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Enterprise Agile Coaching Competency Framework

For years, Agile Coaching has helped self-organizing and cross-functional agile teams to become great agile teams. As agile way of working has brought good to great results in many startups and individual teams, more and more large Enterprises are realizing that “being agile” is the way to survive and thrive in today’s VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) world. Hence, these organizations are looking extensively for Coaches who can support them to move from traditional way of working to agile way of working. However, the competencies of Agile Coaching that work amazingly at team level or for Startups are not sufficient at Enterprise level.

Enterprise Agile Coaching, along with Agile Coaching competencies like Professional Coaching, includes competencies from different disciplines like Organizational Change, Systems Thinking, Executive and Leadership Coaching, agile Enterprise including agile for functions other than software development like, for Finance, Procurement, Marketing, Operations, Sales, HR etc. It also includes instigating Lean and Agile Mindset at every level in the organization and lead the organization to become a Learning Organization.

Enterprise Agile Coaching is quite a misused term in today’s coaching world. In absence of consistent guidelines regarding how Agile Coaches can grow into Enterprise Agile Coaches by adding the right skills and knowledge from new domains to their existing skills and knowledge, most of the Agile Coaches just start believing and calling themselves as Enterprise Agile Coaches after some years of experience as Agile Coaches. This limits the potential of agile coaches as well as the Enterprise to achieve what they can with the right knowledge and skills.

Enterprise Agile Coaching Competency Framework provides a guidance to Agile Coaches, Agile Leaders and the Enterprise as a whole, regarding the competencies needed to successfully lead and coach Agile Transformation in the Enterprise.

This paper provides the first version of Enterprise Agile Coaching Competency Framework, which will be evolving with feedback from the community using it and upcoming developments in the discipline of Enterprise Agile Coaching.

Overview of the Framework

The Framework consists of 4 quadrants – each quadrant representing a competency in Coaching respectively:

1. Lean-Agile Coaching

2. Professional Coaching

3. Organizational and Systems Coaching

4. Executive and Leadership Coaching

An Enterprise Agile Coach has, ideally, knowledge of all these areas, while might not be an expert in all the areas and works with other Enterprise Agile Coaches with expertise in different areas to lead and coach the Agile Transformation.

Some of the Coaching competencies involve Knowledge Areas – like Lean and Agile for Lean-Agile Coaching and Organizational Change, Systems Thinking and Business Agility for Organizational and Systems Coaching. The Enterprise Agile Coaches must be knowledgeable about these areas and should have relevant experience to develop an expertise in the respective Coaching competency.

Figure: 1

1 Overview of each Coaching Competency

1.1 Lean-Agile Coaching

Lean-Agile Coaching is core to the discipline of Enterprise Agile Coaching. It is based on the knowledge of Lean and Agile Mindset, Values, Principles and Practices. Lean-Agile Coaches not only has the knowledge of Lean and Agile practices but also live and demonstrate Lean and Agile Values in everything they do. After being a role model for Lean and Agile, they become the catalyst for instigating Lean and Agile Mindset, Values and Principles along with the practices in the Enterprise.

1.1.1 Lean

Understanding of Lean Philosophy becomes even more important when we talk about the Enterprise. Learnings from The Toyota Way by Jeffrey Liker, Toyota Kata by Mike Rotherand Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management help to understand the Lean Philosophy which is beyond Lean Manufacturing. Lean is an important Knowledge Area for Enterprise Agile Coaching discipline because of its applicability not only to the teams but also to the Enterprise. Lean concepts including dealing with wastes, limiting Work-In-Progress and leading the organization to Kaizen Culture etc. are helpful in making strategy for Agile Transformation. Lean Product Development Flow as advocated by Don Reinertson and Kanban Method by David Anderson are the adaptation of Lean as applied to Product Development in today’s innovative world. Enterprise Agile Coaching benefits a lot from these as well.

1.1.2 Agile

Agile as driven by its Manifesto, Values and Principles ( applies as much to the Enterprise as to the teams. Knowledge of Agile Frameworks and Practices for small, medium and large enterprises and their applicability based on Agile Values and Principles guides the Enterprise Agile Coaches to assess the current state of the Enterprise and the future steps for the Agile Transformation.

1.2 Professional Coaching

Professional Coaching is another core competency for Enterprise Agile Coaching. Enterprise Agile Coaches work with complete organizations. However, they still need to coach individuals who form these organizations. The Enterprise Agile Coaches create a Coach-Coachee partnership with people who are part of the Agile Transformation and other stakeholders. Professional Coaching is a discipline and a profession in itself with its own professional code of ethics and standards (

1.3 Organizational and Systems Coaching

Organizational Coaching is a competency which aims at cultivating systemic transformation within organizations. Organizational Coaching is the driver for organizational and hence, cultural change in the Enterprise. Since, the Enterprise or an organization is a System in its own, Systems Coaching goes hand in hand with Organizational Coaching. Systems Coaching focuses on working with coachee’s relationship with different systems with the purpose of illuminating and releasing the entanglements in the system. Organizational and Systems Coaching works on the interfaces and the relationships within the Organizational Systems and everyone and everything surrounding it. Organizations like CRR Global ( Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching) and standards and code of ethics for Organizational and Systems Coaching.

1.3.1 Organizational Change

Organizational Change is an important knowledge area for Organizational and Systems Coaches. Great work pioneered by John Kotter in the field of Organizational Change like “Leading Change” and “Accelerate” provides guidance to Enterprise Agile Coaching discipline in leading and coaching Agile Transformation. Organizational Change is not limited to change in process, technology or business but also includes change in culture, leadership and relationship between people at different levels in the Organization. Effectively, it’s not the organizations which transform but the underlying people who run these organizations. Hence, it’s important for Organizational and Systems Coaches to look at it from both perspectives – transforming organizations and transforming individuals.

1.3.2 Systems Thinking

An Enterprise is a System. Hence, it’s important to understand the System Dynamics for everyone involved in an Agile Transformation of the Enterprise. Remarkable work like “Thinking in Systems” by Donella Meadows, The Fifth Discipline by Peter Senge and others, provide the Organizational and Systems Coaches with the understanding of how organizational and human systems work. It’s important for them to look at every engagement from a System’s perspective. Not only this, they bring the awareness of the System to the coachee as well so that the coachee understands his/her interfaces and relationships within and outside the system. Understanding the Leverage Points in a System helps the Organizational and Systems Coaches to use these for the benefit of the Enterprise during an Agile Transformation.

1.3.3 Business Agility

Business agility is the ability of an organisation to adapt quickly to market changes - internally and externally, respond rapidly and flexibly to customer demands, adapt and lead change in a productive and cost-effective way without compromising quality. To become an agile Enterprise, agility is not only limited to technology but also needed for other functions in the Enterprise like, Finance, Procurement, HR, Sales, Operations, Marketing etc. As a part of developing Organizational and Systems Coaching competency, Enterprise Agile Coaches should have the knowledge and relevant experience of applying agility to these functions to ensure agility for the Enterprise and not only for a silo or two. They also need to ensure and communicate to the relevant stakeholders, how these functions, when not agile, can be huge impediments in the way of Agile Transformation.

1.4 Executive and Leadership Coaching

Executive and Leadership Coaching are one of the important competencies for Enterprise Agile Coaches and are the most established expertise in the corporate world. Both the expertise, though separate, have a lot in common. Agile Transformation can only be successful with support from the Leadership and the Executives in the Enterprise. The Executive and Leadership Coaches help the Executives with organizational and management concerns. Hence, they also need to have a strong experience as an Executive themselves or a prior business experience of their own, including a good understanding of the politics at the workplace. Enterprise Agile Coaches with Executive and Leadership Coaching competency help the Executives to transform to Servant Leaders which is the next level move in an Agile Transformation. Coaching can be delivered as one-on-one coaching or in the form of seminars and workshops for specific chosen Executives. Few organizations like standards and code of ethics for Executive and Leadership Coaching.

2 Usage of the Framework

The framework can be used as a tool for self-assessment for Agile Coaches and Enterprise Agile Coaches to determine the level of competency and knowledge areas they have currently and planning for the next level that they want to achieve. This will provide them guidance to determine the competencies and knowledge areas, they want for their career development.

3 Conclusion

The Enterprise Agile Coaching Competency Framework gives a broad overview of the competencies and the corresponding knowledge areas for Enterprise Agile Coaching discipline. For more details regarding every competency and knowledge areas, please refer the sources mentioned in the reference.

4 References

“The Toyota Way”by Jeffrey Liker

“The Toyota Way to Service Excellence: Lean Transformation in Service Organizations”by Jeffrey Liker and Karyn Ross

“The Toyota Way to Lean Leadership: Achieving and Sustaining Excellence through Leadership Development” by Jeffrey Liker and Gary L. Convis

“Toyota Kata: Managing People for Improvement, Adaptiveness and Superior Results” by Mike Rother

“Toyota Kata Culture: Building Organizational Capability and Mindset through Kata Coaching” by Mike Rother and Gerd Aulinger

“The Toyota Kata Practice Guide: Developing Scientific Thinking Skills for Superior Results-in 20 Minutes a Day” by Mike Rother

Taiichi Ohno’s Workplace Management“The Principles of Product Development Flow: Second Generation Lean Product Development” by Don Reinertson

“Kanban: Successful Evolutionary Change for Your Technology Business” by David Anderson

“Leading Change”by John Kotter

"Accelerate: Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World” by John Kotter

“Thinking in Systems: A Primer”by Donella H. Meadows

“The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization” by Peter Senge

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