My Coaching Journey

My Colleague and friend, Chris Stone, posted an article on LinkedIn that shared a figure of his interpretation of The Agile Coach Hype Cycle. He asked me—How did your journey look?

And it made me think…

Of my journey. Had I followed the steps that he had laid out? Where was I currently on my journey? And where might I be going?

I’m going to share some meaningful events and milestones in my journey—certainly not all, but reflecting on my journey to reflect forward.

Late 1990s

  • Introduced to Lean thinking, Extreme Programming, and Scrum.

  • Early direct experience while working at Micrognosis & Bell & Howell.

  • Aligning with earliest Scrum stories and practices.

  • The Pragmatic Programmer book was (and is) an influence for me.

  • XP was the leading framework for my experience.

  • I was an “Agile Technical Leader” versus an “Agile Coach.”

2000s

  • Opened RGCG, LLC as my consulting practice in 2001.

  • Deeper dive into XP + Kanban installation and practice.

  • Henrik Kniberg’s books were incredibly influential to me.

  • Certifications (CSM – 2004, CSPO – 2007) with Schwaber & Cohn.

  • Ongoing agile-centric work at ChannelAdvisor and Teradata that honed my experience.

  • Leveraged Scrum of Scrum scaling: simple, just enough, and bottom-up organic model.

  • Published Scrum Product Ownership in 2009.

  • I still considered myself an “Agile Leader” versus an “Agile Coach”

2010s

  • Great agile leadership work experience at iContact and Deutsche Bank that led to my full-time coaching pivot.

  • Happened upon Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd’s book and the Agile Coaching Competency Framework.

  • Achieved Scrum Alliance CEC in 2012.

  • Kanban Practitioner and Coaching deep dives with David Anderson.

  • Wrote Agile Reflections, 3 Pillars of Agile Quality & Testing, and 2’nd Edition of Scrum Product Ownership.

  • Left active work as an Agile Leader in ~ 2013. Refocused on RGCG, LLC.

  • Deeper dive into scaling frameworks: LeSS, Nexus, SAFe, and Scrum@Scale. Became and then unbecame SAFe SPC.

  • Began teaching Scrum Alliance Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) classes in 2017.

2020s

  • Opened Agile Moose in January 2019 as my “alter ego and soapbox” and began the Moose Herd group in late 2019.

  • ORSC trained coach in 2019 – 2020.

  • Published Extraordinarily Badass Agile Coaching in 2022.

  • Co-developed the Agile Coaching PI assessment for Comparative Agility.

  • Achieved CEC Emeritus in November 2023.

  • I switched from Scrum Alliance CAL delivery to iCAgile ICP-LEA classes for my leadership teaching and clients.

Casting a brief eye towards the future, I think my interests have mostly turned to—

  • My Legacy—and focusing on what I’m leaving behind. My privilege, influence, and responsibility to help steward agile ways of working.

  • My Learning—I’m still studying, coaching, and teaching in Agile Coaching and Agile Leadership. These are such rich areas that I don’t believe I’ll ever run out of space to explore.

  • My Relationships—I’ve discovered that the most important thing I do is build relationships with folks in my agile community.

And, no, I don’t think I’ll be writing any more books.

What reflecting on the cycle did for me is make me realize that I didn’t start out wanting to be an agile coach. Interestingly, I haven’t thought about it that way before.

My path was more of a software product technologist, leader, consultant, and practitioner focused on agile ways of working from ~1998 until today. Agile Coaching wasn’t even a “thing” when I began. My experience unfolds in two significant periods. From ~1998 to ~2010, I was focused more as a practitioner.

Then, from ~2010 to today, I transitioned into more and more Agile Coaching practices and focus. The Agile Coaching for me also emerged from other deeper disciplines—mainly from my leadership and consulting roles.

There are some cons to that approach. One that instantly comes to mind is how long my journey was. Also, it was a bit of a winding road that oscillated quite a bit between my full-time job and becoming an expert in agile practices.

But the pros to me far outweigh any cons, for example—

  • This finally explains why I’m so comfortable in many Agile Coaching Growth Wheel competencies in coaching leaders and providing advice. Something I’ve found very challenging for many of today’s coaches.

  • It means I’m probably much more Pi-Shaped than most coaches, with an (albeit historic affinity to technology, product, testing, and technical leadership).

  • The longer timeframe allowed me to witness the beginnings of the agile movement and the emergence of everything from practices and frameworks to tooling to pragmatic adoption patterns over several decades.

  • Along the way, I discovered how deep and broad the profession of Agile Coaching was. This respect for it helped me to look at the journey as a continuous learning process and not as a destination.

Another realization is that many Agile Coaches today start out wanting to be a coach. They have a clear goal and wish to achieve it quickly. Clearly, that wasn’t my path.

I’m wondering what sharing my path has inspired in your own reflections. Not only of where you’ve come from but where you might be going in your own agile professional journeys.

Finally, I must thank Chris Stone for inspiring my walk back into Memory Lane. Thank you, Chris!

Stay agile my friends,

Bob.

Leave a Reply