There are many roles an Agile coach can take, It depends on what is important below you find what I think and how I coach in a nutshell.

There are many roles an Agile coach can take, It depends on what is important below you find what I think and how I coach in a nutshell.

Imagine you are helping someone to learn how to drive a car as a teacher, coach and advisor with the Martial ART philosophy Shu Ha Ri, a good model for mastering anything (if that’s possible). A martial arts student progresses through three stages of proficiency called Shu Ha Ri.

  • Shu: Follow the rule.
  • Ha: Break the rule.
  • Ri: Be the rule.

These stages also describe agile teams as they first practice and then get good at agile.

A generic example when learn how to drive: As a student, you learn the basics of driving, traffic rules, handling the car in traffic (SHU). Here the trainer role is great for helping you as a student with the basic. As you develop, you notice that there are other ways and choices you may brake some of the rules learnt not the legal of course, then (HA) level can have been reached and used which also depends on the stated questions, situation and experience, when the basic knowledge is achieved, understood and practiced the Coach role is excellent for helping you as a student to find your own way. As a coach you can teach and coach others. And sometimes you may need to change back from coach to trainer, especially when you get to a roundabout and de student ask what direction. Left, Right or Strait a head?

Once you’ve learned how to drive and have your driving license, you might want to coach others or go out on long journeys, expeditions to find your own paths, ways and rules that you can learn and share to others by training, coaching or advising. Then you are at RI – level. Here you can find new ways and let others develop the ones you developed or learnt. In that way, we will be able to develop circularly. A lifelong collective learning.

Below you find two films on how I coach teams, myself in a nutshell and description of the the 3 roles below.

MY Way of Coaching in a Nutshell “Recorded from Agilequalitydays 2018 – SHLM”:

Self Coaching, in Swedish. Soon in English

When you teach, you lay down the law and teach the rules. This can be done Back this up with your experiences illustrating why this is so. In so doing, you teach both the practices and the principles. Both are rules. The practices are the basic moves. The principles tell the “why” for each practice. When in the Teaching style, embody these sentiments: “Follow these rules. I have followed them before, and I know they will give you what you want. So, for now, just follow.” “The rules work. Anything else is an impediment.” “Everything you could need is right here, in this simple framework, so look here for your answers first.” “Here’s how this works….”, start.

Coaching: The Coaching style requires the foundation laid by the Teaching style. With agile practices working well, the team starts transforming from compliance to rules to internalization of values from their range of experiences with agile. You need not prod them to go here; they will do so on their own, often too early, so feel free to kick in the Teaching style when they need more practice with the rules. Otherwise, stay in the Coaching style when you notice that they have started to see the intricate simplicity of agile done well and have discerned some reasons why agile works. As they move beyond muscle memory to consider a little more deeply what underlies the practices, help the team along by peppering the group with questions such as these:

  1. How do the values and principles of agile relate to your life?”
  2. Why does this way of working work?”
  3. What kills it?
  4. What renews it?
  5. What feeds it?”

Advising: The Advising style comes when the team has fully internalized the practices, values, and principles of agile and radiates good health. Things are running like a well-oiled ecosystem. As they push the edges, some altered expressions of the rules run their course and die off, and others spring up. Both outcomes get handled gracefully by team members as part of the natural course of life in an agile team. Self-organized, self-monitoring, and self-correcting, the team runs without you, but they may not realize it yet. To let the realization dawn, stay out of their way, knowing that they will ask for help from their trusted advisor (you) when they need it. When asked, the coach replies with advisor-like answers:

  1. I don’t know.
  2. What do you think?”
  3. May I offer an observation?” – Wait to be invited or not….when invited offer your observation……

Some guidiance.

  •  When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay.
  • When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go.

—Emma Thompson as Nanny McPhee.

This article is inspired by: Adkins, Lyssa´s book Coaching Agile Teams.



Author jpavlovski

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