“The empty vessel makes the loudest sound”
– William Shakespeare
If you were to describe what an Agile Coach means to an organization in a single word, what would that word be? Not what an Agile Coach “is” or “does” but what an Agile coach “enables” or “seeds” for the organization.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing and working with some wonderful Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. Each of them held a common mindset rooted in the Agile Manifesto. And like wine, each had their own unique aromas and accents defining who they are and what they do as a coach. Recently, an Agile Coach asked me for feedback on her role as a coach. I thought about her and what she brought everyday to the organization. Here’s what I observed:
- ‘Unconventional’ – freely mixing and matching ideas from different worlds and disciplines to create fresh approaches to standard work
- ‘Perceptive’ – sensitive and attuned to people and situations
- ‘In-the-moment’ – never puts off to tomorrow what could be done today
This defined who she was and what she did for the organization. But what happens when she leaves? How will the organization have changed? Will it be better than when she arrived?
Now, let’s go beyond the coach-as-a-person to look at the coach-as-a-vessel for organizational change. Here’s a list of words that come to mind for me. Each word is imbued and shaped by the legacy of a specific coach:
- ‘Transparency’ – to shine a bright light on hidden problems and inconvenient truths
- ‘Courage’ – to say what others fear to say and to mirror reality without distortion
- ‘Patience’ – to allow the Satir curve to runs its course and not be willing to rob people of their struggle
- ‘Experimentation’ – to constantly inspect, adapt, rinse and repeat
- ‘Possibility’ – of what the futures could look like
When you think of Agile Coaches you respect and admire, what words come to mind for you?