Being Agile vs Coaching Agile: Lessons Learned from 20 Agile Coaches in the Kitchen

Many, or even most, Agile Transformations are run by a single Agile Coach as a traditional project.

But when you try to do this on the extreme scale, you learn some things that you might not otherwise learn. In this session, you will learn how you can apply lessons learned at the extremes to any coaching engagement whether you are the only coach in an engagement or one coach on a team of coaches. The most valuable lesson is that there is a huge difference between coaching Agile and being Agile.

In an engagement that is helping a large financial institution perform an Agile Transformation, the coaching team has grown from 1 coach to 20.

In the beginning, the coaches were acting as individual coaches each working with their assigned teams. Everything seemed to be going just fine, just like any other engagement with a handful of coaches. As the team grew to 20 coaches for hundreds of teams and thousands of people, the number of problems in the coaching team grew as well. The funny thing was... the problems all started to sound the same as any other traditional development team. And that was the "aha!" moment.


When you put a bunch of head chefs in the kitchen, you get huge problems. Agile to the rescue!

It turns out that an Agile Transformation project is just as amenable to being run as an Agile project as the software projects that it is attempting to transform.

Not only does this produce breakthrough results, it also has the interesting side effect of providing an amazing opportunity for self-evaluation and growth for the Agile Coaches. The coaches learned more about Agile and themselves in a short span of time than one would normally learn over the course of years.