10 myths of an Agile Coach

10 myths of an Agile Coach

Vivek Jayaraman
29th Jan, 2022

Top 10 Myths of Agile Coaches in the Industry

What you learn and whom you learn from make a great deal of difference in learning things the right way. The majority of the time, people trust people and anything they tell them becomes a fact. Unless proven, everything is folklore and just a blind belief. A myth is nothing but a false belief. There are myths everywhere and in everything. Are there myths in Agile Coaching too? Oh, yes, it is. Let's discuss the top 10 myths of Agile coaches in the industry.


1. Agile Coach is a framework expert:

I have been asked the same question over and over again by so many participants in my class. What framework can help me become an Agile Coach? Frameworks don't create Agile Coach but understanding the need for change and helping them change does. An Agile Coach is a change agent and a facilitator. They help organizations with the change they aspire for and coach them for it.


An Agile Coach should have an understanding of multiple frameworks but having preference over certain frameworks makes them a framework consultant than a coach. A coach enables people to create their own processes to solve their own problems. Agile Coach is not a framework expert nor a representative for any framework. Any preference over a specific framework will create a bias in the Coach’s mind and as a Coach, one should not have a bias toward any framework.

Reality: Agile Coach identifies and showcases the need for change in the Organization and brings visibility.


2. Agile Coach is a problem solver or a solution provider

The expectation in the industry for a coach is to either solve the Organization's problem or provide a solution for it. One main reason why business and management think of this role as a problem solver is that this is one of the highest-paid roles. Coaching is developmental facilitation where the coach enables people to solve their own problems and achieve their own goals. A coach is supposed to reduce dependency and not create one.

Reality: Agile Coach enables people to solve their own problems.


3. Agile Coach focuses more on Agile anti-patterns

One of the duties of a coach is to observe and provide feedback. The observation includes identifying patterns, behaviors, processes, policies, etc... that hinder agility. As a Coach, it's important to focus on the outcomes, how to get there, and what is stopping us. The focus should be on what to do rather than what not to do. An Agile Coach should focus on observing and changing patterns rather than wasting time and energy on anti-patterns.

Reality: Agile Coach brings awareness about anti-patterns.


4.  An Agile Coach is an Authoritative person

A coach is a facilitator and facilitators don't have authority. People who have authority tend to push their point of view into others. A Coach is supposed to get the perspectives and opinions of people rather than push them. Authority stops the coach from developmental facilitation thus hindering the coaching. Agile Coaches should be approachable to people so that they can share their problems and goals with the coach. People refrain from approaching people with authority and the purpose of coaching people goes for a toss.

Reality: The first thing an Agile Coach loses is authority.


5. Agile Coach is responsible for the change

Agile Coach is responsible for helping the organization to adopt the change and adapt to it. But the Coach is not responsible for bringing the change all by him/herself. The Coach is a change agent and change agents facilitate change and the responsible person is the one who needs the change.

Reality: Agile Coach drives the change


6. Agile Coach should be a Domain Expert

An Agile Coach need not be a Domain Expert at all. A Coach from different domain background can coach an Organization which is totally in a different domain. The focus of a coach is not on the Domain but on the actual change vision of the Organization. An Agile Coach could be a domain expert, but it is not a must.

Reality: The Product Owner is the domain expert; the Agile Coach is not.


7. Agile Coach should be a Technical Expert

Having technical expertise is not necessary for an Agile Coach. Instead, the Agile Coach can learn about engineering practices and how it can benefit the team in releasing products much earlier with more quality. The coach once knows the benefit of having such practices and how they can bring more value and can help the team with implementing Agile practices.

Reality: The development team is the technical experts; the Agile Coach is not.


8. Agile Coach is responsible for Delivery    

Why would a Coach be responsible for delivery? People who are working on developing the product are responsible for delivering it. The Coach is not responsible for delivering the product. The coach is responsible for enabling the team in delivering the product but not directly responsible for the delivery as such.

Reality: The Product Owner and Development Team is responsible for delivery; the Agile Coach is not.


9. Agile Coach is next level to Scrum Master

It’s a widespread misunderstanding that Agile Coach is next level to Scrum Master. If we properly understand Scrum, the Scrum Master not just helps the team but also the Product Owner (business) and the entire Organization as a System.

Reality: Scrum Master is an Agile Coach when the initial shift of focus from Team and Product Owner goes toward System and Practices.


10. Agile Coach manages dependencies

Dependencies should be managed by people who have them. Agile Coach can help in bringing up the visibility on the dependencies so that the person or the team who has it can go ahead and resolve those dependencies.

Reality: The person or team who has dependencies should manage or resolve them.


These are some of the myths about Agile Coaches that exist in the industry. Let's learn the roles and responsibilities of an Agile Coach correctly so that we can eliminate these myths. For more details, check out our Certified Agile Coach workshop and what participants had to say about it.

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