile Coach for them difficult.
How does one become a great Agile Coach? There is no clear pathway because Agile Coaching is not yet a fully-fledged profession. This Agile Coaching growth wheel lays down some core competencies that lead an Agile Coach through a reflective process to go from good to great.
Based on the collaboration of Agile Coaches from around the world, the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel outlines some core competencies that enable Agile coaches to go from good to great through a reflective process. We believe that defining the Agile Coaching journey will allow educators and other coaches to better support the growth of new Agile Coaches by creating learning and development programs. It will also build confidence in the industry around the future profession of Agile Coaching. Defining the competencies and growth for an Agile Coach’s development makes it easier for an organization to select the right coach for them with confidence.
How to Use the Wheel and Guidance
This part of the guidance is written from the perspective of a coach helping an Agile Coach to reflect. There are many ways to use the wheel in a coaching conversation, and the following is an example of one possibility:
Step 1: Identify an area of improvement Talk through each of the competency areas (the 8 spokes and 4 tread areas), use the guidance below to make sure the coachee has a high-level understanding of each area. You can’t improve everything at once, so get the coachee to select an initial area of focus to work on.
Step 2: Reflect on a competency area For each area, go through the guidance and get the coachee to assess their own competence against the 5 levels of assessment. Some people will sell themselves short, while others will overestimate their competence. Your job as a coach is to hold them accountable to a true representation of themselves by asking for examples and being curious.
Step 3: Brainstorm options and generate actions Use the insight generated in the reflection to brainstorm options for growth, and then formulate a plan of action.
The rest of the guidance is just that: guidance. The detail against each level for a specific competence is just meant as reflection, not as a checklist. There may be guidance at the practitioner level that you cannot fulfill 100%, perhaps they are not important to you or your context, but as you explore the journeyperson guidance you might find a better fit for where your coachee is at. Ultimately the coachee (Agile Coach) decides.
Agile and Lean Practitioner
Agile Coaching is coaching in an Agile context. To work as an Agile Coach most clients would expect knowledge and experience here. Most Agile Coaches come from Agile or Lean backgrounds but reflecting on Agile helps us stay rooted. If you are coming to Agile Coaching from a non-Agile background, then investment in personal growth is likely to start with this assessment. There is also a lot of synergy between an Agile/Lean Mindset and a Coaching Mindset, such as an underlying belief in people, the idea that change is possible, and people can be the best that they can be.
The Agile/Lean Mindset includes the values and principles of Agile, which guide our thinking and actions when approaching new situations. A deep understanding of Agile allows an Agile Coach to apply frameworks and practices in the way they were intended. An Agile Mindset requires belief in yourself and in others, people are the foundation of Agile working. We trust, support, and nurture people to unleash their full human potential. This balances the “being” Agile with “doing” Agile.
Lean Manufacturing and Lean Product Development provide us with some foundational concepts that underpin the Agile frameworks and methods:
- Focusing on the value that gives the most delight to our customers.
- Optimizing our organizations for Flow with small batch sizes with the shortest possible lead time.
- Maximizing quality and minimizing waste.
At its heart, Lean is about total respect for the people involved and a continuous improvement mindset.
For additional details and guidance about using the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel in your organization, download our Coaching Wheel PDF. (The additional information starts on page 5.)
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