Although there is not a written rule on the difference between an Agile or Transformation coach, in my experience there is a distinct difference.
Agile coaching is the outcome of successful Transformation coaching.
In essence, the outcome of Transformation coaching is to establish a structure to change behavior so that Agile coaching can enhance the System of Delivery. Ultimately, the distinction hinges on whether the capability of the team deciding has been refined on the team.
The right type of coaching can be determined by validating: “Can the team make a decision and manage the change, successfully?”
Before we progress any further, in some models – the existence of a Transformation would be the idea that the organization is undergoing risky change, and therefore needs a scaffolding of support to deliver an Agile System of Delivery. In this case, we’ll refer to those as a System of Transformation (SoT) and a System of Delivery (SoD), the sustainable delivery organization.
Due to the need for a Transformation, and consequently a system of Transformation, the organization must make a drastic change to survive impending doom. For the organization to be successful, the organization must pivot in a timely fashion. To ensure success, the system of coaching that exists during this period is Transformation coaching.
In short, Transformation coaching is doing it for the team, until the team can do it themselves. The traditional stances of coaching are used in this model, whereas there are two caveats to ensure the Transformation is successful:
1. The coaching may include doing that activity for the team until the System of Delivery can do it for the team.
2. Not all team members will necessarily endure the Transformation and as a Transformation coach, the role is to escalate those individuals to leadership so that those humans can be supported. We do this because the team isn’t ready to decide.
Agile coaching is traditionally uplifting and patient for the change. For Agile coaching to be successful, the baseline Agile principles of self-organization, feedback loops, and continuous improvement are fluent throughout the system and established on each team.
An Agile coach would rarely do anything for the team except offer self-reflection, and this is what makes Agile coaching effective. We do this because the team is ready to decide.
Transformation coaching exists to drive outcomes in dire straights. It shouldn’t be fear. It is just another stance in the arsenal. Whereas, if you’re facilitating a Transformation and you’re not getting the outcome suspect, examine the coaches – you could be stuck in a cycle where the teams can’t do that skill, and the coaches won’t do it for them – because of the missing coaching stance.