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BONUS: Re-imagining Agile Coaching with Opportunity-based Agile Coaching, Peter Rubarth

In this podcast episode, Peter introduces the concept of “Opportunity-based Agile Coaching.” He clarifies that it is not a new method but rather a deliberate approach to leveraging existing momentum in Agile software development. The goal is to understand and harness what is already happening or about to happen, using both the company’s energy and the coach’s energy efficiently. A key tip is to identify what people are paying attention to, what they care about, and where the energy lies. By doing so, you can effectively facilitate the desired changes in a different and more effective way.

Agile Coaching Beyond the Plan: The Magic of Opportunity-Driven Approach

This approach distinguishes itself from other coaching methods in two ways. Firstly, it contrasts with a planned transition approach where a desired state is predetermined, which contradicts the Agile nature. Secondly, it differs from the problem-based approach, where coaching focuses on specific stakeholder issues. However, this approach identifies missed opportunities and encourages fostering requests. It involves aligning personal ideas of agility with company strategy and culture, using these as an umbrella for coaching. It suggests searching for coaching openings through conversations, leveraging cultural insights and challenges, which is a unique selling proposition (USP) for internal Agile coaches.

From Aversion to Alignment: Unleashing Transformation through Opportunity-Based Coaching

During an engagement with autonomous teams working on a shared product, Peter encountered gaps in collaboration due to a prevailing aversion to alignment within the organization. Acknowledging the importance of alignment, Peter initially waited for an opportune moment. Eventually, a strategic shift within the organization created a need for alignment and inter-team collaboration, serving as the catalyst. Emphasizing the goal over “change,” Peter partnered with stakeholders, positioning the alignment as a step toward the goal rather than a disruptive change. In a workshop, teams shared their focus in relation to a shared leadership-communicated goal, leading to insights and a surge of energy. This emergent process of opportunity-based agile coaching highlighted that aligning with the goal, not just altering processes, drives positive transformation. The experience showcased the power of harnessing existing momentum, underscoring the value of recognizing and utilizing opportunities within the Agile coaching process. This approach not only facilitated change but also nurtured an environment where coaching opportunities naturally arose, validating the effectiveness of opportunity-based agile coaching.

Tackling Challenges of Agile Coaching through Opportunities

Agile Coaches navigating opportunity-based coaching face several challenges. Humility is key, acknowledging that one doesn’t possess all answers. Embracing the Probe-sense-respond approach, coaches learn, observe, experiment, and adapt without a predefined plan. Observational skills are vital, allowing judgment-free insights to form a holistic understanding. Building hypotheses through observations is essential. Maintaining team interaction, earning trust, and accessing stakeholders at various stages are critical. Productive sponsor conversations are advised, while curiosity and continual learning must be cultivated. Overcoming these challenges empowers Agile Coaches to effectively employ opportunity-based coaching for meaningful change and enhanced collaboration.

From Frustration to Fulfillment: The Journey of Agile Coaches with Opportunity-Based Coaching

Opportunity-based Agile Coaching contributes significantly to the growth of Agile Coaches. By unveiling the organizational dynamics and facilitating effective change, coaches overcome frustration and gain renewed energy. It offers practical insight into making Agile practices work, nurturing confidence and motivation. The approach’s rapid pace demands a well-prepared toolbox and a focus on experimentation, fostering an empirical approach. Notably, the principle of moving on when energy is lacking ensures coaches remain adaptable and attuned to opportunities, cultivating continuous development and an enriched coaching skill set.

Recommended Resources

To delve deeper into the concept of opportunity-based Agile coaching, I recommend the book “Art of Action” by Bungay, which delves into the notion of “directed opportunism.” This resource helps framing managerial intentions to guide execution while allowing room for seizing opportunities. Additionally, Peter’s blog post on “opportunity-based agile coaching” offers further insights into this approach, detailing how to transition from recognizing existing momentum to deliberately fostering it for effective Agile coaching.

About Peter Rubarth

Peter’s fascination with agile began when Scrum helped to transform a seemingly impossible mission into triumph. This motivated his passion for guiding teams towards outcome-focused agility. Embracing these principles in his agile coaching, Peter champions the cause of elevating agile coaching as a profession.

You can link with Peter Rubarth on LinkedIn.

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