Agile Coaches, Might WE Be the Problem?

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Agile Coaches, Might WE Be the Problem?

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I ran across a post on LinkedIn by Huy Nguyen. I think I’ve met him briefly at an agile coaching retreat or event, and he struck me with his thoughtfulness.

The post was titled an Agile Coaching Thought of the Day where he posited the following question:

Is there a Western/Colonial bias to the Spiral/Laloux developmental models?

In and of itself, a thoughtful question.

Here’s a large part of his post—

In Agile settings, I question the value the use of these “developmental” models. Teal is not a business objective. It’s not a requirement for a successful business, yet we often put a bias toward it – as if coaches have an agenda to push clients into. Agile falls prey to the same thinking. IMO this is problematic.

We ignore the trauma we might inflict when pushing cultures who value behaviors we don’t agree with. “Coach them where they’re at” we say, but do we really? Many will blame leaders for their mindset when it could be our arrogance and fail to grasp why they resist.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at every set of top problems from any State of Agile survey and the problems are perennial and consistent. Maybe the problem is us and we need to change how we approach our clients.

Unless we honor our clients as they are and accept them as such, we will struggle to create change – especially when it’s the type of change they’re not asking for.

I highlighted the part that struck me the most. It resonated deeply not only with my personal coaching journey but with the observations I’ve made of other coaches and coaching firms in my travels over the past two decades.

Above all else, the post inspired me to reflect on my own coaching journey and I’d invite anyone reading this to do the same.

  • How have you historically approached your clients?

  • Have you honored them and met them where they were?

  • Have you blamed them or met them with anything but respect and curiosity?

  • How have you guided them toward your or their agendas?

And, before you answer each question, dig deep within yourself and be honest.

Maybe you’ve been a part of the problem. I know that, on occasion, I have. And if you discover this upon reflection, perhaps seek to make some changes in your coaching. Just perhaps…

Stay agile my friends,



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