An Agile Coaching Conversation

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An Agile Coaching Conversation

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I recently saw a post on LinkedIn from Oluf Nissen that made me pause and reflect. I captured a link to it and have revisited it every few days to check in on the ongoing comments. 

Sometimes the stream of comments is the most valuable part of the “conversation.” Lyssa Adkins, Damon Poole, and Michael Spayd weighed in with comments.

Here’s the original post:

I came across an old video with Lyssa Adkins a few days ago, where I noticed and was reminded of the idea that professional coaching is probably mostly a “spice” for the work of agile coaches. It’s a surprising reminder, given the amount of posts here on LinkedIn that encourage us to deepen our coaching skills and almost make it sound like you can’t help people if you don’t have incredible depth in coaching. I don’t know what to make of that yet.

Michael Spayd weighed in with this comment:

Interesting thread Oluf! My reflection is that, while professional coaching is only one of a number of competencies needed, the most critical issue is the “coaching stance” you “come from” in choosing which competency to use, moment to moment. If your stance is about “fixing defective teams” you may be harming more than not. Professional coach training is one of the best ways I’ve seen to develop a mature coaching stance, and Lyssa and I put lots of our effort on teaching and developing one’s stance.

Thanks for introducing this thread!

And Lyssa responded briefly with this:

Don’t go too far with that comment, everyone. In no way am I saying professional coaching skills are not important for agile coaching.

And this follow-up

My comment was more along the lines that you posed, Deborah Preuss, PCC, CPCC Spices are very powerful! And, they are not the main meal. For us as agile coaches, our main meal is helping people use agile well. To do so often requires the potent spice of professional coaching.

When writing my Extraordinarily Badass Agile Coaching book, one of the greater challenges was getting the messaging and balance “right” between professional coaching and the other stances in the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel.

Before beginning to write, my perception of the community was that we had generally skewed too strongly towards applying or immersion into the professional coaching stance—both as referenced in the Agile Coaching Competency Framework and the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel.

I witnessed this imbalance in the Scrum Alliance CTC and CEC certification processes and confirmed it in many discussions with colleagues. It led to my writing the EBAC book in the first place. But I worry that I might have reacted too strongly toward the other stances and not emphasized the impact and importance of the professional coaching stance.

In writing this post, I want to give that stance its due. And I love what Michael had to say, so much so that I want to repeat it—

My reflection is that, while professional coaching is only one of several competencies needed, the most critical issue is the “coaching stance” you “come from” in choosing which competency to use, moment to moment.

I think he hit on a KEY aspect of agile coaching. It’s something that I think many of us miss. In the book, I reference it in several ways, such as—

ALL in service to your client, and as Lyssa so elegant reminded me,

As agile coaches, our main meal is helping people use agile well.

Helping them find agile, their agile mindset, and use it well. That is well said and something for all agile coaches to put top-of-mind.

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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