What Knowledge and Experience do you need to be an Agile Coach?

To be effective, agile coaches require deep, applied expertise and experience across multiple organisations, multiple projects and industries. They must have experience as practitioners as well as coaching Scrum Masters, Products Owners and Program leadership to help support these people in their roles’ context regarding what agile frameworks to use, how to get started, and how to work through problems that arise from conflicts in adoption, culture, and practice. Ultimately, agile coaches help people realise the best benefits from their investment in agile ways of working.

When we set up our ZXM Agile Academy™  Framework we articluated an Agile Coaching Pathway from Advanced Scrum Master to Enterprise Agile Coach. The framework detailed the progression pathways and also the standards for key Agile coaching roles. An agile coaching capability takes time to develop and ZXM utilises its Agile Coaching Development Pathway™ to help build knowledge and capability for internal coaches. In fact, ZXM uses this framework to develop its own agile coaches and consultants.

The ZXM Agile Academy™ outlines:

  • The agile coach roles and responsibilities.
  • What to expect from the different levels of agile coaching roles, impacts and outcomes.
  • The areas of focus for agile coaches, primary activities and product delivery responsibilities.

Agile Coach Roles and Responsibilities

As past of building internal capability, the ZXM Agile Academy helps aspiring coaches to understand what is expected from agile coaches at different levels within the organisation. As the organsiation scales, Agile Coaches on the Agile Coaching Development Pathway need to understand the focus of their role as it scales to more responsibilities beyond being an Agile Coach of a single team to be an Enterprise Coach across multiple Programs.  The below diagram illustartes how we viewed the focus, expected outcomes, expected impacts, product delivery responsibilities and primary actvities that Agile Coaches perform at the different competency levels.

We use the ZXM 8 Elements of Agile Coaching™ model which is a contingency-based coaching model after Feidler’s work on contingency-based leadership. This enables the model to apply to any domain whether the coach has a technical or product development background, or whether the coach is coaching in an IT, design, or business environment. Importantly, the model acknowledges that multiple coaching patterns and approaches are needed to support a program or team’s capability improvement dependant on their context. 

All of the mentees in the ZXM Agile Academy are encouraged to develop their skills in all the elements of Agile coaching and work on their self-development as an important aspect of servant leadership. They proactively seek to expand their knowledge and capabilities and  practice intentionally as part of our continuous improvement framework. This allows the Academy to develop and grow capability to be enduring and championed by an internally maintain coaching capability. The Academy also provides a formal development pathway.

What does an Agile Coach Formal Development Pathway Look Like?

Change doesn’t happen overnight; it requires commitment and a shift in perspective. Agile coaches help team (and ultimately the wider organisation) understand Agility and embrace the Agile Transformation using a standardised , consistent approach to achieve Enterprise Agility. What also doesn’t happen overnight is becoming an Enterprise Agile Coach. This pathway requires demonstrated years of experience as a hands-on organisational Agile change agent working across multiple teams, Programs and organisational boundaries using professional Agile coaching frameworks and practices.

Our ZXM Agile Academy suggests the required experience, professional development focus and Industry certifications we recommend for those on the Agile Coach development pathway. 

Just knowing the basics of Agile, or Scrum, or how to set up a Kanban board is not enough to get you through the complexities involved in successfully performing the role and being an Agile leader. There are many aspects of the role “Agile Coach” and formal Agiling Coaching development to build knowledge and experience is required over time.

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