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Why this matters:

To effectively train and mentor others, agile coaches need to have a deep understanding of agile methodologies. Ideal candidates will have experience coaching similar organizations in agile frameworks or, at minimum, leading agile teams. An educational or practical background relevant to your industry will ensure a good understanding of your organization’s processes and the technical knowledge to work with your staff.

What to listen for:

  • Experience working with agile frameworks and tools
  • Agile coach certification or equivalent practical experience
  • An excellent understanding of your industry, market, and customer base

Why this matters:

There are currently over 50 different agile methodologies; each one developed to serve the specific needs of different industries. Ideal candidates should have a deep knowledge of Scrum and Kanban, the two most common agile frameworks, plus any other agile approaches and tools applicable to the industry they will be working in.

What to listen for:

  • Practical experience working different agile frameworks
  • Familiarity with industry-specific agile frameworks
  • Theoretical understanding of agile values

Why this matters:

Agile coaches should have in-depth knowledge of the strengths and weak points of different agile frameworks applicable to their industry. They should also exercise sound judgment on which framework will work best for a given project. Their decision should factor in the scope and complexity of a project, the time and resources available, organizational goals, and the composition of their team.

What to listen for:

  • Track record of leading teams under agile approaches specific to your industry
  • Knowledge of key industry trends, terms, and processes
  • Track record of success identifying problems and implementing solutions for them

 

Why this matters:

Agile coaches should have experience analyzing systems and operating processes, recognizing areas of improvement, and using their findings to recommend and implement appropriate solutions in line with organizational goals and customer needs. This requires a combination of technical and analytical skills and leadership skills to see those strategies through to implementation.

What to listen for:

  • Ability to formulate, communicate, and execute actionable strategies
  • An innovative mindset and the ability to solve problems creatively
  • Ability to identify new opportunities and optimize organizational processes

Why this matters:

Successful agile coaches should act as agents of change within organizations. They should carefully assess current processes and resources to develop a strategy customized to the organization’s unique needs. Developing effective training plans, acting as an SME and mentor, and identifying any deficiencies early in the implementation process are all vital for a seamless transition and long-term success.

What to listen for:

  • An analytical and process-driven approach
  • Experience training and mentoring cross-functional teams in agile frameworks
  • The ability to generate both short-term and long-term results

Why this matters:

Scaling agile frameworks is a complex and challenging process. It requires the integration of agile methodologies into an organization’s process and a shift toward a culture centered around collaboration, group accomplishments, flexibility, communication, and innovation. Successful agile coaches should implement changes sustainably and incrementally to allow people to adapt and to avoid large disruptions to operations.

What to listen for:

  • Track record of success leading bottom-up transformations
  • Good judgment on which areas of an organization will benefit the most from agile approaches
  • Ability to successfully integrate agile teams with others that do not operate as agile

Why this matters:

Empathy and a servant style of leadership are key qualities of successful agile coaches. Ideal candidates should consider the unique composition and challenges of the organizations and teams they are working with and adapt their implementation process accordingly. They should demonstrate experience identifying breaks in communication, solving conflicts, and helping teams reach a full understanding of agile approaches.

What to listen for:

  • A servant leadership style that prioritizes the greater good of an organization
  • Ability to mentor cross-functional teams in the adoption of agile approaches
  • Effective listening, negotiation, and mediation skills

 

Why this matters:

Successful agile coaches must be able to persuade management and stakeholders with little knowledge of agile approach specifics into adopting them by effectively communicating their benefits and returns on investments. They should excel at breaking down complex and highly technical information into understandable and straightforward terms.

 

What to listen for:

  • Ability to communicate clearly and effectively
  • Excellent presentation and public speaking skills
  • Track record of success obtaining buy-ins from stakeholders

Why this matters:

Agile coaches must have the leadership skills to drive big changes in an organization’s culture and operations. This requires managing cross-functional teams, influencing management and stakeholders, strong communication and relationship-building skills, negotiating, and coordinating action with other leaders in the organization.

What to listen for:

  • A bold attitude with a good tolerance for risk
  • A track record of overcoming organizational hurdles to achieve goals
  • Ability to leverage an organization’s people and resources to drive change
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