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What is an Agile Coach? Overview of Key Responsibilities

July 16, 2012

As we continue our discussion about the different roles on a scrum team, we actually come to one that all agile project team members may find useful –the agile coach. The agile coach is someone who is experienced in implementing agile projects and can share that experience with a project team. The agile coach is responsible for providing feedback and advice to new agile project teams, and also to teams who want to perform at a higher level. 
 
The agile coach is similar to a golf coach. Most people use a golf coach not because they don’t know how to play, but because they want to hone their existing golf skills or develop more advanced skills. The golf coach objectively observes things about you that you may never notice while you are engaged in the game. Golf, like implementing agile techniques, is an exercise where small nuances make a world of difference in performance.
 
When you want to develop new expertise on your project, the agile coach is an excellent source of expertise and guidance. The agile coach:

  • Serves in a mentoring or coaching role only and is not part of the scrum team
  • Is often a person from outside the organization
  • Is able to provide objective guidance, without personal or political considerations
  • Is an agile expert
  • Has experience in implementing agile techniques in different cultures and environments
  • Has successfully run agile projects of varying size and complexity

 
An agile coach can also provide other valuable services.  The agile coach may help with long-term strategy across the entire organization before the pilot project.  Afterwards, the coach can help periodically check up on teams, help them stay on track with agile techniques, and fine-tune behavior as needed.  It makes sense for you to continue this coaching once your agile coach has already helped you create new agile processes.
 
Whether you are brand new to agile or have implemented many agile projects, the agile coach should be an essential ingredient in your agile recipe for success.