“Yes… but what does an Agile Coach do all day?”

If I had a quarter for ever time I was asked that question in Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course, I would have a lot of quarters.  Thankfully, we have an excellent article from Bernd Schiffer (@bernrdschiffer) that lays out forty-two tasks for a ScrumMaster . While one may not agree with all the tasks on Bernd Schiffer’s list, his article is a great start to deepen our understanding of what a ScrumMaster does and they value they bring an organization.  With a more advanced certification, like Certified Scrum Professional-ScrumMaster (CSP-SM), answering those questions was a lot more difficult, until today.

When Jason and I got together to create our original CSP Fast Pass program, we had to sit down and think about what was our vision for an Agile Coach (CSP-SM).  Since we were creating an entire program from nothing, we had some challenging questions to consider: What value does an Agile Coach provide a business?  What sort of an impact would an Agile Coach make in a business?  Why would someone be interested in perusing their CSP-SM to become an Agile Coach?

After much discussion, we arrived at seven broad areas where we expect an Agile Coach to make an impact.

  1. Delivers Business Value: an Agile Coach guides the team to deliver the highest business value to solve today’s problem to inform the selection of tomorrow’s top priority.
  2. Fosters Collaboration: teamwork is at the heart of Agile development; the productivity of the team as a whole is much greater than that of the individual members.  An Agile Coach never forgets this.
  3. Builds Trust: product health and project status are readily reported in transparent, honest and unambiguous terms, based on defined business value and fulfilled commitments.
  4. Shares the Product Vision: an Agile Coach facilitates a shared overall vision of what the Agile team is working to achieve; this is the context in which the team will be maximizing business value.
  5. Demonstrates Self-Improvement: an Agile Coach engages in self improvement (in a collaborative spirit), ultimately to enhance the team and the product and to build technical excellence.  A CSP never stops growing or learning and encourages others to do the same.
  6. Promotes Supportive Culture: an Agile Coach facilitates understanding among executives, managers, and team members that high productivity only exists in a trusting environment.  An Agile Coach reinforces the expectation that mistakes and failures are a natural part of the learning process.
  7. Encourages Technical Excellence: an Agile Coach supports team members in making sound technical choices and taking a no-compromise attitude towards quality.  An Agile Coach truly understands that in order to go faster, the level of quality must be increased.

In our next article in this series, we discuss the sixty-five essential tasks for an Agile Coach.