The importance of the Agile coach

  • Posted on September 23, 2014

The following blog post was written by Avanade alum Karel Deman.

If you had to transform the attitudes and culture of a 20,000 employee company in its journey to become more agile, where would you start?

A key element in embarking on a large-scale transformation is absolute buy-in from leadership at the executive and local levels. It is, in fact, both a top-down and a bottom-up dynamic – you also need buy-in from the consultants in the field. Regardless of place in the hierarchy, “if the brain doesn’t have the agile mind set, the rest won’t follow suit.”

At Avanade, we formed a core group of agile coaches who are well-connected both locally and with global leadership. Our agile coaches represent multiple lines of business and geographies across our Global Delivery Network, and are undoubtedly our elite agile practitioners.

We don’t ask just anyone to be an agile coach: it’s a highly selective process, and we set the bar high. All of our coaches have undergone intense train-the-trainer sessions with Scrum.org, and most are also Professional Scrum Trainers, a certification that is by invitation only and held by only 125 people worldwide.

Our agile coaches are the change agents continuously driving awareness and adoption within their respective areas and regions, supporting local agile projects and always acting as trusted agile advisors to keep teams and customers focused on their journey to agile.

The title of agile coach doesn’t in itself guarantee success. Agile coaches need to be strong leaders. Self-management, autonomy and absolute trust from leadership are crucial ingredients to nurture a tight group capable of seeing through the transformation. All promote a culture of learning where respect and pride are top traits.

Our agile practitioners' knowledge must be complemented by agile engineering practices such as emergent architecture, build automation– such as continuous delivery - exploratory testing and test automation, and various code quality techniques.

While a comprehensive training and certification program are paramount to building an enterprise-class agile capability, we find that people are truly the key to our success. I am a firm believer in having collaborative global teams that do more than just talk about agile, but live it every day, creating a stronger environment which enables our people to deliver more value to our customers.

This blog post is the fourth in a series about Agile @ Avanade by author Karel Deman. Each part of the series will be published every other week, so stop back to read the latest installment.

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