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What is an Agile Coach

Updated: Feb 15

Good evening agile acquisition ambassadors, and welcome back to the Underground Digital Tiki bar. It is Friday night and that means it is time for a special episode I am calling this blog agile acquisitions and alcohol, because after a week of trying to fix IT in the Federal Government, who couldn’t use a drink?... So Cheers!


Okay, let's get this started, tonight’s topic is going to address a question I get all the time from Agencies looking to adopt “Agile” “Should we hire an Agile Coach?”


Well, in general, I despise generalities, so let’s break this down a bit. To answer the question we need to first discover what agile coaches are and equally important what they are not.


First and foremost, as the name suggests, they are coaches, no different than a soccer coach or a life coach. What is a coach? I remember my high school wrestling coach gathering the team around after we narrowly won another match in our undefeated season and saying; “after that match, I didn’t go in the locker room and smoke a cigarette, I went back there to puke, because you guys make me sick” Now that’s a coach. Don’t get me wrong, he was rough around the edges, but he expected the best from us and he pushed us to work harder than we wanted to or thought we could, he created an environment that required change in us. A coach should make you uncomfortable learning new skills, they should bring life experience and life lessons to the area of interest. They should see the best in you or your team or organization and help you find it. They should be there when things are at their best and worst with a birdseye view to help you reflect on decisions you made to make you better over time.


What is an agile coach not? They are not a product owner, just like a coach is not a quarterback or a captain. They see the whole field they make recommendations, but they are not in control, they are not calling the plays and they are not running the meetings. Agile Coaches are not SETA’s either, they shouldn’t be drafting your documents, reviewing them sure, but not creating them. They should have the relevant experience to provide relevant samples, but the only way your organization will really learn the skills to grow over time is if they are the ones at the keyboards.


And while we are on the topic of experience, I think this is really important. An agile coach should have experience deploying software using agile methodologies in an environment that represents the one you are in or the one you desire to migrate to. Notice I said should. Just like your kid's baseball coach may never have played a day in their life, but they were the only parent on the team willing to give up an hour every Thursday and Saturday, it is possible to be an agile coach without ever having used agile development in practice. It is also possible to be good at it as well. But, in my opinion, there is a level of depth in coaching anything that only comes with having obtained the scrapes and scars going through the process firsthand that is nearly impossible to obtain from a book, a class, or a really great video blog in some guy’s basement.


So my answer to the question...yes agile coaches can be great if you find one that has the right level of experience and use them in the right way, that is to help your organization develop new skills and be the best they can be.

Wow, that was really heartwarming; ok folks that will do it for this episode of Agile Acquisitions; if you are enjoying these videos, please leave a comment, give topics you would like to learn more about, and of course don’t forget to subscribe. And with that, I say cheers and see you next week,

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