What keeps you awake at night on an Agile coaching engagement?

14 Aug 2023

The importance of client engagement

I strongly believe in a crucial tenet of coaching: the work needs to be done by the client. If the work is only performed by the coach, the results simply won’t be sustainable. It’s in the delicate balancing act between Agile coaching and Agile consulting that I find my rhythm. Here, several aspects of my role come into play:

  • Training
  • Mentoring
  • Education
  • Facilitation

If you’re curious about this approach, head over to the Agile Actually podcast where I discuss this with Martin Hinshelwood in our first episode: agileactually.com.

The ethics of Agile coaching

The critical question that keeps me up at night is: am I delivering the value I should be delivering?

If I feel I’m not providing enough value, I believe it’s both ethical and professional to leave the engagement. The rationale is simple: if the juice isn’t worth the squeeze, don’t squeeze. I constantly reflect on my contribution to the engagement. How am I helping to build a sustainable learning culture with my client? How am I alleviating some of the pressures and frictions they are currently experiencing, or those they faced at the start of the engagement?

Measuring progress: The evidence-based approach

It’s not enough to just ask these questions, however. The key to my peace of mind lies in concrete evidence of progress. Evidence-based management, a fantastic framework built by Ken Schwaber, is my go-to tool for this.

Evidence-based management is a framework that provides objective metrics to measure progress in four key value areas:

  • Quality
  • Time to market
  • Cost
  • Scope.

By using this approach, you shift the focus from qualitative analysis to quantitative and measure clear improvements in a tangible way.

For example, you can measure the number of features delivered per sprint or the number of bugs fixed per week. This helps you track progress and identify areas for improvement.

My commitment to agreed outcomes

And so, what keeps me tossing and turning at night is the question of whether I’m delivering on the agreed outcomes that were shaped at the start of the engagement. The promises made at the outset set the standard for the entire engagement, and it’s my duty to uphold these.

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