Project Management

From Agile Practitioner to Agile Coach: A Journey

Ramkumar is an experienced program manager with12+ years of success in leading all phases of diverse technology IT projects in retail, e-commerce, insurance and pharma market research industries.

With agile becoming more of the norm, enterprises that want to be at the forefront of transformation typically focus on an adoption strategy that involves hiring agile practitioners. These hires are expected to create and foster an agile culture by coaching employees who may not have any prior agile experience.

I had an opportunity to lead one of the high-profile enterprise agile product developments in my organization for a U.S. client. It was a multi-year program with more than 60-plus team members distributed geographically across four locations (in India and the United States). The program was highly visible and had tight constraints in terms of budget, time and quality. The client’s engineering teams were slow with adoption and not supported by strong engineering practices; they focused only on the management aspects.

The hope was that my “extreme programming and engineering practices” background would provide a light at the end of the tunnel. Also, since I had spent a considerable amount of time as a practitioner and had attended internal trainings on coaching, my manager was confident about my accrued experience. I took on these challenges one by one—and learned that most coaching involves three simple stages.

Coaching State 1: Assessment
This is where I observed the existing processes and interacted with team members, gauging them …

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If you can't convince them, confuse them.

- Harry Truman