Many companies strive to become flexible in order to achieve the best business performance, find profitable solutions, implement projects more efficiently or introduce new technologies ahead of competitors. For successful transformation and consolidation of innovations, an effective change agent is needed – Agile Coach. The team can’t just read a document like “how to do” and start developing a project – programmers may need an ideological inspirer. We will try to explain to you how Agile consulting contributes to the transformation of IT companies and what tasks only an Agile Coach can solve in a project.
Briefly about coaching
When a person has psychological obstacles on the way to success, it does not hurt to seek help from a coach. Such a kind of spiritual mentor will help you with professional growth, unlock your potential and achieve maximum efficiency in business.
At first, coaching was associated with sports, when professionals prepared athletes for competitions and supported them in achieving victories. Later, students began to call their teachers that.
Interest in business consultants arose in the distant 1970s. Organizations hired technical experts with knowledge of psychology so that managers could consult with them on personal issues. It all started in the USA, where companies soon appreciated the importance of coaching. Such influencers were needed not only to support managers and increase their productivity, but also for business survival.
Nowadays, coaching is considered as a way of personal and professional development of employees, as well as a method of career development on the job. Business coaching has become part of the success of many companies. It is more difficult for people to move in the right direction without development and a coach who motivates their personal growth.
According to the International Coaching Federation (ICF), 86% of enterprises noted an almost sixfold return on coaching. It is also noted the increase in the team efficiency and employee retention, the improvement of service quality, as well as improvement of the company’s business processes. Let’s see how coaching is practiced in the IT field.
Coaches in IT companies
For the IT sphere coaching can be useful for managers who are climbing the career ladder thanks to technical knowledge, but have little managerial experience. The mentor can also help the entire team that is working on a specific project to solve important work issues. If we mention flexible methodology, then, as a rule, coaches are divided into business coaches, Agile trainers and facilitators.
Coaches combine people, processes, products and technologies to continuously improve the company’s performance.
A business coach works for an organization and deals with its strategic development, as well as creates its corporate culture. This helps managers to see business goals more clearly, set new short-term and long-term goals for the company and plan steps to achieve them. The coach offers indicators to measure progress and supports people’s motivation to follow the adopted plan.
The main goal of such influencers is to increase the efficiency of the entire company by introducing coaching practices that are selected based on business model analysis.
Business coaches help strengthen the company. They analyze the existing business model, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses, and also find problems and gaps. They then propose a plan to improve and optimize current business practices towards flexible management practices. A flexible business coach is less involved than others in the day-to-day tasks of implementing this methodology. Their prerogative is to promote compliance with Agile principles in the company, and not in separate teams.
This specialist works with programs, helping development teams improve processes, and oversees Agile facilitators. This guy teaches employees to be more productive through the use of flexible tools and to better understand how to improve processes. It will lead to the effective execution of tasks.
With the skills of a facilitator, the coach spreads the values and practices of Agile. He/she can discover the potential pitfalls of the transformation process, as well as learn and teach others to circumvent them. Coach promotes the speedy transition of employees to the best Agile practices, trains facilitators of flexible teams and evaluates the success of the company’s transition to a flexible methodology.
The flexible facilitator cooperates with several teams in which the coach has already set up processes, but they need support. There may be one facilitator for several teams, or this role is combined by the server manager (for example, Scrum Master) within the team, which is the most common phenomenon. Their main task is to facilitate meetings. But it is necessary that they all be heard – only then will the necessary result be obtained.
To do this, there is a certain structure of the meeting, which the facilitator adheres to. It all starts with the development of the meeting agenda and deadlines, followed by registration, opening, gathering information, developing ideas, analyzing priority issues, making decisions, and finally closing the meeting. At each stage, the facilitator uses his/her own methods, for example, brainstorming as one of the tools for developing ideas or voting when making decisions.
The facilitator participates in regular meetings, such as retrospective, planning, demonstration. This specialist also selects methods for conducting the most useful meetings and usually has his/her own place at every meeting. For example, in the demo version, the opening and closing of the meeting is part of it, and the demonstration itself is assigned to the team. During the demo, the presenter only makes sure that people do not deviate from the set timekeeping, and brings questions from the audience to the parking lot.
The most common type of coaching in IT projects is flexible learning and coach-training. Let’s focus on this in more detail and try to figure out what tasks Agile Coach solves.
What does Agile Coach do
Agile Coach acts as a carrier of Agile values, a master who shares his/her experience with other team members. By transferring technical knowledge, they simultaneously create an environment for the personal and professional development of each employee.
It may seem that a coach is similar to a traditional consultant, but there is an important difference here. The consultant gives direct recommendations, and the coach helps the team understand how to better set up processes and become more effective.
Agile Coach combines many roles: coach, teacher and mentor, facilitator and Agile expert. Let’s consider the tasks associated with these roles.
The coach has certain Agile practices, because he/she has passed a professional path and acquired knowledge in this area, so they can transfer their skills to others and share experience.
This role is somewhat similar to the previous one, but with the difference that the coach offers the right knowledge at the right time, based on the development plan of each “student”. These skills motivate them to personal and professional growth. The coach helps to plan a career tactically (what steps need to be taken now) and strategically (plans for the future) so that it develops in an interesting direction for the employee.
- Technical Agile Coach
The coach may be able to program or test, may understand web design, and so on. Such skills allow him/her to share their knowledge with colleagues. But this is only possible if they combine the role of a developer and a trainer within the same project.
- Business Guru
The coach can be an expert in innovation focused on business value and product development. He/she applies flexible business strategies and adaptive project management structures to achieve higher productivity.
- Conversion Master
Agile Coach often coordinates and leads the transformation of an Agile organization. He/she is usually well acquainted with change management, organizational culture, systems thinking and cognitive psychology.
The coach pushes others to make the right decision, without imposing his/her opinion and without offering the best options. This is a neutral process manager who manages groups and develops Agile specialists.
Agile Coach works on the development of soft skills among team members and explains how to cope with complex tasks.
So, Agile Coach has experience in implementing Agile projects and can share it with others. Moreover, he/she does this so that employees receive timely feedback, hone their skills, find optimal solutions, increase their efficiency and develop personally and professionally.
What else does Agile Coach do
According to data for 2020, about 30% of companies actively use Agile, and 40% of organizations prefer a hybrid format of work. But the trend is to accelerate product release by introducing flexible methodologies. Since Agile consulting and coaching promotes business growth through stimulating teamwork and increasing productivity, it is an important part of a business strategy.
Agile Coach helps the company to improve by optimizing business processes. He/she is able to solve problems that become an obstacle to achieving goals.
For example, a company such as Andersen is not able to reduce the release time of the product and maintain a competitive position in the market. A well-organized transition to a flexible methodology and team supervision can eliminate these obstacles. After all, communication between teams will take place faster, and the search for new ideas and effective solutions will take less time.
Agile Coach solves the problem of employee engagement when they are not interested in working on a project, or they do not have the motivation to work effectively. The coach is able to rally colleagues and form a sense of belonging. According to McKinsey, with properly organized Agile processes, the team’s interest increases by an average of 20-30%.
If someone from the team does not have enough knowledge to achieve the goal, the coach helps them to adopt new working methods and develop the necessary skills. Such behavior teaches employees flexibility, adaptability and the ability to respond to unforeseen situations. Therefore, Agile projects on average have 60% more chances of success than other developments.
The role of Agile Coaches is important for the effective implementation of any strategy and teamwork, as they lead flexible transformations. Today, not only IT companies are guided by new flexible principles. Examples of successful projects can be found in banking, insurance, medical and other business fields.
It is predicted that by 2026, the volume of the Agile transformation management market in the United States will grow fourfold and reach $18,189.32 million. Accordingly, more and more companies need an experienced coach who will give recommendations at an early stage when the team or management doubts the value of Agile.
Thanks to Agile Coach competencies, companies manage to eliminate organizational obstacles and develop adaptive flexibility that will regularly bring results. Changes can be difficult, but Agile Coach is able to mitigate them by providing the necessary support, knowledge and tools.