Apr 4th, 2020

What Is an Agile Coach? A Valuable Role for Organizational Change

Sumeet Madan
Sumeet Madan

With a remarkable 18-year tenure in software engineering, agile training, coaching, and consulting,... Read more

What Certified Agile Coach Means?

We have come across many articles and job postings for Agile Coaches in the past, and it seems everyone is looking for a “Certified” Agile Coach. It's important to understand what a “Certified” Agile Coach means since there are many certification bodies that claim one way or another to provide the same, so I am trying to highlight what basically it means when someone claims to provide Certified Agile Coach Certification Training.

The agile coach is made up of two words, agile and coach, so basically, the organization is asking for someone who has in-depth knowledge about lean-agile practices but also knows how to teach, coach, and mentor teams and individuals. It is like any sports coach where coaches are not just experts but know how to coach. Someone can be a good footballer but may not be a good coach, as coaching requires little more than just playing football.

Similarly, we are talking about Agile Coach, so if you are

  • Is a person who serves the Agile teams as a catalyst to bring the best out of them by enabling agile thinking and practices.
  • Agile Coach fosters the culture of agility by teaching, facilitating, mentoring, and coaching the teams. Agile Coaching is in itself a very vast knowledge area.
  • Agile Coach is a Change agent who facilitates change in the Organization by focusing at all levels and enabling them to deal with their challenges.
At the Agile Coaching step, the coach has an expert-level understanding of current lean-agile practices, is significantly skilled in team facilitation, and has developed some professional coaching and mentoring skills. Coaches with these skills are likely operating at a scope of several teams or a program, starting new teams, mentoring others, or spending significant time working with managers and engaging with impediments outside the direct control of teams.

A good Certified Agile Coach Program equips the person or a learner with coaching knowledge and the tools & techniques that a person can use during their coaching assignments with their clients.

Every person in his/her life unknowingly plays some stances of a coach (teaching, facilitation, mentoring, and coaching), sometimes they are effective and create an impact, but sometimes they don’t because of the lack of knowledge on how to play that stance. Certification programs help bring this knowledge of the concept, tools, and techniques for them to play those stances effectively in order to create an impact with agile teams.

It’s always the case that one should have complete knowledge of the area they are playing in. The market realizes the value and the need for coaching skills; hence there is a growing demand for Agile Coaches to act as a catalyst, bringing agile awareness about their values and principles, developing skills, and bringing a sense of ownership.

What Benefits Agile Coaching Brings

The certification focuses primarily on the mindset, roles, and responsibilities of an Agile Coach. After finishing the certification, the learner will be able to differentiate between and among mentoring, facilitating, professional coaching, and teaching, and will also gain the skills needed to create a safe environment for meaningful collaboration and healthy conflict resolution within an agile team.

This certification introduces participants to foundational team coaching skills and team development concepts for starting and growing teams while focusing on teams and organizations as human systems. A key part of this certification focuses on developing an understanding of the professional coaching skillset and the value of honing these skills to serve individuals on an agile team. Agile Coach is a Change agent who facilitates change in the Organization by focusing at all levels and enabling them to deal with their challenges.

Who Issues the Certificate?

There are institutes inculcating coaching not only in the field of executives and sports but also in Agile. With the adoption in almost every field nowadays, these institutes have come up with various programs that enable people in their Agile Coaching journey.

A few of the popularly known institutes in this of professional coaching:

1. International Coaching Federation (ICF): It is a generic coaching certification body that doesn’t provide anything related to agile but is still the most valuable coaching body.

2. Scrum Alliance: This is purely based on experience plus ICF, and Co-Active is the recommended path Co-Active Coaching Institute – This is similar to ICF ORSC - ORS is an integrated and robust coaching model based on RSI (Relationship Systems Intelligence).

3. ICAgile: Agile Coaching Track and Enterprise Coaching track: International Consortium of Agile (ICAgile) worldwide recognition for their training tracks related to Agile is the only institute that provides the Agile Coaching certificate through their ICP-ACC (ICAgile Certified Professional –Agile Certified Coach) program. ICAgile also provides a variety of certifications that are becoming increasingly popular in the Agile Space.

The ICP-ACC is one of two knowledge-based certifications on the Agile Coaching track. The certification focuses primarily on the mindset, roles, and responsibilities of an Agile Coach. After finishing the certification, the learner will be able to differentiate between and among mentoring, facilitating, professional coaching, and teaching, and will also gain the skills needed to create a safe environment for meaningful collaboration and healthy conflict resolution within an agile team.

What we cover under the ICAgile – Agile Coach Program

  • The Agile Coaching Mindset– This will help understand who is an Agile Coach and Coaching, achieving essential mindset shift, self-awareness, and management as a coach and the coaching stances.
  • Foundational Professional Coaching Skills –This will bring an understanding of emotional intelligence, listening, powerful questioning, and a feedback system.
  • Coaching Conversations –This will help practice the coaching conversation to identify the issue, exploration, and active commitment.
  • Key mentoring skills –This covers concepts like advice while Maintaining Presence, articulate Expertise, and mentee at Free Choice.
  • Mentoring Agile Role Transitions – This will help understand the contrast between Mentoring with Coaching, understand the Individual Change Cycle, key Agile Role Transitions, and handling Resistance from Individuals.
  • Key Teaching Skills -This will cover the multiple Content Delivery Mechanisms and environment for Stickiness and also cover the agile mindset shifts and Frameworks.
  • Foundational Team Coaching –This will help understand the systems View, observation, and how to articulate what's happening.
  • Describing Team Development –This will help understand the model of team development and use it in service of a team's development, helping a team detect its own stage of development.
  • Coaching the Journey Toward High Performance – This will cover defining and identifying high performance; team development is a journey, not a destination which means it’s all about continuous improvement, assessing the team's health, and adapting your style based on team maturity.
  • Handling Conflict and Dysfunction within the Team –This will help understand the surfacing and working with conflict, build Self-Awareness/Self-Management capacity in the team, and create awareness that we are dealing with human systems.
  • Handling Organizational Impediments –This covers how to identify and capture impediments and how to engage the leadership.
  • Coaching Alliances and Contracts - This covers how to define the agile coaching "Contract" and design a coaching alliance.

Sumeet Madan

With a remarkable 18-year tenure in software engineering, agile training, coaching, and consulting, Sumeet's expertise is unparalleled. As a certified Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) from Scrum.org and a distinguished SAFe® Practice Consultant (SPC), Sumeet brings a wealth of knowledge and skill to every project, making a lasting impact on organizations seeking to embrace Agile methodologies.

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