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Day in the Life of an Agile Coach

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Day in the Life of an Agile Coach

In my coaching meetup, my colleagues kept asking me to explain what my day looked like as an agile coach. Learn from my experiences as I show you my day.

· Agile Zone ·
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"What does the day of an Agile Coach look like?" In my coaching meetup, my colleagues kept asking me to articulate my days so other coaches could learn from my experiences.

What Does an Agile Coach Do?

My primary task is to entail implementing the Agile process, principles, and practices across all levels and departments in an organization. As an Agile Coach, I must apply techniques that enhance collaboration, predictability, transparency, and promote a culture of experimentation and innovation.

To accomplish this, the Agile Coach must also incorporate the Agile principles and led by example. Wait, I have been an agile coach for the last 7 years, and there are a plethora of developments in my days during my years and type of engagement. Most of the periods are more or less the same with variation, with engagement. The tasks are distributed and deliberately plan to accomplish the overall objective. There is always a time crunch!!

Team Level Agile coach: When I was a team level coach, I had 4–5 teams to coach for Agile Transformation at any given point of time. My day used to be filled with numerous activities, mostly I ensured that the Agile mindset and agile ways of being were embraced by the Agile team members. My typical engagement cycle time was for 7–9 members scrum teams; it was for a 6–9 months’ engagement for a complete transformation for a Scrum Team where Agile-Scrum+XP+DevOps practices involved.

Daily Tasks

All morning, I would be in conversation with all the 4–5 Scrum teams. I'd prepare plans on which team to check-in on which day of the week and for how long (1-2 hours max). Because I used to coach on all aspects of Scrum, Lean, Kanban, I would flow my practices to all the team members including the leaders. In the team rotation, I'd make sure to engage in all of their events and adjust my engagement based on how much training was needed for the team. 

Then, I'd do one-on-ones with SM, PO, Leaders, and development team members and work with Scrum Masters on the tools they were using. Sometimes, that involved mentoring them on tool usages and data analyzation. I would facilitate scrum events and ensure everything was running smoothly and that there were learning opportunities each month. 

Connecting team members was also a big part of my day. Most of my day I spent figuring out how to coach my 4-5 teams on different levels by journal preparation or reflections. Paying attention to each individual and their behaviors was an important part and coaching. When there were silos in product development flow, I would coach the support team members and determine how to eliminate those silos.

Some days, I would present all of my teams' progress in number executive meetings and comment on the hurdles and places we needed extra aid. Associating and working with the business side is an important part of being an Agile coach. To present the teams' progress, I would assess the Scrum Team's maturity, the Scrum Master and Product Owner's maturity, and the organization's maturity. 

Collaboration among all my scrum teams was a great way to share knowledge and let them learn from each other. Sometimes, it's as simple as going out for lunch with the team members (that's the fun part of coaching!).

More or less every day, this is the routine for a Team coach.

Agile Coach Challenges

  • Devoting enough time to all the teams
  • Working with numerous types of individuals at various levels of maturity
  • Leaders who expect a miracle to appear quickly
  • Leaders who will pursue you if something isn't progressing the way they want it to

Enterprise Agile Coach

When I was an Enterprise Agile coach, my days looked a bit different than Team coaching. When I was a more on enterprise coach, I managed to have only 1–2 teams to coach. Team coaching was like usual mentioned above, around 20–30% of the time in a day based on the other engagement. The nature of the teams was unique, we used to pick up most of the teams where teams are dealing with high ambiguity and complication in the product development flow. The challenges of these product teams are complex. 40–60% of the time, I had to look beyond team coaching for diverse organizational agile transformation activities.

Daily Tasks for Enterprise Coach

The first thing I would work on was report preparation for the Agile transformation in the business since I was accountable for the transformation work. We would prepare and present the progress reports to senior executives and define, publish, and educate the organization on key metrics that clearly show the progress.

Weekly stand-ups with business leaders were also on the agenda, where I was responsible for answering any questions about the business line agile transformation and for communicating with other team level coaches about any development and challenges.

Scaling agile was an important aspect of my role. I would assess if there were any needs in my business line or other business lines after I demonstrated skill in scaling. I'd participate in several training curriculum preparations for organizational level (e.g. Scrum Master) workshops. We would prepare games and other things to strengthen the training agenda. 

Engaging in the community of other coaches was important to me. For example, I would contribute and engage in scrum master or PO communities to ask what themes or conversation topics would be helpful. 

If any foreign visits were happening, we used to prepare the agenda and present the topics, so we could learn about the agile transformation from each other. Each quarter, there was a coach exchange from each alternative location to understand the cultural exchange and learning. We'd spend time for ourselves, too, and do book clubs or a coaching kata session. 

This role required me to prepare organizational assets (e.g. checklists, templates, models, guidelines, etc.), which would take several months of preparation to drive for the Agile Day. We were invariably busy all the time as an Enterprise Coach!

More or less every day, these are the routine tasks for every year for an Enterprise Agile coach. Once I look at my Monday to Friday calendar, one of the other tasks from the above, I'm realizing that we were always busy!

Enterprise Coach Challenges

  • Making time for organizational initiatives. 
  • Managing ad-hoc requests for help from strangers
  • Department level hurdles removal which appeals for structural modifications, silos ways of functioning, dealing with org resistance. 
  • Collaboration with numerous stakeholders and escalations.
  • Our own motivation!

Most of the activities are emergent and many parts are experimental in nature. It was a huge learning opportunity for all of us as a coach! This is how 5 years passed so quickly, and the journey continues to lead to new discoveries. 

Conclusion

Coach role on daily basis changes based on team coaching or enterprise coaching. The expectations and goals are different from both these roles. Skills and competencies are also different. The gradual progression is from Team coaching to start contributing to Enterprise level coaching. Sometimes, the coach needs to contribute to both these places. 

What does your day look like as an Agile or Enterprise Coach? Let me know.

Topics:
agile coaching

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