Agile Coaching Academy – Ideas

I have a dream of opening Agile Coaching Academy at some point. Some of my early thoughts are:

Agile is evolving. Though people are getting familiar with Scrum practices, however when it comes to ideal agile mindset, I think industry still has a long way to go. This is where Academy can help to nurture the agile mindset at grass root level and also at experienced corporate level. Academy can run workshops ranging from 3 hours to 3 weeks customised for type of audience where we will run them through a project (dummy but close to real), let them exercise agile practices and tune mindset towards agile. While doing so, naturally they will encounter many issues be in terms of Agile practice, people and their behaviour, engineering practices (e.g. TDD, CI, CD, automation, one click deployment, cloud ready etc.) and so. We as specialist tell them how to solve them in the best possible manner. In this process, they will be groomed and become agile ready for their respective organisations.

  • Specialised courses for students. Knowing technically they are at early stage and have no/very less experience in industry but we make them agile specialist. Agile could be like a virtually non-programming technology of the future
  • Customised courses for senior management and CXO level people how to transform their thinking and style of work into Agile and inculcate paradigm shift of mind. People at this level are the most difficult to understand agile and adopt to it. They don’t want to lose the control
  • After the course, we can have exam/test also. This can be at two levels. (a) checking specific agile skills (2) checking behavioural attributes and reading psychology of the people and assessing them. There will be no pass/fail but people will be rated on rank say scale 1 to 10 and given practical and constructive feedback how to bring paradigm shift in thinking
  • Sending monthly newsletter to industry highlighting candidates who got rating more than 5 in our test. This will give them instant visibility to the industry and potential chances to secure a job or raise
  • Tie up with universities and also with enterprises. These organisations are always willing to invest in these initiatives. It will give them branding also
  • Tie up with companies offering agile tools.


Product Backlog of Successful Engagement

I think, a successful engagement needs successful completion of all the stories given in the following backlog.

  1. Programming – knowledge of technology
  2. Customer management – this is a niche skill
  3. Communication – this is a soft skill, communication becomes very sensitive as you start interacting with various stakeholders
  4. Building relation with various stakeholders – does not come naturally to everyone
  5. Consultancy beyond programming – proactive approach
  6. Finding repeat business and explore more business opportunities – need vision and business outlook
  7. Foresee risks and handling escalations – typical management areas
  8. Resourcing decisions and resource movements – need to have companywide resourcing perspective and vision, knowledge of the contract
  9. Bailing project out of crisis when in serious trouble – out of box thinking, crisis management experience

I wonder how many items of the above backlog a technical team along with scrum master can pick up. The software development team who is too focused (team must be focused) in development, playing with technology every minute – it’s hard for them to focus in all of the above mentioned areas. I am not saying it is impossible. There are teams who have done this. But this is something which is not possible for every individual and every team to follow successfully. First of all – it needs good amount of time which a team focused on technology and feature development cannot find it too easily. Then it needs all together different perspective. It does need experience and niche skills. Teams may have all of these but at times, may not at that level and to that extent where it is required. That’s why you need someone who can pick non-technical stories from the above backlog and help team’s effort align with these. You don’t want to call this role as manager, absolutely fine (I know some of the Agile practitioners are allergic to the word ‘manager’) but there needs to be someone for sure. I think it is over ambitious to expect from a technical team to pick up all of the above mentioned 9 stories. Although the non-technical stories are relevant in any scenarios, they become even more important when development is done in distributed mode.