How to become a good Agile Coach?

Last post 02:11 pm April 9, 2021
by mango mind
7 replies
04:54 am March 7, 2021

Hello friends,

I am looking for some guidance here.

I have worked as a Learning Consultant for more than 9 years and also have rich experience of conducting Design Thinking workshops. With respect to Agile, I have some theoretical and practical knowledge of scrum and kanban. Also worked as a Scrum Master for a brief period. I have also recently completed PSK I certification.  

I wish to become a good Agile Coach. Can you kindly share your guidance for me? Should I be focusing on more certifications? What kind of project should I look for? Any tools I need to specialize in?

Looking forward to valuable responses.

03:53 pm March 7, 2021

You could look at the SM & PAL learning paths provided by this site, and then decide if you want to gain those certifications afterwards or not.  The certifications may or may not aid you in your job search; however, the learning paths will certainly increase your knowledge in those two areas. 

06:16 pm March 7, 2021

Also worked as a Scrum Master for a brief period. I have also recently completed PSK I certification.  

I wish to become a good Agile Coach. Can you kindly share your guidance for me?

Why not work as a Scrum Master for a longer period? Being an agile coach is one of the stances a Scrum Master adopts.

07:23 pm March 7, 2021

Most Agile "Coaches" you will comes across are little more than Agile Trainers. Those with a strong engineering background may even be good mentors, but coaching is a specific discipline which requires experience and credentialing through ICF or CCE. Also, professional or executive coaches can work with any department and are usually attached to HR. Whereas Agile "Coaches" (really Agile Trainers) work only with software development teams are attached to a Center of Excellence. Personally, I advise companies to invest on professional trainers (like PSTs) who are grounded in the principles.

01:16 pm March 9, 2021

Hello Sattwik,

You ask how to become a good Agile Coach and it's a good question?
Unfortunate I can only give you a well defined answer on the question "How to become a bad Agile Coach?" and show you an undefined path on "How to become a good Agile Coach?"

It's easy on "How to become a bad Agile Coach?", namely just follow a/any certification course for Agile Coach. it's just that simple.

Now "how to become a good Agile Coach?", well that one is harder to answer because there's no universal solution to this question.
There's however a path on which you can start your journey and this is important to know: this journey does not have an end destination. You are going to end up an Agile Coach somewhere  during that journey without even realising it at that moment. Just in hindsight you are going to realise that you are an Agile Coach, but the journey continues and you are on the path to become even a better Agile Coach, and so on...

The path is continues learning, getting experience, being open-minded, yet also being critical. You have already done your first steps and even miles. You learned /experienced Design Thinking and have some knowledge/experience with Scrum and Kanban. Now deepen your knowledge and experience of Scrum and Kanban, learn about eXtreme Programming, learn about teaching people, be a mentor, learn about DSDM, learn about real coaching, gain experience, learn about Agile itself (it is more than just 4 values and 12 principles), Learn about LEAN, learn about scaling (Nexus, Scrum@Scale, Scaled Kanban...), understand how scaling is already a part of DSDM, learn why SAFe is a scaling framework, but not really Agile, learn about Leadership, improve your communication skills, learn about implementing development, testing, analysing and release management under any Agile framework,....and so much more. 
Somewhere in that journey you will become a good Agile Coach, but it takes time and there are no instant solutions.

04:02 pm March 9, 2021

My advice is that first you have to stop thinking in terms of Agile and focus on agile instead.  The term Agile is something made up by people trying to commercialize the Manifesto for agile software development.  The word agile is a verb describing an ability to move quickly and easily.  That is the basis of being a coach on agile. Know what it is that you are coaching. Coaches do not tell people what to do. They educate people on how to react.  Take a sports team.  The coach might draw up some plays, tell people how to move, or coordinate the group in a concerted effort.  But those plays that are drawn up depend on the other team doing exactly what the coach expects.  That seldoms happens.  So the coach has to go further and help people learn how to think and react to changes in conditions in order to make the best out of the situation with which they are faced. 

Scrum, Kanban, eXtreme Programming, Lean, etc are all ways to help organizations be agile. Learn how the principles of those can help an organization move quickly and easily.  Learn how to adapt these frameworks and methodologies to different situations.  Learn how to combine practices from each into something that is effective for a single group.  Learn that there is no "right way of doing things".  Best practices do not exist but there are a whole lot of good ideas that can be used. 

Empiricism is the key for an organization to be agile.  Empiricism is premised on the knowledge that you can only make decisions based on the past or what you know.  It also suggests that you should continuously inspect and adapt based upon new learnings.  So learn how to teach people to make a decision based on what they know at the time the decision is made and not to try and predict what could occur.  Make a decision and act upon it.  Then as new information is uncovered, inspect what they are doing and adapt accordingly.  Those steps are ongoing continuously.  This aids in quick and easy movements. It also lets people be a bit less risk averse because the period of risk can be managed. 

04:49 am March 15, 2021

You've learned about agile. Learn about coaching. Then learn more about coaching.


If you are aren't a coach, you aren't an agile coach.

I agree with the above statements about training vs teaching vs coaching. Coaches inspire people to learn, rarely do they teach, but they often provide a learning environment.

When it comes to being an Agile Coach: a scrum trainer can reinforce to any team they should be using scrum to develop improvements to their product.

An Agile Coach has experience with a range of approaches and can identify when a team is in fact working on a project (eg: implementing a well defined product to a new customer base - there is no product development going on) or in fact doing nothing but support/maintenance - so for either of these two scenarios there is a good chance that trying to enforce scrum is a Bad Idea. You just produce yet another team of people who think Scrum sucks. In that environment the best thing for the agile coach to do is suggest "a different Agile approach" (or heaven forbid, even a waterfall one, if that's the most appropriate approach).

04:23 am April 9, 2021

There are many paths you could take to become an Agile Coach but to become an Agile Coach today, I believe that you should be extremely well versed in Scrum. There are coaches that specialize in XP, Kanban, or Lean, but 70-80% of the world is using Scrum. So you really need to understand and master the Scrum Framework.