Becoming an Agile Coach

Elyse PlattTue, 03/19/2019 - 09:13

The journey to becoming an Agile Coach is as simple as 1, 2, 3. In this article, I will share the three-part career development method I use that can also help with your coaching pursuits.

#1 Formal Training & Certification

Professional certifications can provide a strong foundation from which to build your career. I hold a technical undergraduate degree, a MBA, and multiple Scrum certifications; learning is constant as a coach, but certification may not always be necessary. There are many certification options available, including the ICP-ACC and ICE-AC (for which ASPE Training has online courses available) and options provided by or Agile Alliance. I recommend checking with your organization to understand if there is a preference for which to pursue. Each certification is a little different in the focus and purpose, but all are valuable in their own way. When acting as an Agile Coach, it's important to have a wide range of knowledge that you can pull from to help guide others; with that in mind, you may want to pursue courses and certification for scaling frameworks, such as LeSS or SAFe, or at least develop an understanding of the concepts through self-study. Regardless of the path you choose, I find certification to be a reinforcement of your attained knowledge while understanding that there is much more to the journey.

#2 Experience

I had a teacher many years ago named Mr. Nielsen who used to say, “Knowledge is Experience” because it is in doing what we truly learn.  That is, as you build your career, do not forget the experience piece; this is like the walls/framing that goes atop the foundation of training and certification. I consider experience to include the day-to-day of working in an agile environment while also practicing through activities such as training, mentoring, speaking engagements, or writing opportunities.  Continue to challenge your understanding and ability to articulate clearly and concisely. Truly live and exemplify agile in all you do; this also builds trust as you demonstrate integrity in practicing what you teach.

#3 Feedback

The third piece that I consider the topper to the structure is feedback. We all need to understand how others perceive our actions and obtain feedback for what can make us more effective in our roles.  Your own self-assessment may not always align well with how others experience your coaching. Take the time to receive feedback openly and act upon it accordingly.