Facilitating the Spread of Knowledge and Innovation in Professional Software Development

Write for InfoQ


Choose your language

InfoQ Homepage News Agile Coaching Gains Traction

Agile Coaching Gains Traction

This item in japanese


Agile Coaching has emerged as an essential role found in and around agile teams. New teams need basics, competent teams sometimes get lost, and great teams want to get better. Coaching has arrived.

Lyssa Adkins

For examples of evidence, consider the following:

  1. Agile 2009 had a Coaching 'Stage' which is a conference track.
  2. Classes exist now on coaching techniques and coaching agile teams.
  3. Earlier, Rachel Davies published her book Agile Coaching (Pragmatic Press).
  4. The Scrum Alliance has a relatively new, higher-level credential called Certified Scrum Coach.

And finally, Addison-Wesley is now shipping the book Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins.

InfoQ caught up with author Lyssa Adkins and asked a few question about agile coaching.

Here are the answers:

Your book Coaching Agile Teams is now complete, and in print. How does that make you feel?

I am thrilled beyond belief. I never set out to be an author, it just "happened" to me. It seemed like everyone I knew was saying things to me like, "That's good! You gotta write that down" and "You should write a book." So I did. And now I am so pleased to see the results of my agile coaching experience in book form and being used by so many coaches to "up their game" and help their agile teams excel.

What is the one thing you want the Agile community to really, really know? Be specific and detailed.

I am all about helping the next generation of excellent agile coaches to emerge. Why? I believe many organizations have used agile "in the small" so far, as an alternate project management methodology. In its fullest expression, agile is far more powerful than that. Sure, it works for pumping out the same work faster and yet there's a sense that there's more to get. And there is.

Excellent agile coaches know how to help their teams get more and move from the mechanical application of agile into a world where teams deepen their experience of agile practices and principles and then go further, to take up their deliberate and joyful pursuit of high performance. All of this made possible because they have an excellent agile coach as their guide. This is what I want the agile community to really, really know.

Why are you so passionate about agile coaching?

I have seen agile used to great effect and I have seen it used poorly and even as a weapon. When it's used poorly or for ill, I see a wastefulness that I cannot abide. When people tell me they hate agile because it makes them work overtime and squelches their ability to innovate, I cringe and cry, "It doesn't have to be that way! In fact, agile is set up to give you a work/life mix that works for you and is supposed to unleash your innovative mind." I believe one of the key differences in a team with a negative experience like this and one with agile in full effectiveness and liveliness is the skill and ability of the agile coach. And, it just so happens that agile coaching is where my personal agile journey occurs, so the need and the personal story merge. That's why I am laser focused on helping coaches coach agile teams.

The book Lyssa wrote, Coaching Agile Teams, ships to bookstores any day now. The book includes chapters on "Coach as Teacher" and "Coach as Facilitator". These are particularly interesting chapters, as they are about techniques for accelerating team learning. The chapter "Navigating Conflict" is especially useful for coaches new to facilitating communication between people when substantial differences exist between them. Differences are the raw ingredients of group learning, and this chapter provides solid guidance on navigating these differences such that the team is the winner.

Coaching is part teacher, part mentor, part facilitator, part mediator and part problem solver. The role of agile coach is an interesting and demanding one. Being coached is now established as a valuable practice, and agile coaching is now a profession.

Stay tuned for the upcoming interview of Coaching Agile Teams author Lyssa Adkins, for more detail on the essential role of coaching on agile teams.

Rate this Article