The Story of The Blue Agile Coach

“Anjali, is he really the same person that we interviewed? Something is not right”, Vishal mentioned in a frustrated email to his recruitment head. He just came out of a stormy meeting with James (client manager) and was still trying to absorb the conversation. He could not believe that the person they hired as an Agile Coach was proving to be a disaster.

James said in the meeting, “Vishal, you guys introduced Mahesh to us as an experienced Agile Coach. We believed you and let him run the show. But he does not know how to define a value stream and how to launch an ART (Agile Release Train). He knows scrum ceremonies but is not able to convince people having doubt about agile. He can track the user stories in Jira, but that’s not what we are looking for in a coach. Are you really sure, he is an Enterprise Agile Coach?”

Vishal opened Mahesh’s resume once more, and everything looked rosy. Then he decided to have a conversation with Mahesh. After the detailed conversation with Mahesh, he called Anjali and said, “Anjali, looks like we have a Blue Agile Coach with us”. “What do you mean by Blue Agile Coach? I have never heard of that”, Anjali said.

Vishal started unfolding the story, “Do you remember the story of a Blue Jackal from Panchatantra? A jackal (Chandaraka) entered a village and was chased by dogs. While trying to escape from the dogs, he fell into the jar full of blue color used for bleaching clothes. He decided to take advantage of his new blue color and announced himself as a special creation of God and as the new king Kakudruma. It went one fine for a while, but one day when he heard other jackals howling, he also joined them and was recognized by other animals”.

“So Anjali, I recognized that Vishal’s entire experience has been just as a Scrum Master, but he ‘presented’ himself as an Agile Coach during the hiring process. Since he answered all the theoretical questions about Agile/Scrum/SAFe correctly, we considered him as a coach and presented him in front of the customer”, said Vishal. He continued, “Going forward, we will differentiate properly between a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach. The Scrum Master would support the team, protect the team from outside interferences and guide the team’s use of Scrum. (S)he would be focused on scrum ceremonies for specific teams and would ensure that the potentially shippable items are delivered as expected. Whereas an Agile Coach would be focused on building right organizational capabilities, skills and mindset. A coach might work with scrum teams for set up right practices, but his/her focus is always to ensure that the organization internalizes agile principles & values. The mission, scope and duration of engagement would be different for both the roles”. Vishal & Anjali decided to differentiate clearly between a Scrum Master and an Agile Coach going forward and they lived happily ever after?

Friends, did you observe any such scenario in your environment? Did you see any mismatch with representation vs. reality? Do you remember any Blue Agile Coach or ARE YOU THE ONE?

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About Author

Mr. Rahul Sudame is Delivery Partner & Agile Coach at Persistent Systems Ltd. Senior Business Professional and Agile Thought Leader. He is a proven leader and Project/Program manager in the IT industry. He was Vice President (Corporate) and Director (Programs) at PMI Pune-Deccan India Chapter. Rahul is PMI Agile Certified Practitioner (PMI-ACP), Certified Scrum Master (CSM), Certified Scrum Professional (CSP), Project Management Professional (PMP) and ITIL Foundation certified. Experience in end-to-end delivery experience (planning, monitoring & tracking, scheduling, software analysis, design, development) for web applications using Java, J2EE technologies in various domains such as Healthcare, Insurance, Retail, Virtualization, Content Management, ePublishing etc.

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