If you want to be successful at Agile Transformation—especially at scale—you’ll need more than Agile Coaches teaching your teams the ceremonies of Scrum or how to do SAFe and LeSS. Why? Because the #1 reason Agile Transformations fail in large organizations is that they aren’t set up with the right underlying ecosystem for Agile to work within in the first place.
To achieve the outcomes necessary to run a structured and disciplined Agile Transformation that doesn’t fail, it’s not about focusing the work on the teams themselves. The focus needs to be on creating the necessary structure before the work of the teams can ever get you where you want to be.
To be successful, your company will need an array of people to take on various Agile roles and responsibilities. This team of Agile Transformation Coaches consists of people focused on executive-level understanding and Agile leadership, people that teach team-level technical practices, and everything in between.
In this blog, we’ll explore the various roles and responsibilities of the Agile Transformation Coaches we deploy on our engagements.
Agile Lead Roles and Responsibilities
There are two roles at the top of the Agile Coaching stack—the Transformation Lead (TL) and the Expedition Lead (EL). The TL and EL typically work closely with executives and delivery leadership to create, execute, and drive the Transformation strategy within the organization.
Agile Coach’s Responsibility
The Transformation Lead (TL) partners with the executive team to lead them through the Transformation process. The Transformation Lead is a high-influence peer to the executive, and as such will challenge their partner in order to produce clarity around the Transformation strategy.
The Transformation Lead’s ultimate responsibility is to the high-level execution of the Transformation strategy and the communication of the required steps to reach the desired end state.
Leadership’s Role in Agile Transformation
The Expedition Lead (EL) works to execute the Transformation strategy within the enterprise. They work in conjunction with delivery leadership to educate and propagate information concerning the high-level Transformation strategy as communicated by the Transformation Lead.
The Expedition Lead’s ultimate responsibility is to own the outcomes-based plan for each increment of the Transformation, and the strategy alignment to delivery needs.
Agile Transformation Coaches
The Program/Portfolio Coach is a critical component for groups of large, scaled product teams. This coach is a member of the portfolio or program team who focuses on the overarching framework for the organization in question. They must be able to understand how the different pieces of team architecture, functionality, and development fits into the global structure.
This role isn’t just teaching people new practices. Instead, the PPC is expected to influence and change the system around the people to enable the organization to create the optimal conditions that will maximize the business benefits of Agile Transformation.
Agile Process Coach
The Agile Process Coach educates the teams in this increment of the Transformation on Agile principles, providing them with tools and coaching for implementing the process in their own work. This coach conducts workshops and training sessions that teach Agile practices and ceremonies that lead toward the organization-wide adoption of Agile methodologies.
A Technical Coach is a seasoned software developer with a breadth of experience in multiple languages, software delivery disciplines and full systems Agile coaching.
The Technical Coach collaborates with the TL and EL to understand the roadmap for incremental change through each part of the Transformation process along with their desired outcomes. They will develop coaching plans to get teams to their target outcomes.
The Analyst supports the team, providing tactical support for the overall Agile Transformation. They are involved in collecting the metrics used to outline the Transformation from a data-driven perspective.
Scaled Agile Roles
All these coaches’ roles together are about more than teaching people methodology, more than just DevOps, and certainly more than just executive mandates.
If you have nothing but Agile Process coaches, your Transformation will fail.
If you have nothing but Technical Coaches, your Transformation will fail.
If all you have is a Transformation Lead or an Expedition Lead, your Transformation will fail.
Because Transformation should be transformative, and to be Transformed is to Transform the business from top to bottom, in all the ways that people do work across the organization.
To do this, you need a team of coaches with varied skill sets and expertise.