What does an Agile (DevOps) coach do, and how do you become a good Agile coach?

Agile coaching has several facets. The Agile coach helps the organization and teams to a higher “performance level”. In other words, work more efficiently and effectively with better results!

In many organizations, the Scrum Masters are the Agile coaches, but not everywhere Scrum is used as an Agile framework. There are many hybrid situations in practice. For example with Agile project management, Less, SAFe or DevOps, where both Scrum Masters and Agile coaches walk around. And then the question arises, what’s the difference? What exactly does the Agile (DevOps) coach do? And how do you become a good Agile coach?

The difference between the Agile Coach and the Scrum Master.

Where the Scrum Master is part of the Scrum Team and looks outside from within the team, the Agile coach has the perspective from the outside in. An Agile coach is not part of the Agile team and does not take up development tasks. One of the goals of the Agile coach is to make the team autonomous and high performing, in collaboration with the Scrum Master, if there is one, and then to distance themselves.

The tasks of the Agile (DevOps) coach.

We can divide the execution of the coaching activities into different types of tasks. The Agile coach is a Trainer, Mentor, Consultant, Facilitator, but especially Coach. The Coach is enthusiastic about the Agile way of working and is happy to communicate that. He / she shows a lot of energy and that is pick up by others. The Agile coach works at different levels in the organization and thus supports not only the Agile teams, but also the roles and functions around them. Important personal characteristics of the coach are:

  • enthuse,
  • listen,
  • asking deep questions,
  • enable trading,
  • reinforce behavior and
  • increase insight.

Ctrl Improve — five coach elements

An Agile Coach understands the 5 different important modes: Training, Coaching, Mentoring, Facilitation & Consulting. He / she knows when, why and how to apply the correct mode. Below is a list of activities for the different modes. These are also shown in the picture above.

  • focus on skills development through instruction
  • develop formal learning outcomes
  • focus on embedding change in the system
  • people develop
  • promote lifelong learning
  • focus on formal results without giving advice
  • own the collaboration process
  • independent of the results
  • empathy between parties
  • focus on continuous improvement
  • enhance positive behavior
  • focus on developing frameworks and toolkits
  • advice based on skills and expertise
  • problem solver
  • develop formal paths for change
  • diagnostician
  • organizational design and support
  • advice based on experience
  • develop the status of “trusted advisor”
  • focus on developing “how”
  • minimize restrictions
  • inspire and align people
  • focus on developing shared goals
  • make support resources accessible
  • focus on changing mindset and behavior
  • develop structures to manage dysfunctions and conflicts
  • focus on listening

How do you become an Agile Coach?

In addition to the necessary practical experience, for example in agile development teams, and experience in (supervising) change processes, you also have the necessary personal characteristics (mentioned above). In order to grow in the role, it is initially nice to be part of a pool of Agile coaches, where you can learn from each other. Intervision and learning from each other’s experiences!

In order to master facilitation and training, you will have to give many trainings and workshops yourself. To learn by practise! Then you will immediately notice that not always things go as planned, and you will immediately learn to improvise.

From the consultant and mentor perspective you ensure that you are at the forefront of knowledge. That means a lot of reading. Books, blogs, whitepapers, LinkedIn articles, etc. Even better if you do your part and publish interesting insights.

If it appeals to you, then you definitely need to follow an Agile (DevOps) Coach training followed by the possibility of certification. That makes it complete.

Important in a certification training is that you not only learn from the trainer, but also from the fellow students and also train and help each other in this process.
In addition, it is great if you have the opportunity to join a pool of Agile (DevOps) coaches. To exchange experiences, attend workshops and organize.

Accredited trainer / coach for Lean-IT, DevOps, PRINCE2, Agile PM, PRINCE2 Agile, OBM en Scrum.

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