If you throw a stone at a congregation of software people, chances are you will hit an Agile Coach. Being an Agile Coach is almost becoming a fashion these days. “I am an Agile Coach”. I get to hear this quite a lot these days. It’s like ScrumMasters of yesteryears have now graduated to become Agile Coaches.
Not to condescend all Agile Coaches out there (well, I am one of them), I see lot of asses in lions’ skins (ass means donkey here, not what you think!). Yes, some of these Agile Coaches have truly risen from the ranks, worked their way through the trenches, and have earned their stripes (I come from a family with a long tradition of serving in defence forces). Such coaches have reached the Ri stage of Shuhari paradigm. They really know their stuff and are making significant impact with the teams/ organisations they are working with. However, there are others who picked up a ScrumMaster certification after two-days of training and became Agile Coaches overnight. Some of them even flaunt certifications across methodologies – Six-Sigma whatever belt, PMP (seriously?), etc.
Being an Agile Coach is not very different from being a sports coach. To begin with, you can’t be one just by passing a theoretical exam and having worked very little in the field. You need to have years of experience in the field and should have mastered some aspect of it. Like a sports coach, you should know that not all methods apply the same way everywhere – different teams have different training needs because of their own strength/weakness combinations. There is no one-size-fits-all approach. Yes, the basic principles remain the same but you still need to customise the treatment for each team.
And to make matters worse, such Agile Coaches are being hired by organisations (as employees on payrolls or as consultants) eager to get on the Agile bandwagon. And when their methods don’t work in such organisations, Agile gets bad name. People think, “maybe Agile is not for me”. Well, that could be true with some teams/ organisations but a bad implementation of Agile by a worse “Agile Coach” should not be considered a representation of what Agile truly has to offer.
I would just end this rant hoping that professional astuteness would trump fancy titles.