Why I stopped Coaching Agility and so should you!
The story goes ...
During the Agile Coach Camp at Agile India 2019, we had an interesting discussion driven by Woody Zuill around the concept of Organisational Inertia. This has been a topic of research since the early 80s with the newest research in 2000s as well. The research basically revolves around two aspects:
- An organisation's incapability to keep up with major shifts
- The resistance towards change
These don't necessarily stop change from happening but considerably slows down the shift. With organisations struggling to survive in a VUCA world, Organisational Inertia becomes one of the critical factors for consideration. Enter, an Agile Coach! Our industries have heavily invested in them in the recent past and continue to do so in order to help them survive in this VUCA world. Shane Hastie addresses this as the Golden Age of Agile Coaching in which coaches can help the poor souls navigate themselves during a period of turmoil. I respect that.
But my evil mind links the concepts of Organisational Inertia and the Golden Age of Agile Coaching differently; so during the Agile Coach Camp, I asked folks to run a Thought Experiment which I also mentioned in my talk during Agile India 2019.
The hypothesis is: "We can deploy Agile Coaches in organisations and hopefully the organisations will overcome their inertia in 10 years to provide a better work experience to their employees. Contrarily, if Agile Coaches cease to exist, organisations may crumble under their inertia in 5 years and the ones left will be great places to work" ... from a Behavioural Economics standpoint, the second option seems better.
Being a SLICE fundamentalist, I decided to run this hypothesis and began my experiment on 3rd June 2019, the day after I finished my last batch of ICAgile's Agile Coaching training. At the time of submitting this proposal, it hasn't been very long since I started the experiment, and it hasn't been easy to deliberately take a step back from coaching interventions. The observations have been interesting (if not amazing) so far and this is my experience report that I wish to share during Agile India 2020.
My plan is to run a set of experiments until 31st December 2019 and then decide my way ahead. I mention below the observations so far that I wish to share in my talk but there may be other experiments that I'll share if provided a platform at Agile India 2020.
Outline/Structure of the Experience Report
- Present a hypothesis
- Explain the experiment executed for the hypothesis
- Share the observations
- Open for discussion
- IF needed THEN repeat step 2
- ELSE repeat step 1
- STOP when time expires
Here are 3 hypothesis and a couple of associated experiments that I wish to share:
- Hypothesis: Anyone can be an Agile Coach, not everyone should.
We have recently seen an explosion in the number of Agile Coaches, a lot self proclaimed and a lot driven by certifications. This hypothesis states that although it's fair to teach coaching skills, not restricting coaching as a practice to a select few may do more harm than good.
Experiment 1.1: The effects of having a Code of Ethics for Agile Coaches. Share observations.
Experiment 1.2: The effects of making the Agile Coach certifications obsolete or extremely difficult. Share observations.
- Hypothesis: Not talking about agility improves agility for others.
Although this takes a lot from coaching skills, this hypothesis states that just the act of limiting the propagation of information around agility can lead to an increase in agility compared to current rates.
Experiment 2.1: The effects of social media on the knowledge of agility. Share observations.
Experiment 2.2: The effects of deliberate silence by experts around agile practices. Share observations.
- Hypothesis: Degree of agility cannot be measured objectively.
This hypothesis states that any metrics to assess agility will yield incorrect results and cannot be considered as the basis of any change / transformation initiatives.
Experiment 3.1: The effects of assessment surveys and variation in formats. Share observations.
Experiment 3.2: The effects of objective goals for organisations undergoing a transformation. Share observations.
This seems a lot for 20 minutes, yes it is! I don't wish to indulge in the details of the experiments too much rather focus more around the major actions of the experiment and provide the observations. Also, these hypothesis and experiments are to be presented in a round-robin fashion, as many can be accommodated in 20 minutes. The intent is to create a conversation starter with this experience report.
Agility practitioners across the spectrum
Prerequisites for Attendees
A belief in people, possibilities, and experiments.