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Agile 2008: A Coach's Role is to Reveal the System to Itself

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Agile 2008 officially starts today, August 4, 2008.  However, over the weekend this reporter and others from the Agile community attended coaching training  that focused on organization and relationship systems coaching (this class was attended by coaches in IT, health care, mediation, and life-coaching).  This type of coaching focuses not only the individuals but the relationship between individuals as its own entity.  The theory can be applied to both individual and team coaching. 

The term "coach" in the Agile community can mean different things to different people  such as mentor/advisor, team lead, project manager, or even consultant.  In the broader coaching world, they have a distinction - and that is a coach's job is not to "fix" the system but to reveal the system to itself.  The theory is that change can only come from within.  Furthermore, that every system is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole - even if the system is dying, that is ok.

This definition of a coach, and the system that she is coaching maybe uncomfortable with many of us in the field.  However, being at a conference is an opportunity to check new theories quickly with some very experienced practitioners.  (Surprisingly?) This view of a coach's role and how to successfully bring about change in an organization is not alien to many of the more experienced attendees in the conference.  Four different experienced coaches and practitioners validated this view of a coach's role and responsibility to the team or organization they are coaching.

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