How to become an Agile Coach?

Scott Oliver & Paweł Feliński - two experienced Agile coaches met again to expand on their life-long journey towards developing superb coaching skills. Watch webinar and hear:

  1. Real-life challenges
  2. Case studies
  3. Benefits of becoming an Agile coach
  4. Tips for those who may want to become Agile coaches themselves

Webinar transcription

How to Become an Agile Coach?

[00:00:03.090] - Speaker 2

Hello. Welcome to the fourth Agile Encounter. Today's. Scott Oliver. Together with me, Pawel Felinski, will be talking about becoming an Agile coach. We prepared a few stories to share with you, but also a few interesting materials to look at. So let's take a look at what we will experience today. First of all, before we go into the direction of who is an Agile coach, how to become an Agile coach in general, we need to find out what does it mean to be an Agile coach? There's no one definition. I think both Scott and I have different points of view at the topic. Then Scott's journey, he will tell us how he became an Agile coach, what his story is. We will take a break then and we're going to talk about what's the background of Agile coaches, because I believe you typically don't graduate and become an Agile coach. There's something in between. There are different paths and we may explore it. I'm going to share my path as well. I hope you will like it. And then a topic slightly derated to the main theme of our meeting today. So what's next? You are an Agile coach, what's next?

What is an Agile Coach?

[00:01:27.130] - Speaker 2

Is there any career path defined? Let's start the first topic. Scott, I am really curious, what is an Agile coach? How do you define it?

[00:01:42.910] - Speaker 1

Hi, everybody. Thank you, Pawel. So it's a question I've been asked literally every single time I speak to anybody when I work with them. Like, what do you do, what's the value in what you do? What's another good? It's a really difficult question to ask, especially if I'm speaking to people who I'm not working with, like friends and families. What do you do for a living? It's really difficult to describe because there's a lot of things, there's a lot of complexities involved. I think the way I like to sum it up is almost a change agent, somebody who's there to try and improve and really encourage others to improve and almost to become the best of their ability. I like to focus on the stuff on the right hand side of the words Agile coach. So the coach part of it. So I've done a lot of coaching and I'm very much a firm believer in that Nigel coach should start with the coaching side of things, rather than go jump in and tell people how to do their job sorting. Because I've never experienced their jobs, I may not know exactly how they do their job, but I can certainly help guide them and ask them certain amount of questions that will help them become better in what they do.

[00:02:45.990] - Speaker 1

The Agile side of it is obviously another pathway. So I think an Agile coach really needs to understand what the Agile means. So you ask many different people what Agile means and there's a different meaning. Literally. This week I've asked about 15 people in interviews and coaching calls and not one single person. Give me the same. I like to bring it back to the manifesto, obviously from 2001 for software development, which is about values and principles. And I really like to use the term which is not mine, Gunther over here and uses it in humanizing the workplace. So somebody who really tries to help others improve and encourage them to be better in their workplace from an Agile perspective. That's what I think. What do you think natural culture is?

[00:03:31.410] - Speaker 2

Somebody told me once, or maybe I read it somewhere, if you can't explain what you do or any kind of topic to your grandma, you actually don't understand it, right? Because if you can explain in very plain, simple words, you are good. So I tried with my mom, with my father. They have no clue what I'm doing. Because indeed it's complicated. It's really complicated. I like your thought. You started with Agile also. Agile have different meanings. Very often on basic training sessions, on Scrum or Kanban, I start with a story that I interviewed in my life, previous life as a manager, dozens of candidates to become Scrum Masters. And the most simple question I could ask them these days was hey, what is Agile? Can you explain it to me? Different answers. But what was interesting? Every single candidate started their answer with the same words for me. Well, for me, Agile is for me, but what it is in general but I'm not going to that path, that's different discussion for me. Agile Coach is a profession that is related to many, many other disciplines coaching, teaching, facilitation, but it's also a Bosworth this interesting, it's an Agile Coach, typically not Agile Mentor or Agile Consultant, although these names would be also visible.

[00:05:00.530] - Speaker 2

So I do agree with your definition. But very often I'm asked what is the difference between a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach? And here where something interesting happens. Years ago I attended a training session by Lisa Atkins and Michael Spite and they showed me this model, the one that I'm showing on screen in here as well. If you are attending IC Agile courses, you could be familiar with this one. There are, according to them, three levels of Agile coaching as a profession. The basic one is Agile team Facilitator. A person who facilitates an Agile team works, many would say, and I disagree that that would be Scrum Master. In Scrum, if this is the method of choice, I disagree because Scrum Master doesn't work with the team. Only Scrum Master works with the entire organization, product owners, stakeholders, whoever's needed. And it's written actually there in the Scrum guide, there's an Agile Coach working perhaps with department, perhaps with multiple teams, maybe with Agile Team Facilitators. And somebody that who we name enterprise Agile Coach. So a person who works with executives. That's how this concept was sold to me. Scott, do you like it?

[00:06:20.970] - Speaker 1

Yeah, I do. And I don't at the same time. I think it puts context around things. I think an Agile coach and Agile Team Facilitator are kind of the same thing. I think you're a team coach, you're working with people, you're working with teams. It might be one or multiple teams. I think the thing I've always struggled with is the difference between an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master. I think I've experienced a lot of people who are Scrum Masters, are Scrum Masters and still are to this day, who really focus just on their little silo team and never step out of their comfort zone and actually go and work with the program, the product, the wider enterprise, the leadership. And I think no matter how good your team is, you ain't going to get anywhere without stepping out of that comfort zone and actually going working with the organization and the enterprise level. So I think Scrum Master needs to step into that. So what's the difference between natural coach and the scrum master? Which is obviously a different question. So that's always been a book. Bear in mind, I don't think there is far from your focus.

[00:07:18.490] - Speaker 1

I think a natural coach needs to probably broaden their frameworks out a bit, but essentially the details is the same. But yeah, Agile Team Solar say that obviously the IC Agile route starts with this, then there's the coaching, and obviously further on as well. So I do like it, I just think it can be misleading because some people go oh, therefore an Agile Coach is more important, or an Agile Coaches, they get paid more. And sometimes I move you actually work.

[00:07:47.430] - Speaker 2

I move you totally. So I like it and I don't like this model at the same time. It is a nice concept, I think it's useful indeed. But especially if you compare it to the role of a Scrum Master, this set of accountabilities in Scrum, it might be misleading. Scrum Master technically should be everywhere over here. I heard an interesting comment once a few years ago already from Voicing Balcheck, from Eric, from our company. His thought was very interesting. The difference, he said between Agile Coach and Enterprise Coach, in his opinion, is not only about the skill set, because somebody would say this is a development path. You become Agile Team Facilitator only then you become an Agile coach. Maybe Team Facilitators report to you, that would be odd. And then you become Enterprise Agile coach. That shouldn't be like that. But he said there is an interesting difference. It might be that actually Agile Coach or Agile Team Facilitator is way, way more skilled than Enterprise. Agile coach. If we take a look, all the skills needed to work with teams, for instance, or with the product. But the significant difference, and I agree with that actually, is the reaction time.

[00:09:07.310] - Speaker 2

If something's wrong in the organization, somebody's behaving not according to Scrum rules, for instance. Typically Enterprise Agile Coach reaction would be emitted, while Agile coach would, for instance, wait until a relevant moment appears, maybe wait to the end of the sprint to run a retrospective. So direction, time, also systems thinking, that would be the difference. Where do you see yourself on that picture, by the way?

[00:09:34.790] - Speaker 1

All of the above. It depends on what context I'm in. So one day I could be in the blue, the enterprise, agriculture, the next day I'm facilitating something for the junior team or whatever that might be. It makes no difference for me. There's a goal in terms of their improvements to be made and helping people get there and guiding them and whichever heart I need to put on that day. If I'm working with senior leadership team, I'm working across multiple programs or the executive directors of the organization, which I've done in the last couple of years, is facilitating workshops for them. Technically I'm self-facilitating what I'm doing at that level. They're just people at the end of the day and everybody's got different needs. So you need to really change and respond to change and how and really be Agile. Really. It's quite ironic really, in the names in the job title. So I see myself across all of them really at different times.

[00:10:30.810] - Speaker 2

So what's your journey? How have you become an Agile coach?

[00:10:36.180] - Speaker 1

Oh dear. Yeah. So it's always an interesting one. People ask me this one. I've been doing digital and technology and working with people and organizations for many years. I used to be a freelance user, experience designer. I used to design websites and apps and stuff. And at the time I used to get called into organizations and I'm talking like design agencies. I had my own clients and stuff. They used to call me in like when they're really under the pressure. Scott, we need your help, can you come in and help us? Like an extra pair of hands. I was a designer, I used to do the actual work. I never even heard of this Agile thing. And I used to look at the way they were working while I got there. And I understood straight away that actually you weren't delivering because you weren't organized. So I was quite organized and I managed to get them working in some sort of kanban system without actually understanding what that was at the time. This is going back a long time. Did that for many years, seven or eight years as a freelancer. Moved into my first professional corporate job.

[00:11:36.110] - Speaker 1

Had to wear shirt and pants, tie and that sort of stuff. And I wasn't an Agile coach at the time. I was actually called an ecommerce manager and I was part of a team. I was still a doer, but it was very much on the delivery side and trying to encourage people and always acting as that changes and trying to encourage improvements. Wherever you see issues, you always not necessarily try and fix them, but try and encourage others to try and come up with the problems and the solutions, but trying to improve the system and the teams that I was working with and whoever I was working with at the time. And over the years it just progressed into more delivery roles and more that role, until I eventually become a Scrum Master. And I really engrossed myself in that scrum master role. And I think I was quite confident in the fact that and I understood the Scrum Master role, that it wasn't just working with the team. So I stepped out of the Scrum Master role, being working with the team from pretty much day one, and all of a sudden making myself into the more into an enterprise Agile culture role, because I found that you have to do that because of the impediments of the organizations I was working in at the time.

[00:12:36.530] - Speaker 1

Because if you didn't do that, then we were never going to do anything. The team always getting blocked by various different things going on this, access to this and permissions for that. So as part of being a good Scrum Master, unblocking some sort of stuff and then encouraging others to do the same, I stepped out of that. So my transition into an Agile Coach as such came a few years ago when I eventually got over my ego and go, I'm not an Agile Coach, I'm a Scrum Master and I'm doing the job really well. And I got to the mindset of actually I do more than just scrum here. So I do believe a good Scrum Master, a great Scrum Master should do more than scrum. But then really, are you an Agile coach? And I think I was talking to our colleague Tony Richards on the course a couple of years ago and just before COVID and I was still in that mindset like, oh, it's really annoying having to call myself that. But then I realized, actually, maybe I should start calling myself an Agile Coach. And I've just got used to it over the years.

[00:13:31.970] - Speaker 1

But the transition has been a long, hard slump. But I think what really helped us is just having that confidence and the ability to challenge and the ability to not take no for an answer, solving and then challenge in the right way. My background, yes, it was in design and user experience. It was all about the journey, all about the user and obviously what's right for the user and obviously what the value is. But I really focused on the people side of things and I really wanted people to do well and I wanted to bring the best out of other people. And I think that's if you get a good Agile Coach, they should probably have the same thing and have the ability to challenge. The amount of times I see coaches coming into organizations, or Scrum Masters or whatever, or people coming into organizations where they literally will do as they are told and not challenged. I don't think they're doing the job doing the job justice, really.

[00:14:26.550] - Speaker 2

Scott, as far as I can understand you, there was no thick line. I was not. And now, from this day, I am an Agile coach. How long was the transition? Was it a matter of a year, five years, a decade?

[00:14:40.090] - Speaker 1

I would say if I'm adding up the years in organizations, it's probably about nine or ten now. But if I was to include my previous life as a designer and helping people in that respect, then probably a lot longer, a good ten years, maybe more. But whether I would have the confidence to go and work at the enterprise level right back then, I'm not quite sure. I certainly think you need to do that in order to be successful in what you're doing. But yeah, a good ten plus years, I would say. There's no definitive line across that was merged, some job titles changed, that sort of thing. But the behaviours, the values are always there.

[00:15:24.230] - Speaker 2

All right. Thank you, Scott. There's a question in the chat window. I'm not sure if it's to ask because somebody has answered already, but the question is, do you have any coaching, pure coaching, professional coaching qualifications? And I think we may answer the question in a while because this is a very nice segue to one more chart wanted to show to all of you. This is, again, inspired by IC Agile work. This is one of few models that I serve that tell us what are the competences, what are the skills of Agile coaches? No matter of the level, by the way, I'm not going to go into all of that because we have our own topic of the webinar today. But in brief, if you are an Agile coach of whatever level, definitely you grow nonstop, I think, to the end of your professional career in lean and Agile world. More and more practices, more and more and more techniques, experiences that you can get over there. So this is the core part of that. There are four, according to this model, four key areas of competences that are very, very helpful, useful in your job.

[00:16:36.740] - Speaker 2

This is training, this is mentoring, Facilitation and coaching. It doesn't mean, I guess, that in order to become an enterprise Agile Coach, you need to be certified coach, certified Facilitator, trainer and mentor. You could be, by the way, but it doesn't mean that you have to it's simply you need to understand these you have to have some skills, relevant skills relevant to your job in all these areas. Do you have any coaching qualifications as such? Because out of all these four major competence areas, it's Agile Coach, not Agile mentor, trainer or Facilitator. That's the name of the profession, right?

[00:17:20.250] - Speaker 1

Yeah, I do. I think coaching is one of those things that once you get the concept and you practice it and learn it and really practice it and get the experience. I understand there's organizations out there, Governor Bodies, ICF, etc., and various different groups and companies that train you and how to be a coach and that sort of thing. I really think it's great. But the thing that you get from that is the experience. The coaching qualifications I've got is I've got my Practitioner and Master Practitioner NLP, which is Neuro Linguistic Programming, which is a slightly pseudoscience, sort of like non. It is coaching and it uses coaching techniques. It goes a little bit into therapy and mind and that sort of stuff. It's not an official recognized by ICF, I can't even know what it's called now. International Coaching Federation. That's the one ICF, and it's not recognized by them, which is frustrating because I've got the hours and I just can't get that. I need to do a little bit more. So I've got the qualification in that and in coaching. But I think, I generally think once you've got the basics and understanding of it, if you practice coaching and actually understand what that is, it's another one of those things, what is coaching.

[00:18:33.470] - Speaker 1

And people always jump to the left hand side and jump into mentor and think that's what coaching is. And actually I don't necessarily believe that at all. But yeah, it's one of those. I know loads of professional coaches, nothing to do with Agile that haven't got coaching licenses that are absolutely just mind blown to work with. I've worked with many coaches like that before they had the qualification. But I do recommend getting some sort of career training and coaching yourself so you get to understand it and then you can practice, practice, practice, practice makes permanent. That's what I say.

[00:19:06.990] - Speaker 2

Fair enough. There is something here on the picture down there. There's something that I actually wanted to talk about right now. Technical business or transformation packs in comparison to the lineage part and those blue areas of competencies. These yellow bricks over here are your history, your experience. What did you do before becoming an Agile Coach or taking this path? If you used to be an engineer, software engineer, quality assurance engineer, it doesn't have to be software. And then you became an Agile Coach, most likely you're good, you're here on the technical path. That means that in comparison to other coaches, perhaps you will be way more effective working with developers, working with teams, because you used to be a member of a development team and you understand their concerns. If you used to be business analyst, maybe UX researcher, maybe a product manager. So you work with business, you are from business, you work with product. Perhaps your path towards becoming an Agile Coach is a business path. You will be way more effective in comparison to other coaches working with product owners. And if you wear I don't know who, HR manager, somebody involved in transformation, organizational transformation in any kind of digital transformation.

[00:20:45.910] - Speaker 2

For instance, you understand systems thinking, you understand the ways, how we change organization. You understand the culture of organization, system coaching, including perhaps your background. Your path is transformation path. You would be way more effective working with organization if you compare yourself with other coaches. What is your path? Because I would place yourself, based on your history, somewhere between technical and business.

[00:21:13.900] - Speaker 1

01:00 A.m. I right. I was on the left hand side, the technical side, from a professional career sort of thing. I was a doer in the team. I was a designer, UX designer. I made pretty pictures and made things work for users originally. And then I moved into like I would never call myself a web developer back in the day. I wasn't ever a developer. A real developer could code things in one line that I could do in ten. I could make them, I make it work. It was a front end development, making pretty pictures on the web work when you click that button, and nothing worked from there, but the button was on the page. So I was on the left hand side, the technical path. That's why I would place myself very much in that.

[00:21:58.390] - Speaker 2

Fair enough. All right. My path would be slightly similar maybe towards business one. My story is slightly different, but also similar in terms of the transition period. I started as a developer programmer years ago. Perhaps not the smartest engineer in It these days. Really? My heart was beating in a different area that was please sit down, everybody. Project management. So very fast I became a project manager. Not an Agile one, but a very water, foolish heavy metal water flourish project manager in a German company, by the way. And that was nice, actually. At some point of time I had this privilege and opportunity to see organizational transformation and be part of that. An Agile transformation. The corporation decided to move from the current ways of work towards Agile. We got excellent trainers, really, those who, you know, from books, authors of many books that we all read, and we serve them all, we learned. But moreover, these days, 1516 years ago in Poland, we didn't have so many scrum masters, Agile coaches, professional ones, if you were to hire one, I guess there wasn't a lot of them. So we didn't have anybody to learn from.

[00:23:27.250] - Speaker 2

That's why whatever we learned was so emergent. It was learning by doing, by failing, a lot of failing. We had support of these international recognized coaches, but they visited us for a week once a year or half a year, so there was not a lot of support over there. My career path then turned a little bit toward the middle part on the chart business. When I became product manager, product owners, I work with business a lot. I liked it. And it's only ten years or so since I became full time Agile coach. Although nowadays I would say it's more like consulting, broader management consulting, that's what I do. And fun fact is that if we take a look at the picture that I showed before, the one with competences, I think it all started with Facilitation because that's what you do initially, you run the meetings, you want them to be very good. But as I progress on my career path step by step, I realized that I need simply more skills and other competences and it was never like that but I thought, oh, I'm going to become a certified coach. But quite early I found out what coaching is and what are the basic techniques of asking so called powerful questions and that was enough for years.

[00:24:48.920] - Speaker 2

And when I grew up, I thought professionally, I thought that's not enough, there's way more and I took relevant school of coaching, no certificate by the way, because I needed skill. I never wanted to be a professional coach, I needed skills to support my job, my profession. Same with training, by the way. So that was me. That doesn't make sense at all.

[00:25:16.050] - Speaker 1

Yeah, definitely. I think like I say, the experience is key. You can go and do a training course, it's the same as a Scrum Master Roger course. You can go and do a 14 hours training course. It doesn't really make you it gives you the basic skills but you need to go out there and practice it. That's why I say practice makes permanent, especially with coaching facilitating, you get used to doing it and it almost becomes second nature and how you should respond, how you should behave. So yeah, definitely.

[00:25:41.310] - Speaker 2

I'm looking nowadays at people who are starting their career, professional career and I observe more and more, it's not a big crowd, but more and more people whose first job is maybe not an Agile coach but a Scrum Master. Typically they join Scrum teams, graduate studies or even not versus an internship, becomes Scrum Masters immediately. On the one side I think, wow, that's a huge leap. If I compare how we started Agile Journey years ago on the other side I think we missed a lot of on the job experience. You can become an Agile coach instantly from day one of our career, but it takes years anyway to see what and how works in different industries with different teams. I encourage everybody, for instance, to experiment. If your first Agile coaching position was in an international corporation, awesome. But find your next job should be maybe a startup, maybe something small, up to 200 people. Different dynamics, different challenges. But also you can bring your experience from big corporation where we have some procedures. It's not so much mess to a startup for the benefit of a startup and vice versa, by the way, depending on where you are and where you will start.

[00:27:02.070] - Speaker 2

I wonder Scott, what your idea is? What is the career path on Agile coach? You can be a veteran, better Agile coach, I believe, right? You can take the ladder. So I focus on teams now. I'm focusing as an Agile coach on multiple teams, and now I'm Enterprise Agile coach. It's really one path, but okay, I'm nearly 40. I will be retired in 20, maybe 30 years. Should I be an Agile coach forever? Next 30 years? I can be only better and better, or are there any other possibilities? What do you think?

[00:27:41.010] - Speaker 1

I think for me, the people we worked with, the executives, the leadership teams, the managers within organizations, they're the ones that we are encouraging and trying to help change. And I think when I think about what I do in a daily job, I almost think, what will I do in the future? It's like, maybe I'll take maybe I'll do one of those roles, maybe I'll take one of those. In a way, I've got a real chance and I'm one of the decision makers that will make the decisions and really take all my experience and knowledge and put that into this one organization. I don't know. It's an interesting one. I sometimes wondered myself whether I should go down that route sooner rather than later or not. I must admit I'm quite enjoying helping and I love being able to help multiple things. And I want to try and get as much experience as I possibly can before I possibly would move into that. Yeah, I think maybe taking a role inside an organization at a senior level where you can really foster the experience and put that into practice is something, whatever that might be.

[00:28:45.370] - Speaker 1

What about yourself?

[00:28:47.690] - Speaker 2

I'm asked this question quite often during training sessions and well, you can do whatever, right? Anybody I know a few project managers who at some point of their life thought, I'm not going to do it anymore, let me open a shop with flowers, for instance. Literally tiny shop with flowers. Nothing online, just a shop or a garden, whatever. But if we are serious about mainstream, mainstream career paths, I would say yes, you can be better and better in Agile coaching. And it is a way, and I have people who love it. I know people who find themselves as not skilled enough to speak to leaders, to executives, for instance, because it requires different language, perhaps different experience as well. But they are awesome Agile coaches as such, and we want to just do it forever. So that's one thing, and I wouldn't be afraid of that another one slightly, partially my path to become a trainer. Very often you find out that being in this trainer stance of Agile coaching is actually fun for you and you like it and you're good at it. You become a trainer, perhaps licensed trainer, certified trainer. I know people who quit their Agile coaching job and become independent trainers, just delivering training from that.

[00:30:17.910] - Speaker 2

I think there's a way also to become a consultant. To the same coaching, facilitation, mentoring, but not from the perspective azure only, but broader consulting looking from a system perspective on the organization. But what is really inspiring to me are these few people I met in my life who changed their Agile coach role or Scrum Master role or Enterprise Agile coach role and became managers, few of them even executives of big companies. There are also managers as I observe them right now, because all we teach or we preach as Agile coaches related to being people centric, people focused, related to culture and so on. They know it, they've been there and they simply apply it into their life. Do you know any people like that who just pivot? I was an Agile coach and now I just turned around.

[00:31:19.290] - Speaker 1

I don't off the top of my head, I know that I'm quite excited for future CEOs because I feel like there's a lot of people that do what we do that will possibly take that route. And I know many really fantastic coaches that I think who are inspiring. And I think if they were in an organization, that's the type of person that you would want to lead and you want to be like, I would love to work with that person, I'd love to work for that person. There's many people I've worked with over the years that possibly could have been in our job coach role, but maybe they haven't really done that. I've seen Scrum Masters move into more management roles. I think that the catch is whether you keep the traits and the behaviours of what you had when you had the job title of a culture, scrum Master into that management role and you are quite called a manager. I think that's always a difficult thing. And there's an expectation in organizations that you have to act a certain way. And if you not seem to be depending on how the culture is an organization, you're not seem to be like managing things and building the empire, then maybe you might be perceived a different way.

[00:32:25.490] - Speaker 1

But I think the real true people are the ones who follow more leadership path or almost flipping the hierarchy upside down. And the ones that are saying I'm there working for the team, not the team working for me the other way around, so I'm there to serve them, what can I do to help them? I think that's the ones that are going to be making the future CEOs and it's quite exciting, I think, when you look at all the innovators around the world and all the big organizations that have really disrupted the world, the people who are leading them, they're all visionaries, et cetera. Some of them probably don't quote down the Fortune lead seven leadership groups, a lot of them that do. And it's quite now, with the way the world is and obviously moving over the time, it'd be interesting to see in the future how many future CEOs, CEOs of the future will be really interesting to follow that?

[00:33:14.110] - Speaker 2

I know a few people. Having a lot of people who started being Agile Coaches or Scrum Masters part time. I was an injury. I used to be an engineer, but I'm also a bit an Agile Coach and then full time Agile Coaches. Do you know anybody who had different strips? So I am full time Agile Coach and actually I'm actually becoming part time Agile Coach, part time somebody else. The reason why I'm asking is I don't know what's happening in the UK, but it's so often I receive a job offer to become an Agile Coach Project Manager and I'm confused.

[00:33:53.130] - Speaker 1

Yeah, I know people who were in a Scrum Master role that missed the development side of things and they just really wanted to get their hands dirty, so they've went back in. So they kind of went full circle. So they started being a developer, then moved into a Scrum Master or Natural Coach role and then went into a development after role because they really miss it and they don't want to be hands on. So during their time they did a drew overall coach, whatever. But in terms of when you see the Project Manager Agile Coaches, I always tend to get a bit worried about that because really are they actually wanting somebody who's real changes? Are they wanting just a project manager? There's nothing wrong with the project management at all, whatsoever. They're fit for purpose and all that. But are they really wanting that? And if I was to take that role on, let's just pretend to do, how would that be perceived? When I say I act in a certain way, it's a really difficult one. But I have seen a lot of roles in the last couple of years. Scrum Master, RGL Coach and then they add on what they really want.

[00:34:56.750] - Speaker 1

Delivery Manager project Manager developer. I've seen what is the one product owners. They seem to have a lot of those as well. So you're technical product owner. I don't know what the difference is.

[00:35:13.810] - Speaker 2

Interesting one. What made my day literally a few days ago on LinkedIn, I think I shared earlier with you somebody's looking for angular junior Scrum Master, the fair enough. I crafted the picture and the picture is a sort of summary of what we were talking about right now. So different ideas, different paths for further development of Agile Coaches. Either becoming a professional trainer, full time trainer or consultant, maybe manager. I'm really interested in what the other path, the yellow path or who could be. I think there are as many stories as people ask people to share. Senior mobile scrum master. That's awesome. Also great and awesome. I'm looking into the chat window. We are about to finish very soon. Before then, I wonder if there are any questions from the audience. I'm turning on the Q and A mode. So whatever question you will put into the window, Scott and I will see it. We can give you 1 minute for that. Let's give it a try.

[00:36:23.290] - Speaker 1

Master SMSM, twice the value there.

[00:36:27.640] - Speaker 2

I heard about BDSM, that's business delivery scrum Master, just in case you didn't know.

[00:36:36.880] - Speaker 1

I'm sure there's value in all the roles.

[00:36:41.440] - Speaker 2

I think. So my impression is also that sometimes you as a professional coach, might be a professional Agile coach. You might be scared of a job offer, Agile Coach project Manager but if the customer of yours, the company is early on their journey, it's okay. They don't understand all the concept, they confuse you concept. It's actually you who would help the company change the way they describe job offer in a year or two or three. It's not so bad. Not so bad to be there. I didn't say yet. I can't see any questions over here. That leads us somebody's typing.

[00:37:24.880] - Speaker 1

So if I say yeah, I was going to say someone is typing, but it might take a while.

[00:37:28.530] - Speaker 2

Are you most proud of, Scott, what are you most proud of? I believe in the context of Agile. Being an Agile coach, for me, it's.

[00:37:39.000] - Speaker 1

The light bulb moment. When you take somebody who possibly doesn't know anything about Agile, doesn't really work and are willing to give it a go. That's crucial. The intent, we're going to try it with intent. I think if you're going to do something without intention, you're never going to do it. So the ones who possibly don't understand it, but they're willing to give it a go and let's try it. And then them getting the light bulb moment and really changing, it like there's a bunch of people working with right now who didn't have a clue back in September, who are now teaching others and training others, not in day to day, but really helping each other and helping this is what we're doing. So it's the moment where I see others really growing and seeing what I seen many years ago and what I think many people who fall in love with the role of helping people when they see that and you can see that switch. I love that. It's really difficult for me to sound like what part did I play in that? Well, when I have asked my coach or ask people I'm talking to and this yeah, but you actually played quite a pivotal role in that.

[00:38:41.980] - Speaker 1

And that's something I've always struggled with saying, what role do I play in that? But I think having that Agile coach someone there to help them will make a massive significant difference. So yeah, it's definitely something I'm proud of. And it happens many times over the time. I can literally just go on holiday or shut my laptop down and everything just runs, everything fine and they don't need me anymore, is perfect. Which is not great if you're a designer or developer in the team because then you're out of as a coach. What about yourself, Pawel?

[00:39:14.260] - Speaker 2

I just noticed we have plenty of questions, so I'll be fast with my answer. I think the same. I really enjoy that moment if somebody struggles with new concept and it clicks. And these people who were against Agility now become really cool with that and became advocates of Agile ways of work in the company. But there's something else as well. My favourite Scrum value is focused. I prefer longer engagement with one single customer. We have this journey together and I have opportunity to work with people who are, for instance, engineers and they become Scrum masters, Agile coaches. And I coach them, I mentor them and I watch them grow and become fully independent Agile coaches, sometimes even certified trainers. So my job is done over here. That's satisfying. That's satisfying. But it requires few years of work with them. We need to speed up a little bit. So the next question that goes to you because I have no clue how to answer it, would be what was your toughest you faced as an Agile coach?

[00:40:32.300] - Speaker 1

I just read that one and there's millions of them, but I literally been talking about this today, so I'll give you the story. I was working with my current client actually, and they've had previous Agile coaches in and even so that the leader in that area refused to call me an Agile coach in front of anybody else. And when he introduced me didn't say I was an Agile coach because they had been tarnished by a previous person and they forced processes on them. They really just didn't just wasn't very ethical in my mind. It's so much so they use really bad language towards certain individuals and it was really tough gig when you first go in because everyone stereotypes you, you just the same as those other people who've had this before. And I had one lady literally a few days ago say that, what's your experience, Nagal? And they said it was depressing and really negative. So it's really tough when you start you've got to try and work with people who are so far removed from what we would like them to be in terms of their mindset because they've been tarnished before.

[00:41:29.740] - Speaker 1

So trying to build that rapport, to try and take them on that journey, it's extremely tough. But the first case I talked about there, these are the same people I was mentioning before who are now going off and helping others. It is possible. And these people were told they didn't have an Agile mindset and it's so ludicrous to even think that. And I think it was because of the coach and how that person interacted with the teams and the people and the leadership. So yes, my current experience, everything's always tough, everyone's different. Thank you.

[00:42:01.900] - Speaker 2

Thank you. Scott versus one more question. I can do this one. Do you have your personal growth plan as an Agile coach, I guess. But if you are employed, so you are internal Agile coach, you have your personal growth plan as everybody has. If you're independent or you're incorporated, you're in a company of Agile coaches, I think it's healthy to have one. So I personally do have my personal grow plan. It's not necessarily growing in agility. As such, if I find out that I need some skills that are actually not so not on the picture, training faculty, mentoring Agile in, but elsewhere. And it's something that actually it could be useful. In my job, I do it, I just do it. And it's either reading a book, a lot of books, actually reading blog articles of various people attending training sessions, or something that I find most important, selecting your next customer. A few years ago I joined completely different industry, oil and gas industry. That was my first gig these days in oil and gas. That was inspiring. How to use same methods and practices outside it, or finance or banking or big Pharma, that I was used to it.

[00:43:22.870] - Speaker 2

That would be my answer. Not only training sessions or books, but being self-aware of what else is interesting and you never touch it. That might be useful. One question. Does certification help you to become an Agile Coach?

[00:43:46.360] - Speaker 1

Since I become a consultant, like contractor since 2018, I only recently started getting certifications. I think the certifications are really powerful because you get in a room with people and you get asked real world questions with a really experienced trainer. Hopefully that trainer is also a coach, as in day job. They have done it, they are doing it still practicing, so they're up to date. And I think there's nothing better than learning that learning environment. But is it going to make you a seasoned Agile Coach? Probably not. It's your experience on the ground, it's your trial and error, it's your practice, it's your working with real situations that's going to really help you become what you want to be. But they are a good starting point. A lot of people knock them and say a lot of people are going around collecting them and that might be the case. But I think it's just understanding that just because they've got that certification doesn't mean they're any better than anyone else. And I've actually personally suffered that. I've had people who just got their really basic scrum master calls that knocked them back over, knocked me back over that person because they had that qualification.

[00:44:53.120] - Speaker 1

You just live and learn. So I started getting them then. But there's only so much you can do before you need to get real world experience.

[00:45:01.840] - Speaker 2

I think I have similar approach, but I'm very pragmatic. So if I need certification for something, I will do it. For instance, I wanted to become a licensed trainer. I needed to get the certificates because that was mandatory and that was the only reason why I did that earlier. Not really. If I see an interesting job offering and I really want to get that job, but the mandatory prerequisite is to become a holder of a certificate, I would give it a try, simply. But as such, again, me personally, I had little respect into certificates. Still, when you take a look at different job offers, they're asking for certificates, so it's up to you. I remember conversation I had ten years ago, all my colleagues, my peers, they used to get a certificate in proficiency in English, English language, and I never had. And the consequence was that each time I wanted to get a new job, I had an English test, English language test, and I passed it, obviously, as you can hear, I guess having certificate would simply allow me to skip this one tiny step. But I thought the amount of work preparation money that I had to pay for the certificate was not worth it these days.

[00:46:31.020] - Speaker 2

Two more questions before we close. Let me take a look at the board. On the board, who inspire you as an Agile coach in your life? Do you have somebody who coach you or inspire you? Scott I think this one goes possible to you.

[00:46:47.320] - Speaker 1

There's a lot of people, there's a lot of books. Kim Scott, who wrote Radical Candour. Nothing to do, really, with Agile. She worked at Google and all sorts of things. There's a lot of management and people who in business, a lot of names, too many to really name him Scott. If you haven't read Radical Candour, I can't pronounce the lady saying Tasha Urick, who wrote a book called Insight. It's all about personal development. So I think that's what really you need to really master before you can start helping others is to work on yourself. And that's probably something I missed out on my journey, is that personal development is a massive part of what I did to get where I am. Everybody inspires me day to day. You inspire me when I work with you and when we've done work together. Tony, who I work with, Ae, inspires me literally every time I speak to them, voice everybody we work with, the people who have no idea barge out inspire me because they see so much in what they do in their lives. It just inspires me to really want to do better and help more people and deliver more value using the values and the principles of what we do.

[00:47:52.680] - Speaker 1

It's a corny answer, but it's true.

[00:47:55.320] - Speaker 2

I think my answer would be really similar. And that leads us to the last question I can see in the chat window. Interesting one. What is your recommendation for aspiring Agile coach who is new in the field? Where would you want them to start from? I can give you my answer, and that would be reading books is awesome. If you already practice something, attending a training. My first meeting with Agile, with Scrum was attending a training. And I was as smart after training as it was before it. I think the best what you can do is on video training, find a company who already does it, who already is Agile, who already does Scrum and work with them. For them, maybe not as a Scrum Master, obviously if you have no skills, maybe as an engineer. So experience Agile first and now switch your path from engineering, for instance, you do right now into Agile coaching. That is, I think, something that is the most effective. I saw few people reaching a few who started with a pure theoretical theory, attending a lot of training sessions and then becoming Scrum Masters. But these were people, for instance, working for my company.

[00:49:15.190] - Speaker 2

So it was a plenty of Agile anyway in the company. Rare examples, I'd say. What would you say, Scott?

[00:49:21.290] - Speaker 1

I answered the question in the chat slightly different, a total different route to you, which is why it's quite good for having us on here because my thoughts are the skills and the knowledge can come over time. You're going to get that with experience and yes, by all means, please go and learn it. If you want to do a certification, great. Go and shadow somebody, go and talk to people, go and attend meetups. There's plenty of free information out there. You don't even need to pay for a course. There's loads of free information. But I think the thing that gets for me that makes a real difference is the mindset and the people skills and the ability to work with people and understand people. And people always say you shouldn't coach people, but actually those are the ones that people are real in organizations, they call them resources in some places. It's not like people with real dreams, hopes and aspirations. And if you've got to work with these and sometimes you got to influence them and sometimes you got to guide them and sometimes you might have to put your hat on and mentor them and train them and tell them you've got to have them on site.

[00:50:18.990] - Speaker 1

So for me, if you haven't got rapport, if you haven't got that ability to build rapport, and you haven't got the ability to build relationships with individuals and teams and leadership, then you're going to struggle. No matter how good you are at Scrum or Kanban or how fantastic you are at naming all the twelve principles you need that. And I don't like calling them softer skills because I think they're not soft, they're really powerful, they're really strong. And I think that for me is, like I said, the personal development stuff, really understanding insights on yourself and others, we're really powerful in your day job, the skills and the knowledge, that can come different. Take on it anyway.

[00:51:03.540] - Speaker 2

Well, nice shot. Thank you very much, Scott. I think people would be interested in what's next. And here we go. Scott and I are meeting again for another Agile canta. June 15, same time. 06:00 in the UK. 07:00, central European summertime. The topic is how to encourage teams to be vulnerable. Scott, would you like to say a few more words about it?

[00:51:37.260] - Speaker 1

So this is going to be totally different. So these webinars aren't really interactive. Yes, you can use the chat, you can have some Q and A, but it's really just myself and Pawel. But this we want to change it. We're going to have a zoom link, we're going to make it really interactive. We're going to be using breakout rooms and we're going to get you a chance to actually experience one of my favourite techniques and one of my favourite things I use with teams. I know there's people in the chat tonight that have been through this with me and it's about getting people to talk about their values and principles and their behaviours as a team and how to really it's really good for forming teams, but also really good to reset, especially if you've got new people joining. It's about creating that artifact that we can use to hold each other accountable and really try and grow the team. And people will be vulnerable in there. So what we're going to do, we're going to show you through the exercise really quickly. We're going to take you through the exercise. You're going to get part of that.

[00:52:25.060] - Speaker 1

You actually feel it in real time and as if it's your team, your team you're doing it with. And then you'll get given the template to use, mural template. You can download it if you want or send you a link to it and whatnot you can copy it and hopefully take into your own organization and work with teams on that if you wanted to. It's just a little bit different to a webinar. It's really interactive. So tell your friends, bring people along, should be good.

[00:52:49.560] - Speaker 2

Thank you. Sounds exciting. Thank you very much, Scott. Thank you everybody, for your awesome questions and what today. See you next time. Have a good one. Bye.

Meet the speakers

Pawel Felinski

Paweł is a management consultant working in the fields of strategy execution and new product development. Recently, he has been involved in business transformations with Agile in the energy industry. Paweł brings a pragmatic and method-agnostic approach to problem-solving.

Scott Oliver

Scott is an Enterprise Agile coach and consultant with 10 years of experience. He is passionated about improving collaboration and interactivity between teams. Scott builds valuable and trusting customer relationships by delivering outcomes specific to their needs.

Past webinars

December 20, 2023

How to Start with Design Sprint

Nearly a decade ago, Design Sprint came to the rescue. It's a framework built on top of Design Thinking, which prescribes clear roles, requirements, and tasks that help bring Design Thinking to life.
October 25, 2023

What's Possible with Kanban

Discover the power of the Kanban method, including enhanced workflow visibility, faster delivery and customer satisfaction it can bring to your team and organisation.
September 20, 2023

How to Become an Enterprise Agile Coach

Join Paweł Feliński and Pete Schibli, seasoned Agile experts, as they demystify the role of Enterprise Agile Coaches, drawing from their extensive experience in various industries. Gain insider insights from interviews with renowned Agile coaches and learn the unique capabilities required for success at the enterprise level. Whether you're aspiring to become an Enterprise Agile Coach or seeking to advance your career in this field, Paweł and Pete will provide you with a roadmap to success.
August 23, 2023

How to use the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel

Discover and leverage the power of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel
June 28, 2023

How to Reinvent your Career - The Transformative Journey to Become Project Manager

Delve the captivating story of Dmitrii, who charted a unique path from Lean Startup to Agile project management. We promise this webinar to be an enlightening exploration of personal growth and professional evolution.
April 19, 2023

Small steps management

Demystify systems thinking and draw useful conclusions from the peculiar domain of knowledge. Learn how to combine the popular OKR goal-setting system with a simple yet powerful visualisation technique to help achieve commitments step-by-step.
March 15, 2023

What to do to manage multiple stakeholders

Get to know techniques for discovering and prioritising the expectations of all your stakeholders together.
February 15, 2023

Stakeholder management in practice

Stakeholders management in practice
January 18, 2023

A better way to transform your business

Have you noticed that digital transformations, agile transformations, or any other business transformation often fail, despite initial successes? Why is it so? Is there any better way to manage organisational changes? During the webinar, we will share our answers to these questions and an approach that gives transformations a better success ratio.
November 2, 2022

Dealing with dependencies

Dependencies are one of the main causes of organisational overload. How can we deal with them? What practices can we use to manage and minimise dependencies effectively? We answer these questions in this Agile Encounter Webinar. Watch and find solutions for your organisation, team or yourself.

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