The Strategist

Why your company needs an Agile coach

10/17/2017 - 08:40

Agile transformation is not just introduction of new principles of work. The goal of flexible methods is to teach people to think differently. This is much more difficult and often requires help of a specialist in Agile. So, what exactly he can do?

Lead the company to global change

Most teams switch to Agile in the course of the project and achieve some success. They do not want to break down what really works, so they try to make minor changes. At some point, the team starts to think: "I'm familiar with Agile, I have implemented practices that I understand and that are close to me, my team works better than before, and that's enough for me." Because of this, many refuse to complete the full transition to Agile. They are satisfied with insignificant improvements, but they have not seen a global benefit. A disappointment comes after the initial euphoria.

On the other hand, Agile coach will push the matter through: he will not be content with small changes. You will see the full power of Agile if you introduce all the principles, and not a small part.

Reassure hunter-gatherer

All employees hold onto their jobs to live and feed their families. This is normal. And you must understand that the fear of losing job goes hand in hand with fear of change. Agile-transformation forces people to change, which inevitably leads to an emotional response. Remember: when we are asked to perform unfamiliar tasks, we feel stress if we are not sure that we will be able to master new skills easily.

Deep in our subconscious sits a hunter-gatherer, who reasons like this: "Yesterday I had no doubt that I would do my job and bring home food for the whole family, but today I'm not sure about it." This is an important reason explaining the concern of employees. Agile coach will inspire the team to acquire new skills and help cope with the irrational reaction to change (which is actually quite expected).

Deflect a blow

Every new practice is a change, and there is always a risk of making mistakes. If this happens, people are often dismissed. A trainer on flexible methods will reduce the risk to a minimum and will take a hit on himself in case of force majeure.

Relieve the leader of daily routine

Usually, teams implementing Agile are testing the method on a pilot project. Often it starts with reading a book about Agile. After that, the person tries to implement any methodology in the team, while dealing with deadlines, mistakes, conflicts, changes in requirements and other problems that are inherent in any project. The leader does not have time to analyze, yet an analysis should be done when you introduce a new way of thinking about work. Agile-coach will take up the technical moments, assess the changes with a professional eye, and thus free you from many responsibilities.

Explain the essence of the changes

One of the reasons for unsuccessful implementation of the flexible methodology is lack of knowledge about the nature of Agile. Agile-coach (coach for agile transformation, facilitator - as you like) should explain to each member of the team the meaning of the change, so that they understood "why", and not just "what" is specifically needed. This will help change the way you work, and not just take the name of some flexible methodology and assign it to the usual practice.

For example, many do not understand the essence of daily standups. Employees perceive these meetings as ordinary briefs, where team members tell about their progress. In fact, the project manager listens to the results reports and distributes the tasks among the employees. However, such meetings should be focused on other points. An important task here is to replace the command-administrative form of government with self-organizing.

There are many details. Agile-coach helps to interpret them correctly and go beyond simply adopting new rules. The team begins to see the correct direction of movement and discovers new opportunities.

Based on "Learning Agile: Understanding Scrum, XP, Lean, and Kanban" by Andrew Stellman and Jennifer Greene