Coaching, self-organization, leadership, and business agility are the areas where I expect breakthrough innovations for agile to take place in 2018. In this first article in the series “Agile in 2018” I explore the state of practice of agile coaching and discuss what will agile bring us in 2018.
The InfoQ Culture and Methods editorial team, of which I’m a member, has published their trends report – January 2018. I’m quoting from this yearly agile culture and methods lookout and added my personal view below.
To support organisational change in the new ways of working, practices for coaching and mentoring have become important. Unfortunately, there is a lot of snake oil – the quality of the coaches and coaching varies a lot. The skills of this role will come under increasing pressure and good coaching will be a competitive advantage.
It may not be nice to say, but sometimes organizations get the coaches they deserve. Which is not a good thing. Organizations that don’t have a profound experience with coaching have difficulties selecting coaches that can bring the organization to a higher level. They often have wrong expectations of what coaches can do.
Coaches should help organizations to establish a suitable approach to coaching, one that fits with the organization and supports improvement in the organization. I’m hoping that in 2018 more coaches will have a discussion about this instead of offering a “standard” training and coaching plan.
One of the reasons many agile transformations fail is that organizations try to plan all coaching steps upfront and then expect that executing the plan will make them agile. That doesn’t sound agile to me. Planning is helpful, but your plans will change along the way as you are coaching. Embrace that change, adapt your plan.
I don’t think certification of coaches is a solution to solve the agile coaching problems. Taking an agile approach to coaching by coaching in small steps and reflecting frequently is what I recommend, which I already described in 2013 in Short-cycled Improvement. The results of agile coaching should be inspected and adapted frequently, just as any other agile practice. Coaches, eat your own dogfood!
For years I’m hoping for just-in-time coaching to take off, where coaches intervene using a pull-based approach with teams and organizations to serve their needs with focused workshops, feedback, and on-the-job suggestions for improvement. Agendashift and Kanban come to mind as pull-based approaches for doing this. I do this with my clients and it works, but I rarely see others do it; full-time on-site coaches who lead the transformation still seems to be the norm. I can only assume that for most organizations just-in-time coaching is still too radical.
Agile in 2018
Yogi Berra stated that “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”. Coaching, self-organization, leadership, and business agility are the areas where I will focus on in 2018 as this is where I expect breakthrough innovations for agile to take place.
What are your expectations for agile coaching in 2018?