I’ve previously written an article for InfoQ about how agile coaches act when working with teams. For this particular entry, I want to investigate what jobs or roles you might consider trying to either focus on part-time or try full-time to develop the habits and skills necessary to be an even more effective agile coach.

At the XP2008 conference I spoke with both Liz Sedley and Rachel Davies, two other agile coaches, who ran a workshop about agile coaching. We talked about the different skills an agile coach might need and some of the duties they might perform. We talked about overlaps with other jobs and concluded that an agile coach may do some training, yet only being a trainer doesn’t make you an agile coach (there’s more to it). Below is a diagram that hopefully makes it clear some of the responsibilities that overlap with a number of other roles.

Agile Coach Development Model

As you can see in the diagram above, an agile coach may do many of the things you see full time facilitators, full time trainers, and full time coaches do. Yet doing each of these roles by themselves without the real experience garnered from agile projects does not make them an agile coach.

Using this as a model for career development

Even though I just put this diagram together to help others visualise this model, this is exactly what I’ve been using to further improve my skills as an agile coach. More recently, I’ve been in the role of a full time coach and trainer both internally and externally, and especially fortunate to work closely with other full time trainers to benefit from their experience. That experience has given me a better understanding of how people learn and a broader set of techniques to draw upon when helping others understand the concepts and principles.

Earlier to that, my focus had been towards better facilitation practice, reading books about good facilitation skills, and eagerly applying this during the projects that I’ve worked on. This has been particularly useful in executing the Retrospective practice. Beyond that, I’ve been lucky enough to work on many different agile projects in a development role, benefiting from others’ experiences through observation.

Just an agile coach role

I’d be keen to hear what other full time or part time roles other agile coaches have attempted for short amounts of time in order to develop the skills that will make them a better agile coach. Please leave a comment if you have a suggestion.