Am I an Agile Coach?

A new year, a time for retrospection and ambition. There is no better time to ask those deep questions, what do I stand for, what do I want to achieve? I am sure many others are doing the same.

 

So, what do I stand for, what am I? Most people I think have a relatively easy time defining their job, Doctor, accountant, Traffic warden; but what do I do, what am I?

I laughed at the time when I asked my boss what he wanted me to do, and he said “Make things better”, but on reflection that is probably the best description of my role there is, implies a vague and varied scope but a clear intention. I get involved in team dynamics, quiet personal one to one chats, programme governance, Agile ceremony facilitation, process mentoring, training and business analysis support, a bit of this, a bit of that, things that I feel need to be done, things that others request of me; all of it with a view to transforming the current state to something better.

The broadest industry term for what I am doing would be an Agile Coach. There are some that would say that means someone that leads Agile transformation programmes, or someone that gives Agile theory instruction, or maybe only a valid title if you are actually coaching – as defined by the coaching institute.

I like Tobias Mayer and Jem D’Jeyal’s podcast where they discuss the nature of the term Agile Coach and state they like the term Agile Consultant – but they can use that term with less confusion than me because they operate as independents rather than permanent employees.

I used to get a little hung up on what an Agile coach is, and be able to argue that because what someone did, or didn’t do, that they weren’t really a coach. This is especially true in the rather philosophical argument between the Scrum Master and Agile Coach role. Now I am increasingly of the opinion that the definition of the term Agile Coach is really in the hands of the employers. If they say that person is an Agile Coach, then by definition they are, regardless of what we in the industry think. This is in part due to the power of the recruitment industry and the market place remuneration benchmarks that come with it.

The role of the Agile Coach is becoming standardized in terms of activities, industry experience, skills and reward. We may not like it but the wider society appears to have consolidated around a position that an Agile Coach is a progression from Scrum Master. Of course, many in our industry influence what those employers think, but the most powerful in the industry trend to be those that sell Agile rather than implement it – ultimately selling themselves.

 

So am I an Agile Coach – I guess that is up to you to decide.

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