I am an agile coach currently in the Washington DC area working with federal government agencies.
The most frequent questions I get asked are: 1. What exactly do you do as an Agile Coach? and 2. How do you get into this job?
So, here’s the short answer to both those questions.
As an Agile Coach, I help teams and organizations start and/or improve their transformation towards Agile. On a daily basis, that translates to three basic responsibilities.
One, I work with existing Agile teams to improve their adoption of a Agile framework, either Scrum, XP or Kanban most often, and sometimes a customized blend of values and practices.
Second, I create and deliver training on a wide-range of Agile topics, most often process-related, or role-specific, such as for product owners or executives.
Third, I help assess the current state of organizations, teams or projects and then create a roadmap for their Agile journey.
So, how did I become an Agile Coach? It certainly wasn’t by design.
Many moons ago, while at university to be pre-med, I started working for the student newspaper and became instantly hooked by journalism. I had visions of being the next Christiane Amanpour or Molly Ivins!
A combination of internships and some post-graduation newsroom experience tempered the fantasies a bit but I still loved being a reporter and was convinced that my career future was certain.
Soon I realized that the newspaper industry was becoming highly politicized and then started eroding, so I took what was supposed to be a brief hiatus and got into IT as a business analyst.
I realized quickly that being a BA specializing in requirements elicitation for software development and business project re-engineering projects required many of the same skills as a newspaper reporter: active listening, interviewing people, gathering information from written sources, the ability to put puzzle pieces together, etc.
After several years as a BA, I transitioned into project management and found that I liked strategic thinking and seeing the big picture but felt I was creating by-products more than adding value.
Then came Agile and Scrum — and I rediscovered my career passion. Common-sense user stories replaced 100-page design documents. Delivery was measured in weeks and months, rather than years. Teamwork and interactions among individuals replaced staring at screens in solitary state. And management was about helping others have more success at their job by removing obstacles and promoting transparency.
So I became a product owner in the healthcare domain first and then a ScrumMaster, since I was fascinated by the how of this framework and value system. I started adding elements of Lean, Kanban and XP into my toolkit. After several years as a ScrumMaster, I am now an Agile Coach and am still passionate about Agile transformations, at the individual, team and now organizational level.