Coaching, Geese, Term Papers- Oh My!

A mainstream service and buzzword that has surfaced in the agile world is the concept of Agile Coaching. You might think to yourself- why would I need a coach, specifically for agile? Or, coaches are for sports, not‘business’. Contrary to those thoughts, I think about Professional Football. NFL teams don’t have a stated number of coaches that they can have on staff- and the number does vary by team. Last year, the average NFL team had an amazing 18 coaches on staff. (Even I, a heavy-hearted Packers Fan, was shocked by this.) These coaches have the background, experience, and training to look at very specific areas of execution, while allowing the entire team to function, as a whole.

Coaching in and of itself, is defined: to give instruction or advice. Within that definition, a few things are inferred. First, the ability to Instruct- one must have the ability to act in a teaching capacity, relating concepts and ideas in a manner that is digestible to the target audience (individual, team, or teams). Secondly, inferred is the ability to advise- or consult with your audience best practices, approaches, and methods, based on knowledge and or experience, from specific to team-wide areas of execution.

When is a good time for a team to engage a coach? Any time! Seriously, a coach can be a great asset to the team(s) or organization as your spin up agile methods, to guide you along the way, or for a 2 year veteran team that is looking to make further strides. Studies show that most agile teams implement a series of agile methods or practices, reap the rewards over time for that, and without any further ‘spiking of the punch’, fall into a performance gap.

Another time that is a good indicator that a coach could be helpful- low morale. I personally think that teams undervalue the concept of ‘cheerleading’, or celebrating your successes. (It’s why geese honk! The lead goose in the vee is doing the hardest work, while the rest of the geese tuck in behind and honk, as if to say, “go! go! go!” And of course, they trade off who is in the lead position, as a whole team effort.) A coach can help you identify your ‘done wells’, and your ‘can do betters’ with a fresh set of eyes, exemplifying the ‘term paper effect’ (you re-read your paper 20 times and think it’s perfect- and then some chump looks at it and finds 4 spelling errors in 15 seconds). This influence can help you further develop your agile culture, and hurdle the next performance gap.

Keep honking, my friends.

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