Does Your Coaching Build Roadblocks Instead of Relationships?

A big part of my role as an Agile coach is guiding clients through roadblocks.  The roadblocks come in all shapes and sizes—organizational, team related and personal.  I’ve encouraged reluctant executives, pacified anxious stakeholders, and coached old-school “waterfallers” into becoming agile advocates. But the one roadblock that continues to baffle me, comes from the most unexpected place—other agile coaches!

Almost every large organization has them—individuals that preach agile values both internally and externally but at the end of the day, let politics and paychecks get in the way of good practice.

The agile coach, more than any other role, should understand the critical importance of cooperation and collaboration. They should be mindful and espouse the agile manifesto and principles, which value customer collaboration, trust and transparency.

My plea to all agile coaches sounds something like this:

  • Partner with me.  Even if I’m a consultant, rather than an employee.  Even if I’m a consultant from a competing firm. Even if my boss or client is your boss’s or client’s political nemesis.  Even if I’m on the “wrong side” of the org chart.  Even if I’m not on the org chart.  Partner with me so we can build and design an alliance that is in the best interest of the customer as a whole.
  • Model collaboration.  The best way to help your team understand the benefits of agile collaboration is to model it yourself.  Show your clients how to navigate politics, processes and hierarchies to most effectively serve the needs of the end users by modeling collaborative behavior.  Coaches should develop shared key messages that keep all stakeholders focused on delivering value and promoting collaboration.
  • Be a resource.  Agile success is measured by how well we satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of value.  Agile coaches, who get wrapped up in internal politics, refuse to leave their silos, or are only focused on growing their business, limit not only themselves, but also the organization’s ability to deliver value.  Agile coaches should reach out, offer support and share best practices to aid other coaches and optimize the clients’ transformation.

As agile coaches, we can’t be roadblocks to each other.  We need to be a united front on the road to agile transformation.  That unity helps our stakeholders feel confident about the changes we are asking them to make.  We need to set aside personal gain and politics for the sake of organizational success—united we stand, divided we fall.