Measuring the Effectiveness of Agile Coaching and Coaches

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Measuring the Effectiveness of Agile Coaching and Coaches

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I finished my agile coaching book in January and I’ve been thinking about aspects that I may not have adequately covered in it. Measuring agile coaches/coaching and the impact rose to the top of my mind. And as I considered my writing history in this space, it dawned on me that I had never tackled it directly and I began to wonder why?

I think it’s because I don’t like or agree or resonate with the idea of discretely measuring agile coach or coaching performance. Why? No, it’s not because I’m afraid to be measured or held accountable in some way. Mostly, it’s because I don’t think it’s very relevant.

The very nature of agile coaching is helping others to experiment, learn and adapt, change, and improve their results. It’s not about measuring the coach. It’s about the performance of who they are coaching that truly counts. That is measuring the individuals, leaders, teams, or organizations that are being coached.

For example, if I’m coaching a Product Team (Chief Product Owner, Product Managers, and Product Owners) in an agile instance do they…

  • Improve the ROI driven across products?

  • Connect more to their clients? Envisioning better?

  • Work more cohesively as a team and are better aligned (horizontally & vertically) across other functions?

  • Are they learning more effectively as a community of practice?

  • Are the leaders operating more as Catalyst leaders? (See Bill Joiner’s work on Leadership Agility)

If these and many other measures are trending positively and improving, then I might be a strong part of that improvement. But while I, as the coach, am part of the system, it’s the system that improves and it’s the system that should be measured.

But I do have a few thoughts on effective measures of the coach that might be separate from the outcomes they are contributing (or not contributing) to.

Client Feedback

You’ll see it mentioned in a few of the articles below that the client satisfaction with the coach can and should be measured. That is, via some sort of happiness or NPS score across the “clients” you are coaching. Determining whether they are seeing value in the coaching services you provide.

Coach Modeling

Another area that I’m particularly interested in is whether agile coaches take responsibility for their own self-management (self-awareness, curiosity, continuous growth & learning, and giving back as a coach/mentor to others). You could consider this, are we “walking our talk” metric.

Coach Decoupling

In a simple sense, are you coaching to put yourself out of a job? Teaching folks to fish, if you will. Again, I might measure this as a client confidence factor in whether they feel that they can step in and operate without you.

Measuring relative to what?

Another thing that is often overlooked is establishing a performance baseline of some sort to measure your and your client’s improvement. So, the first thing you should measure is the baseline against which you’re going to be comparing yourself against.

Now onto some great thoughts around this wonderfully rich and diverse area of discussion & exploration…

Can we decently measure the value of agile coaching?, Pierre Neis, (2021).

https://pierreneis.medium.com/can-we-decently-measure-the-value-of-agile-coaching-107ab47e921b

I like the fact that Pierre brought up ADKAR in this article. I think the model could be quite useful in quantifying your coaching focus towards enablement versus engagement zones. To be honest, I wish I would have brought this into play in the book in relation to sensemaking and the Coaching Arc.

How to Measure Effective Agile Coaching, Scrum Alliance, Jesse Fewel, (2021).

https://resources.scrumalliance.org/Article/measure-effective-agile-coaching

I like the focus away from measuring activity (output) and more on measuring satisfaction (impact, outcome). That being said, I do think it wise to connect the coach in some measurable way to the bottom-line impact they might have on business goals and outcomes. More directly than anecdotal satisfaction based on these.

Hey Agile Coach – How do you measure the success of the Agile Transformation you are a part of?, Sateesh Rudraraju, (2020).

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hey-agile-coach-how-do-you-measure-success-part-sateesh-rudraraju/

I’m not sure how valuable this article is because it’s mostly composed of lists of quotes and buzzwords. That being said, I do think measuring how well you’re “putting yourself out of a job” is something to more deeply consider.

The four-performance metrics I use when hiring agile coaches, Niall McShane, (2021).

https://www.niallmcshane.com/post/the-four-performance-metrics-of-agile-coaching-i-use-when-hiring

One of the things I love about this article is the focus on Metric #1: jobs that get done. It’s something that I rarely hear discussed amongst agile coaches and something I really didn’t explore in the book. That being said, I think I missed the opportunity. At the end of the day, whether we like it or not, agile coaches are brought in to do a job. And they need to get it done. Niall shares a nice Agile Coaching Job Sheet with the article. ***

What’s the best way you can measure the value of Agile coaching? Don’t mistake output for outcomes, Todd Lankford, (2021)

https://medium.com/serious-scrum/whats-the-best-way-you-can-measure-the-value-of-agile-coaching-ac988f8c838b

I really like the thoughtfulness Todd shares in this article. While it doesn’t directly relate to “metrics”, it does establish some key focus points for the coach and the client.

8 Ways to Measure Your Impact as an Agile Coach, Illustrated Agility, Len Lagestee, (2016)

https://illustratedagile.com/2016/04/25/8-ways-measure-impact-agile-coach/

This is an oldie but goodie as far as I’m concerned. I usually really resonate with anything that Len writes and this is no exception. I particularly like the depth and breadth of his views, including his coaching tree and ability to self-heal. ***

Agile Coach Performance Management: Measure Yourself as a Coach, not as a Manager, Lyssa Adkins, (2010)

https://www.agileconnection.com/article/agile-coach-performance-management-measure-yourself-coach-not-manager

This is another oldie, but goodie. I particularly like the Move away from…Move toward, the table as a means of directional alignment, and yes, it could be a personal measurement.

20th State of Agile Coaching Report – February 2021, Business agility Institute and Scrum Alliance, (2021).

https://f.hubspotusercontent40.net/hubfs/6606649/State-Of-Agile-Coaching-Report_February-2021.pdf

The report provides more of a backdrop for coaching as a whole, but you can see ideas of measurement throughout. Pages 7 – 11 contain some nice insights.

Top-10 Objectives for Agile Coaches, Gene Gendel, (202x).

https://www.keystepstosuccess.com/top-10-objectives-of-agile-coach/

I really like the thoughtfulness and completeness of Gene’s article here and the wide variety of perspectives he considers. Keep in mind though the influence that LeSS has had on Gene’s coaching thinking. ***

Conversation on – Suggestions for Assessing a Coach’s Performance on Agile Uprising Coalition, (2018).

https://coalition.agileuprising.com/t/suggestions-for-assessing-a-coachs-performance/1811

There are a wonderful set of responses and insights in this conversation.

Agile Metrics: 4 Balanced KPIs to Measure Success, Applied Frameworks, Joel Bancroft-Connors, (2017 – 2021)

https://appliedframeworks.com/agile-metrics-4-balanced-kpis-to-measure-success/

If you know me, you know that I’m a sucker for a good 4-quadrant model for literally…anything. Joel delivers a nice model here that can be helpful in thinking about how to measure agile coaches.

How an Agile Coach can measure their value, Agility Scales, Thomas Kuryura, (2018).

https://blog.agilityscales.com/how-an-agile-coach-can-measure-their-value-bb7967362b5e

An interesting notion of being more aware of and tracking your value proposition.

How Can you Measure Change as an Agile Coach, Scrum Alliance and Business Coaching magazine, Bob Galen, Kwasi Owusu-Asomaning, Jesse Fewell, (2021)

https://resources.scrumalliance.org/Article/measure-change-agile-coach

https://bcoaching.online/as-an-agile-coach-how-can-you-measure-change/

I was invited to do this piece by the Scrum Alliance. As were quite a few coaches. I was surprised that only the three of us responded and delighted at the variance amongst the responses. 

The Value of an Agile Coach, Roger Brown, (2009).

https://www.agilecoachjournal.com/2009-10-15/the-value-of-an-agile-coach

Roger is one of the coaches who, while he probably isn’t aware of it, has been a role model and example for my own coaching journey. This piece reminds me of the professionalism required in agile coaching and the need to measure/value it in some way.

I hope you got a bit of a sense of my views on agile coaching and coaching performance metrics. Not that mine is an important or dominant view. I just wanted to get it out there. But more importantly, I hope you take the time to read many of the references I’ve included. I think they provide a nice broad spectrum of insights to a very challenging question. And, while I personally don’t believe coach measurement should be a primary or even a good goal, it’s certainly a topic worthy of exploration. 

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

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