The Agile Coach harakiri

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As an Agile (consultant) coach your primary objective is to vanish as soon as possible, thats why i do not sign contracts for longer time than six months. Other objectives are of course inspire the organisation to desire to have an agile mindset and learn and try new ways of working. My first month or so is about to understanding the organisation and it’s challenges and opportunities. I seldom at this time give any advice, just listen. People starts to whisper about who this silent guru is and whats the need. But on my second month i challenge the status quo and doubt a lot, and i mean a lot. With this doubt i create discussions that often leads to change by the insights thats comes out from a real hard, but respectful, discussion. These discussions create awareness and desire of the change needed. After a couple of months my challenges often become fewer and it is a sign of a better state. Then we have reached the first mountain top on our way to an agile way of working.

During this journey i often push the team/managers ahead of me trying to inspire and create a safe climate for failing fast without risk. I do this primarily by education but also by challenging for discussions. After the push the team/manager gets a bumpy ride because now they need to catch up with stakeholder expectations, as they have promised in their annual plan. They will not reach the next top, that is higher, without any coaching support, they will fall back to buisness as usual. So i am there for them at the next top with a more pulling approach, meaning i suggest improvments in a more mentorish style and dont let them fall back to old habits, which they will do if i go away. In practice i run inspirational sessions, F2F coaching and become a pain in the ass for continous improvement.

To transform a company to an agile mindset will take as long time as the company is old minus the competence of the agile coach.

/Ove Holmberg

Then after another push from the second top it is bye-bye. The last month of my assignment i spend on training internal agile coaches to continue with the next team/manager and write my final report. This report, which i am alone of doing to my knowledge, is where the new agile (internal) coach should start, highlighting the ups and downs on the journey and what to do next. I firmly believe that agile coaches should be around, but not as consultants. If the team/manager by then not have seen the light with an agile mindset, perhaps we need to change approach or just fire the agile coach for a better one.

I fully understand this is harakiri for an agile coach like me, that makes a living of this, but there are a lot of organisations out there needing our support so i don’t feel sorry for them or myself. Just move on or get hired. More on this in my pod from 2021 called 150 agile coaches.

So, regardless of what the salesman says – get rid of your agile consultant coaches before they become legacy. They are better needed elsewhere and will so forever. See them as a fresh pair of experienced eyes to get started, not as your agile goto guy. I consider myself as the most experienced agile coach in Sweden and probably have the Swedish record in email-adresses (or as i say the most hired/fired agile coach), indicating i have succeeded with my harkiri.

But i shall be open with that these short gigs is frustrating for a person like me with a change mindset. I am always gone when the effect kicks in, and i later often hear that the organization now is working fine. Some day i will get an employment and be there to see the smiling faces as well.

Having said this – my current assignment ends 30 July 2022 and i am ready for another challenge. Of your organisation?

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