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How to become an Agile Coach?

November 5, 2020

By Simpliaxis

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Introduction:
 

The Agile coach plays an important role in an Agile organization. After all, it is his responsibility to ensure that Agile principles are implemented in the enterprise. Besides, he becomes the mentor and coach for the Agile teams helping them work in a more synced and collaborated manner. The objective of an Agile coach is to enable Agile teams to be more productive, and come up with efficient solutions, be it products or services.

As an Agile coach, your role is to face the challenges of business in a smarter manner. The Agile coach is also responsible for matching the organizational goals with that of individual goals, empowering team members to go on with the use of Agile methods for the future. Let us see how to become a certified Agile coach.
 

How to become an Agile Coach?
 

The Agile coach is offered by the Agile Coaching Institute at three separate levels: –
 

  1. Team facilitator – is a certified person who works at the starter level with Agile teams.
     
  2. Agile coach – is a person who is next in seniority and works in a focused domain.
     
  3. Enterprise Agile coach – is the third level of the Agile coach certification who works in close association with the leadership team or the senior-most people in the organization.
     

Did you know that in 2019, a top online job portal showed that the profile of the Agile Coach was one of the top 25 in-demand jobs in the US. Last year, the Agile Coach had one of the highest paid salaries in the industrial domain – about $161K annual salary on an average. (Reference: indeed.com/lead/best-jobs-2019)
 

Details of how to become an Agile trainer
 

The question is how an interested candidate goes about becoming an Agile trainer.
 

1. Know Scrum basics and applications well
 

It is important to note here that today, in the times when Scrum, XP, Lean Management, or Kanban are known Agile methods, it is the Scrum that is leading the way with almost 70% of Agile enterprises today using Scrum as their Agile framework. This is why it is so critical to have a thorough knowledge of Scrum if you are keen to work as an Agile coach. So, you should have a working knowledge of Scrum; you could also be someone who has or is currently working as a Scrum Master. If you have worked as a team member of a Product Development Team or as a Product Owner, it is better. 

To summarize, as your professional experience, you should have preferably worked as a Scrum Master – ensure that you have completed the Professional Scrum Master Certification either from Scrum.org or the Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) certification from Scrum Alliance.

If you do not have a Scrum Master experience, then it is good to have completed the Product Owner Certification – the PSPO (Product Scrum Product Owner) or CSPO (Certified Scrum Product Owner) certification.

And finally, if you are not a Scrum Master or Product Owner, ensure that you have a Scrum Developer Certification.
 

2. Does it mean that if you are a certified Scrum Master, you are ready to take up the role of a coach of an Agile enterprise?
 

Just being a practicing Scrum Master is not enough to take up the role of an Agile coach. You need to learn and gain hands-on experience before choosing to become a coach.

The crux of the matter is that you need to study a lot – gain theoretical and practical insight to become a master of Scrum. The good thing is that there are enough books and online resources to gain extensive knowledge. Many experts believe that potential and keen-to-become Agile coaches should indulge in lots and lots of self-study. You can also seek expert advice from mentors and take coaching from experienced mentors.
 

3. What after this?
 

Once you have become a thorough Scrum Master or Product Owner, ensure that you take other relevant courses applicable for Agile enterprises. Look at taking a formal certification in Agile courses like Agile Certified Practitioner from Project Management Institute, ICAgile, Lean Management, and Kanban, and more.

You can look at taking up the Agile Facilitator and the Agile Coach Bootcamp course from the Agile Coaching Institute. Or, you can go in for the Agile Team Facilitation, Agile Coaching, and ICAgile Certified Expert in Agile from the International Consortium for Agile.
 

4. An Agile coach focuses on the organization rather than the team
 

Remember, a senior certified Agile coach has to work for the overall organizational goals. So, at the entry-level, you might have the experience of working with a team; now as you are all set to become an Agile coach, you have to shift to thinking about the people and the process rather than specific software development. 
 

5. Follow some of the best practices to become an expert Agile coach
 

Every profession has its share of best practices – ensure that you are aware of the same and get used to applying the same in your day-to-day working. Some of the practices include – understand what the client is saying, ask questions but listen carefully, take notes, do not indulge in unprofessional behavior, become a trustworthy coach so that people rely on you and are open to your coaching style, thoughts, and teachings.
 

6. Attempt to gain as much hands-on experience as possible
 

Instead of sticking to one organization or team, you should look at gaining experience across different organizations and industries. Practical knowledge is important, but also make sure to attend workshops and training, become a member of online forums, exchange information with others, share knowledge, and get mentored by a seasoned Agile coach. 
 

7. Become a member of the International Coaching Federation
 

It is a good idea to become a member of the ICF as the Federation is a very credible organization offering certification for all professional Agile coaches. ICF offers three levels of professional coach certification – Associate Certified Coach, Professional Certified Coach, and Master Certified Coach.
 

Conclusion
 

An Agile coach is a very important person in the enterprise. A lot of responsibilities lie on his shoulders. The Agility of the entire enterprise depends on his prowess and capabilities. When you become an Agile coach, you will realize that experienced and trained Agile coaches are hard to find. That is why it is good to gain proficiency in all aspects of agility before becoming an Agile coach.

 

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