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How to Create a Coaching Alliance Within a Company

8 August 2017

A client has asked me to help them with their start in Agile. My plan is to help them by first designing and then executing a training plan on Agile topics. I will include workshops, an evaluation of the growing maturity of their teams, and work with them on a Scrum project.

That is all fairly standard. But I will also help them find their way and grow by creating a "coaching alliance" in the company, to further support the Agile adoption from within. I've asked the company's development manager the following questions to help with this strategy:
  • What are you looking for in a coach?
  • How do you think a coach can help you?
  • Do you know the tasks and responsibilities of a coach?
  • Do all the members know what a coach can bring to the team?
  • Do you think we can be direct with our opinions?
  • Can we be critical of ourselves?
  • Do you agree that we are faced with a number of challenges?
  • Do you mind that we are frequently evaluating the challenges and the reasons why other challenges have not been overcome?
  • Do you agree to set timeboxes for the events we carry out?
  • Do you consider it important that there be timely meetings?
  • Do you think that respect should be everyone's general attitude?
  • How do you want to work with team members?
  • What environment would you like to create?
  • What kind of behavior involves teams?
  • How do you think we can resolve conflicts?
The answers have been interesting because they have created a good work climate. I think the most important thing is sincerity, and in this case the questions have led to our having been sincere about how receptive the team is to adopting Agile.

The next time I work with an organization transitioning to Agile, I will use the same technique for creating an inter-company alliance. However, I now know that it's best to analyze the questions and adapt them to the situation; the questions cannot be general and must be customized after gaining a better understanding of the client's business and cultural climate. Another best practice will be to take into account the depth and breadth of knowledge of the person with whom I will establish the alliance, and his or her perception of the teams' likelihood of success in the Agile adoption.

Opinions represent those of the author and not of Scrum Alliance. The sharing of member-contributed content on this site does not imply endorsement of specific Scrum methods or practices beyond those taught by Scrum Alliance Certified Trainers and Coaches.

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