My Approach to Starting an Agile Coaching Engagement

It’s like dating.

(Oh no. Seriously? THIS is how you’re starting a post about starting a relationship between an Agile Coach and her client?)

Ahem. It’s like dating. Maybe we have a mutual friend who invited both of us out to a bar to a meeting, the group got talking, the beer coffee or water got flowing, you piped up with what you have going on, I found your fledgling side hustle intriguing Scrum team composition stupid, and shared aloud, “Hey, I know the band at a chill spot a couple blocks away… y’wanna get outta here?” “Let’s continue this offline.”

(You know the band? THAT’s the line you’re showcasing? Dude, you are OUT of practice. It’s like you’ve been married for a few years…)

Maybe, instead, somebody introduced us to each other somebody introduced us to each other.

Maybe, instead instead, we were set up on a blind date I was assigned to your part of the org.

Maybe, instead instead instead, you liked my playing at my emo-bebop fusion band’s “My Fragile Journey” album debut my style at my “My Agile Journey” talk at our corporate conference debut, so you reached out.

(Now you’re IN a band? Fine. But my man… emo-bebop fusion? Aim higher in life / your delusions of being single…)

After a few dates meetings, it might feel right for a next step: go steady set up weekly or biweekly 1-1s.

By this point, we’ve gotten to know about each other, set up some rapport, maybe even shared harrowing tales about death-defying acts we pulled off in college parenting. We both have a feeling this is going to be a regular thing. So I take things to the next level by asking the following two questions.

How would you best use an Agile Coach in your corner?
How would you best use an Agile Coach in your back pocket?

In Your Corner

Imagine a scene where you’re boxing. You thus have people in your corner. Who do you want in that corner?

Do you want someone who is on your side? Cheering you on? Someone who is looking out for you? Available and present when it’s time to talk next steps? I relate all this to a person you can trust, just when you need it.

In Your Back Pocket

Imagine a scene where you’re leading a high-stakes merger or acquisition. You thus have some research and tactics in your back pocket. What do you want in that back pocket?

Do you want someone whose knowledge you can rely on? Skilled enough to move you forward? Someone with the experience to recommend or coach you through next steps? I relate all this to an advisor, just when you need it.

Trusted Advisor

Being an advisor takes “hard skills”: knowing behaviours & practices & the mindset associated w/ Agility & business & the domain, and then having a sense of how to act as the context evolves.

Being trusted takes “soft skills”: knowing the person & team & history & direction enough to make a meaningful connection, and then earning a place in someone’s inner circle.

When I ask my 2 questions, I (virtually) always get thoughtful responses. The person slowly gazes at a corner of their room, pauses, then they share something we can work with.

This is what I’m going for. The questions are a prompt for how to further our relationship, not necessarily one about setting expectations.

They’ve worked well for me thus far.

Maybe you can steal ’em & tweak ’em for your benefit.

(Ran out of steam on the dating analogies?)

‘Cause that’s what we’re doing after all, right? We’re born. We know ourselves, then forget ourselves, then rediscover ourselves. We forge & end & maintain relationships. We act in the world, hopefully making an impact to reduce suffering and improve it to the degree we can and to the degree it’s desired. Then we die.

(Holy cow. Where did THAT come from?)

So we might as well positively impact the world when Agile Coaching, and it starts by growing mutually beneficial relationships.

(Oh. It’s like dating. Got it.)

It’s like dating.