Scrum Coaching From Industry Specialists

What Is A Scrum Coach?

Scrum coaching is a collaborative and iterative process used to help people through continuous improvement to move towards increased personal and business value. Sometimes people conflate it with scrum consulting, but they are distinct.

Coaching doesn’t need the coach to provide all the answers or to be a subject matter expert. The facilitator creates a structure and a safe environment where individuals can be open to experimenting and growth.

How Can A Scrum Master Coach The Team?

Although a scrum master can coach a team, it’s inadvisable. The roles are different because one deals with daily, granular workflows; while the other deals with larger business transformations.

A scrum coach is somebody that has a more extensive point of view of impediments and scaling than the scrum master who focuses on daily scrum and the scrum team. Usually, a scrum coach will have started their career in the framework as either a scrum product owner, or a scrum master.

Scrum coaches prioritise cross-functional and high-level thinking across teams by facilitating teamwork. Product development is just one of the core agile values of scrum coaches. The other is the development of individuals and team mindsets.

To apply an extended metaphor based on software development methodology: a scrum coach refactors the code at the heart of the team. This refactoring ‘cleans up’ team methodologies and removes anything seen as an obstacle.

Coaching leads to better agility and continuous integration across sprints. Continuous integration is the iterative development where agile teams add more layers to their workflows.

Why You Need A Scrum Coach

One of the most frequently asked questions from managers is: why should we use a scrum coach when we already employ a certified scrum master? Some managers consider the expense of hiring someone who never tells the team what to do as irresponsible. What these managers ignore are 7 skills integral to the role of a scrum coach.

The 7 Skills Of A Scrum Coach vs A Scrum Master

There are skills that a scrum master may only possess in part or possess without time to apply them. A scrum coach will possess these skills entirely:
  1. Establishes trust-based relationships with individuals. They offer a less agile team perspective, based on the workflows of all teams within an organisation.
  2. By acknowledging each individual in a team is whole and resourceful, the scrum coach creates cross-functional teams who can port their skills across implementations.
  3. Is a servant-leader whose main leadership philosophy is to serve and support the team.
  4. Leads through example and not merely delegation or from the barracks of an office.
  5. All the aspects of agile delivery require a scrum team and its coach to remain in the present and look at present solutions to workflow problems.
  6. Practices generative listening, which leads individuals to inspect their own work in relation to other members of their team. This often leads to positive scrum values because of the underlying principles of change management.
  7. Empowers team members to make decisions through powerful questioning and the ability to get team members to collaborate.

What Scrum Coaching Is Not

Since coaching is unique to an organization’s agile journey, it is sometimes misunderstood. Often practitioners find it easier to explain what coaching is to people by explaining what it is not. Below are some common misinterpretations concerning scrum coaching.

Coaching Is not Counseling

What makes coaching distinct from therapy relates to the manner concentrate on advancing the success of individual team members to achieve personal and joint targets. Scrum coaches are not interested in the daily management aspect of the team or the scrum training and scrum meetings.

The coach enters the organisation believing self organisation already exists at the team-level. They are the facilitators of safe frameworks that foster growth in a specific area: the scrum mindset. Counseling involves separating someone from their environment, which may involve improving a person’s holistic mental wellbeing.

Coaching Is Not Consulting

A coach in an area does not need to be an expert on the subject. Scrum coaching does not include the coach telling team members the answer. Unlike training, coaching is not a guided approach to the scrum framework. The process is a mind-development tool and an outlook development tool at its core.

Coaching Is Not A Conversation Between Friends

A good scrum coach will not try to befriend team members and speak to them as friends. The pitfall of being friends with people on a team is the difficulty of remaining impartial during the coaching session and staying objective. This would be counter to the mindset shift demanded by coaching and ultimately affect the agility of the team.

Ultimately, coaching is about the individual agile journey. It is meant to empower people so that they can fully serve themselves and their teams. In this way, scrum principles are not just internalised, they are also applied at every possible moment.

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