Agile Coaching and Consulting: What It Is and How It Works

Agile coaching and consulting helps organizations in any stage of agile adoption.   For companies that are new to Agile – coaching and consulting are key to help them adopt an agile way of working. For companies that have a seasoned practice, coaching and consulting helps take your team to the next level of productivity.   

The process of agile adoption particularly addresses three elements. 

  • Training or Empowering in-house agile coaches
  • Establishing or advancing agile tools, methods, roles, and processes
  • Conveying the agile mindset

For an organization to take an agile approach, it requires new thinking patterns, perspectives, and attitudes. An agile coach can help organizations to use the agile mindset. The coach also provides organizations with the methods, tools, and processes they need for agile work.

An agile coach is also responsible for the implementation of this new way of working. But the culture of a company cannot change overnight. The organization must live and develop its culture. Therefore, the agile coach's goal is to train employees for their roles as in-house agile coaches. These in-house agile coaches make sure organizations implement the agile approach in a sustained way long term.

For those companies that have adopted the mindset, have processes in place, it is always a great practice to bring in an Agile Consulting Coach.  Having an outside impartial view into how your teams are functioning, helping them capitalize on their strengths and identifying opportunities for growth is a valuable investment your company will realize the ROI from immediately.

Benefits of Agile Coaching and Consulting

  1. Immediate Application 

A good agile training program provides a jump-start to any organization looking to implement agile methods in its workflow. The coach gives the required guidance on all agile working best practices. 

  1. Better Collaboration

An agile coach brings integrated methods for teams working in different geographies and from distinct cultures. Having a collective set of definitions that best capture agile terminologies and practices helps contribute to an effective communication channel for the teams.  

  1. Improved Communication

It is important to communicate the need for agile in the organization. An agile coach can help build a vision and showcase agile’s value. A coach shows how agile develops and bolsters customer engagement. A strong agile coach will enable your team to learn effective ways to improve communication, which in turn improves both your internal and external satisfaction and in the end your bottom line. A coach will strengthen the need for communication as the foundation of agile within the organization.

  1. Backlog Grooming

A coach will help guide the team and product owner through the backlog grooming process. They will assist with the prioritization, value assessment, and facilitating discussions to ensure the overall business objectives are met.

  1. Continuous Improvement

Continuous Improvement, Continuous Development and Agile go hand in hand; all contributing to the growth of your organization. Each Scrum team (guided by the enterprise goals) establishes and agrees upon a set of metrics to help assess the amount of agile adoption. They also look at continuously refining and improving. Failure is encouraged. This is how teams grow into top performing agile units.

How Agile Coaching Works

There are six stages of implementing agile coaching within an organization.

Stage 1: Assessment

The objective of the first phase is to analyze and understand the state of the organization. Some of the considerations include how teams work, what agile methods exist, and what tools the organization has already adopted. It is also important to understand the business context in terms of customers, products, and stakeholders, the level of adoption, and the level of support.

Stage 2: Empathize

This phase is about coming to terms with the culture of the organization. The coaches put themselves in the shoes of management and the employees. 

Agile methods bring about change when implemented successfully in an organization. This naturally leads to fear and resistance. By understanding the issues that could delay or block agile, the coach can introduce a sustainable change process. 

Stage 3: Design

In this stage, the coach formulates an employee-centric approach for the introduction of agile. The coach removes any obstacles identified in phase two and works with leadership to assist in the adoption of agile throughout the enterprise. 

The agile coach conducts intensive training with the future in-house agile coaches. He or she uses innovative training concepts, such as business simulation games. These games are enjoyable and promote both team building and skills development. 

Stage 4: Pilot

During this phase, the recently trained agile coaches apply the skills they have learned in the selected pilot project. The agile coach provides support and conducts coaching sessions for all stakeholders throughout the pilot phase. The goal is to achieve fast successes and ingrain the changes in the company's culture.

Stage 5: Tests

After conducting a full agile sprint iteration during the pilot, the agile team, under the leadership of the coach conducts an assessment to determine their progress, and overall adoption success. Based on their honest analysis, changes to the approach are implemented to test through the next sprint.

Management and employees have different views and needs.  The feedback loop is one of the most critical tools utilized by successful agile coaches and enterprises.  When all stakeholders provide input, communication improves and the team is able to work cohesively towards common goals.   

Stage 6: Implement, Scale, and Monitor

During this phase, a successful coach continues to accompany the ambassadors, both on-site and in remote sessions. The goal here is to anchor the change and solidify the improved way of doing things in your culture.

After the initial stages it is quite common to have a quarterly review with an external coach that will enable your team to bring new issues, as well as learn new insights from the industry on how to continue to grow and thrive in an agile culture.

Contact Gina and the team to discuss how to get started on your path to improvement today!