How to Measure Your Success as an Agile Coach

By Andy Sio
February 16, 2018

In a world that’s constantly moving at a million miles per hour, it’s no surprise that new roles have emerged in the professional space that have the term “agile” attached to the title. Until the “agile” framework came along, the position of “coach” was restricted to the sports field or the life guru sector, now, agile coaches can be the inspiration that drives a transformative business to the next stage of success. As companies around the world struggle to stay ahead of the competition with cutting edge technologies and newly emerging trends, agile coaches are the masters that know how to keep their team focused, yet adaptable. Here, we’re going to take a look at some of the characteristics that define an agile coach, and how you can measure your success in the coaching community.

The Characteristics of a Successful Agile Coach

The elements that make up the perfect agile coach can differ according to who you ask. For most, it’s about understanding your business strategy, but also knowing how to adapt when new trends and solutions emerge. As an agile coach, it will be your job to push your community towards a goal, taking the most recent technology and changes into account. With that in mind, you’re going to need to perfect some of the following skills:

1. Patience

An agile coach, just like any coach, needs to be patient with the people they are leading. If you want your business to be agile, then you need everyone in your company to fully-understand what you’re working towards, and not everyone is going to “get it” straight away. Ultimately, you’re probably going to be asked the same question a thousand different times, and you need to figure out how to keep your cool.

2. Flexibility

The agile framework can’t exist without flexibility. The whole point of being “agile” in the business world, is being able to adapt to changes in your marketplace. In other words, as a coach, you’ll need to be prepared for whatever happens in your organization, and have a certain strength about you when it comes to rolling with the punches. There will be times when you face challenges that leave you scratching your head and wondering what to do next. However, whenever you encounter a new scenario, you need to be able to take your tried and tested principles and apply them to different circumstances.

3. Teaching/Leadership Skills

As an agile coach, you’re more than just an innovator in your company, you’re a leader too. It’s up to you to introduce the concept of agile business to your team, and make sure that they understand how to make the most of the principles that you want your company to embrace. Don’t expect everyone to embrace your teachings immediately. You’re likely to see your co-workers making a few mistakes along the way to success. The good news is that in the agile world, problems tend to emerge sooner, rather than later, so you can nip potential issues in the bud fast, and get your team back on track.

Measuring Your Success as an Agile Coach

Of course, there’s more to being a great agile coach than simply knowing how to lead your people. You also need to make sure that your teaching methods are having the right impact. If you’ve been in the world of agile coaching for a while now, then you may know that most companies only have a short window of time to start fully embracing change, and engaging in a meaningful transition to the “Agile” framework.

It’s the task of an agile coach to catalyze transformation in a community, and enhance the opportunities that lay ahead of any given company. This could mean introducing your team to new technology that makes it easier for them to harness agile principles, or it could engage your team members and helping them to find their strengths and develop new skills so that that everyone’s on the right track in the agile transformation.

The problem that many agile coaches face, is that they’re simply not sure whether their efforts have been successful. While a coach on a sporting team will have a scoreboard to look at, as well as a record of losses and wins, the impact of an Agile coach can be subjective. So, how do you figure out whether your efforts as an agile innovator have been successful?

Search for Evidence of Efficiency

In an agile business, new products and developments are constantly entering into new cycles, meaning that companies can tap into the latest trends in the marketplace. If your efforts as an agile coach have had the right impact, then your cycle time should be as short as possible. Try to evaluate how long it takes to go from a new idea for a product, all the way through to incubation and customer delivery.

Many coaches who attempt to use the Agile framework attempt to gauge success by looking at the entire business, but ultimately the most important factor for you to think about, is whether your processes are allowing you to boost your bottom line and engage new customers by getting products out there as quickly and effectively as possible. It’s not the responsibility of an agile coach to make decisions, but to create a new learning environment based on evidence and insights.

Think About Quality

Remember, while speed is important in an agile framework, it isn’t the only factor you need to consider if you want your business to be effective. As an agile coach, it’s your duty to improve the efficiency of your team, without compromising on the quality of your products. The right software could help you to prioritize your goals so that you complete tasks in a more efficient manner, without having to cut any corners.

At the same time, you can access services that allow you to track your progress towards your end-goals, so that you can make strategic decisions based on the results that your company encounters as you move from one step to another in your business.

Language Change

One interesting evolution you may notice in your business as your agile coaching methods become more successful, is that the language your team uses starts to change. For instance, you might make a note of every time someone in your group says the word “speed” or “flow”. The more your group becomes familiar with the agile framework, the more their way of thinking will begin to change, prioritizing customer experience over other, old-fashioned metrics.

For many businesses, embracing agile is about moving beyond the thinking pattern that’s based around “we always do things this way”, and starting to look at new opportunities that emerge when you think outside of the box. As the language in your company changes, you might see that the general sense of excitement about the future grows too because your culture becomes more focused on the benefits of digital transformation.

Fewer Formal Meetings

If you have the right structures in place to make your agile coach experience a success, then you shouldn’t need to spend as much time on formal meetings to bring your people together and encourage them to collaborate more effectively. Meetings can be great in some circumstances, but most studies suggest that a team member who’s constantly plagued by meetings doesn’t have enough time to innovate.

An agile coach should be guiding their teams to solve problems quickly and effectively in real time. Waiting until a meeting to resolve something or make a choice can restrict the flow of your organization and add more friction to the product development process. If you’re still dealing with frequent formal meetings, consider doing a Payoff matrix analysis of your team and looking for ways that you might be able to bring more agility to the mix.

Concept Improvements

Finally, if you’re effective as an agile coach, then you should eventually begin to notice a positive change in the way that your organization behaves and evolves. Your team will start to take agile concepts and make them their own in everything they do, which means that you not only end up with better efficiency in your product management group, but also in your sales and marketing teams, and your planning strategies too.

Because agile encourages quicker thinking and more creativity, it also means that you could end up delivering products to your customers that deliver something far beyond anything you achieved before. As an agile coach, you’ll be able to encourage your team to question everything, and explore new opportunities whenever they arise. This means that you have a better chance of being on the cutting edge of your industry.

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