The Benefits of Agile Coaching: A Real-World Example

Platinum Edge currently has a multinational client that manufactures hardware and software which runs on their machines as well as PCs and mobile devices. Their clients (consumers) have frequent change requests as well as tight deadlines that also change, plus they are in a very competitive market.

This company has a forward looking COO who read something about this ‘agile stuff’ and made the connection that this was probably the only way for them to succeed in the current and future business environment. Specifically, he’s seeing in real-time that their traditional waterfall methodology is just not working; over budget projects, missed deadlines, overtime and a staff that has been beaten down in the process. Add to this that their financial situation was beyond tight. This company started in the 1950s, went public in the ‘80s, and now was running in the red so budgets for consulting and outside vendors in general are non-existent. Budgets are fought for, usually requiring cutting something else. There is no allocation for something such as an agile coach mid-fiscal-year.

So the COO sent a few people to our Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) class. These folks when back to work and spread the word internally about the value of the class, which led to us coming in-house for additional on-site scrum certification training with their product development teams (not just software/IT people). This is fairly typical for companies looking to transform their process and culture, “Let’s get training.” Their PMO Manager attended and quickly realized that the company culture was not going to be conducive for the change required to become an agile organization. He knew that with all the little empires and bureaucracies in the organization, an expert from the outside was going to be required. Agile coaching is a natural fit for this to put their training into action faster. Coaching not only helps companies transforming to agile, but is also perfect for companies that are agile and need higher performance. That is, there are a lot of people out there “sort of doing scrum” and so results are usually also “sort of good.” Coaching accelerates change and accelerates performance.

The PMO Manager, working with us, championed the internal coaching campaign knowing that any outside consulting service that requires an actual budget was going to be near impossible. After one well-represented meeting of stakeholders and a few phone calls, consensus grew, and we got a modest pilot project identified, and kicked it off in about 30 days.

After a mere 3 weeks of coaching, the company not only wanted to continue with our coach, but they are now moving forward with multiple coaches in multiple cities, and on multiple projects. The budget for this has become magically available mainly because in 3 short weeks they’ve seen dramatic results with rapid progress, significant cost reductions, higher quality, no scope-creep, as well as happier more productive people.

As we often say at Platinum Edge, Tiger Woods has a swing coach not because he’s learning the game of golf, but because he’s a high performer and needs to stay a high performer. Every company should get a coach to truly transform to agile, and on an ongoing basis to keep their talent performing at a higher level.


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