No matter where you are along your agile journey — just starting out, well into the ups and downs, or maturing and scaling — one question is bound to come up - “Should we hire an agile coach?”
Every day, organizations commit to ‘going agile.’ As a team of agilists, we’ve seen many superb organizations start this transformation well and achieve good results within a short span of time. Other organizations stumble early, prompting a re-start. And others fail to such a degree that regaining momentum is nearly impossible.
The key for all businesses is to tailor their transformation to their organization, their team culture, and business practices and align it to their specific business goals.
Successful organizations and smart employees often don’t see the need to change or struggle with reaching a consensus on what and how to change. Assessing and replacing old habits challenge the employees’ power structures and often, involving a third party can help identify and resolve friction points and gain consensus early in the process.
Here are five compelling reasons for hiring an agile coach early on, so that the transformation can lead to true, self-sustaining, and impactful agile adoption.
- Do you need help designing an agile portfolio management process that continuously tracks and prioritizes work according to its value and ability to advance your strategy? An agile coach can help.
- Do you need to reallocate development resources to maximize portfolio growth? An agile coach can help.
- Do you want to align strategy and development to ensure that releases deliver the most valuable features in your roadmap? An agile coach can help.
An agile coach can help you adopt agile methodology and methods at the team level, in the context of your work environment.
When you read the 12 agile principles, it all seems pragmatic. Many teams have made the mistake of thinking that it will be simple. However, these powerful principles are often difficult for teams to adopt and master.
When you read the 12 agile principles, it all seems to be full of common sense. Many teams have made the mistake of thinking it will be simple; however, these powerful principles are often difficult for teams to adopt and master.
That’s why it’s smart to engage a coach who can help you create an environment that maximizes acceptance of the changes that accompany an agile transformation. They collaborate with you to create a plan to keep the entire process transparent, iterative, and tailored to the actual work taking place in your environment, thereby fostering adoption.
- An agile coach can help you scale smaller, initial agile successes to the program level.
If you have achieved agility at the team level, you’re probably eager to scale your success. However, it’s important to tread lightly and understand that just because your agile teams consistently deliver value, you can’t just multiply your transformation by a factor of 10 without creating issues.
An agile coach brings experience and collaborates with you early in your agile expansion. Often leveraging the Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe®), an agile coach will combine deep experience of scaling agile and an understanding of your particular business environment and objectives. He or she will also help you anticipate potential problems and opportunities.
Using the agile principle of an iterative approach, an agile coach will keep your team on track as you scale the process in your organization.
- An agile coach can help your organization deliver high-value products that your customers want.
That’s one of the promises of business agility, right?
If you’re just starting out on your path to business agility, an agile coach will make sure that you create a custom roadmap for your organization. The roadmap will include recommended training and education, tools to support your goals (if needed), and ongoing support to get you started on the right foot to work quickly and shrink the gap between idea and the outcome. This will help deliver the products your customers actually want.
- An agile coach will get you to self-sustainable agility quickly so that you can grow your organization in a fiercely competitive landscape.
Perhaps, your long-established organization is getting hit by a disruptive startup or your market is changing due to customer demands, developing technologies, and/or new regulations.
Whatever the reason, in today’s business environment, you need to keep moving forward and while you’re moving, you need to minimize risks and maximize profitability.
When an agile coach collaborates with your team, he or she is an objective third-party observer helping your team identify entrenched processes that you use out of habit rather than them being better. Coaches also help companies reach a consensus on what to change, how to change, and how to deal with changes in the power structure that might threaten a team’s effectiveness.
The coach will also help you develop new agile principles and sustainable processes, and teach your team to become sustainably agile – a way of working that will continue to transform your organization long after the coach has left.
Finding the right agile coach for you
The point is that, with a coach, the actual work gets done right the first time — it’s the agile version of “measure twice, cut once.” All change is tough but if you do it with someone who has done it hundreds of time, your team benefits immeasurably from the coach’s experience and expertise. Good agile coaches know the pitfalls of change and can help you manage and avoid it.
Knowing that an agile coach can help you get to self-sustainable business quickly, agility is the easy part. The tough part is finding the right coach for your organization and doing the work of becoming agile.
Knowing that an agile coach can help you quickly get to self-sustainable business agility is the easy part. The tough parts are finding the right coach for your organization and doing the work of becoming agile.
In vetting potential coaches, help them understand your desired business outcomes because effective coaches will keep those outcomes at the heart of their work with your team. This will also help the coach know which colleagues in your network should be brought on as supporting team members to minimize disruption to your business.
Our team of agilists have seen many organizations start an agile transformation well and achieve strong results early on. Other organizations stumble early, prompting a re-start. And others fail to such a degree that regaining momentum is nearly impossible. Finding the right agile coach for you and doing that as early as possible in your agile journey will help ensure that your team sees strong results early and that those results are sustainable in the long run.