The added value of Agile Coaching, and how to demonstrate it.
If you are an Agile Coach yourself, it may seem strange to others if you claim that you are of great added value to the organization. What kind of shameless self-promotion is that? On the other hand, if you are not convinced yourself, what kind of “BS job” do you have? Often I get questions from other coaches; how do you make your added value transparent? How do you measure that?
Net Promoter Score
The simplest way to demonstrate your added value, is to ask the people you coach for a rating, a grade. You can, for example, use the Net Promoter Score (NPS *). On a scale from 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend me? You will have to ask all persons you coach, and do that more than once. Not everyone is a fan of you at every moment, especially if you have just given them critical feedback. The person who rates 9 or 10 is your promoter. A score of 7 or 8 is neutral and a 6 or lower is given by critics.
However, the request to demonstrate your added value usually does not come from the people being coached, but from others within the organization. Those who want to know the benefits versus the costs. Or those who see their own position in danger because as an Agile Coach you learn that teams operate autonomously, and you are taking them to a higher level self-organizing. We can do something with the latter, in terms of demonstrating added value. How does a coach help a team to a high performing level and what does that yield?
Bruce Tuckman has described the stages in which a team develops as forming, storming, norming and performing. As a coach you have to help develop a team and if you do it right, high performing is a good measure of coach value. In the beginning, with forming, the coach is mainly a consultant and mentor by telling the intention and by setting a good example based on knowledge and experience. Later during the storming stage, the coaching skills are mainly addressed by resolving conflicts and organizing feedback sessions. The energy and initiative of the coach is a huge success factor in this case.
In the norming stage, the mentor, consultant and facilitator emerge in the coaching by creating momentum and moving on to the performing phase. It doesn’t stop here! Measuring, continuously improving and maintaining high performance to ensure that the team does not fall back to storming remains a challenge. And often enough the environment or the composition of the team changes and then additional coaching is needed to help grow to the performing level again.
A high performing team level is therefore partly attributable to good coaching, but ultimately to the team members efforts and their coachability.
We can measure the values of team performance by means of a Maturity Assessment, an important coach tool where we assess people and their cooperation and, efficient and effective execution of the process. We can prove more frequent delivery and added value for the customer and the organization itself. We have extracted the most important indicators from Evidence Based Management (EBM*), they focus on the Key Value Areas (KVAs).
(EBM) Evidence Based Management – Key Value Area’s (T2M, CV, A2I en UV).
In the Maturity assessment we use the following important indicators (KPIs) per KVA:
• T2M - the release frequency is a good indicator of the speed of the team,
• CV - customer satisfaction is a good indicator of the quality of the delivered result,
• A2I - the time it takes to create new solutions or to recover from failures indicates team resilience,
• UV - the independence of the team and the extent to which they continuously improve indicates the autonomy of the team and their potential.
Of course you can measure a lot more, which definitely contributes to team performance, but that shows itself more indirectly in the results. Examples include team happiness, mindset, culture & behavior, team goals, velocity, story points, etcetera.
Can we attribute great KPI scores to the coach? Partly yes, and if the coach scores well in terms of NPS, then at least that is the opinion of the persons or teams that have been coached.
Agile Coach vs Scrum Master
In many organizations, Scrum Masters are the Agile Coaches, but not everywhere Scrum is used as the Agile framework. There are many hybrid situations, for example with SAFe (Scaled Agile Framework) or DevOps, where both Scrum Masters and Agile coaches walk around and then the question arises, what is the difference?
Where the Scrum Master is part of the Scrum Team and takes an outside view from there, the Agile Coach has the perspective from the outside in. An Agile Coach is not part of the team and does not take on development tasks. One of the goals of the Agile Coach is to make the team work autonomously and make sure they become high performing. This is done in collaboration with the Scrum Master if there is one, and if successful the coach takes distance.
As an Agile Coach you help to develop high performing teams, but that does not mean that the entire organization performs well. A very good team can frustrate other teams in the organization and that is sub-optimal. This is where agile leadership coaching comes into play, for creating an optimal flow in the organization’s value stream.
We are happy to help you with how to exactly include the measured values in a Maturity assessment. We demonstrate the added value of Agile Coaching and are happy to come back to you, or even better, we hope that you recommend us - with an NPS of 9 or 10.
* https://nl.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Net_promoter_score - Read more about NPS on Wikipedia
* https://www.scrum.org/resources/evidence-based-management-guide - Download the EBM guide from Scrum.org