Coaches Values and Principles

Note: Work in progress (a challenge to work this)

Since so much of agile and lean operates through values and principles, I decided to start working on some coaching values and principles.


  • Help folks understand the mindset, values and principles, not just the practices
  • Don't feed folks; teach them how to fish.


John Wooden (coach UCLA men’s basketball team) is widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the history of sports. He lays out five basic principles of coaching which can easily be applied to our world

  • Industriousness: All new skills, and all new skills require work.
  • Enthusiasm: When your heart is in your work, and you’re excited about a new way of doing things, it rubs off on everyone around you.
  • Condition: Agile works when every team member is good at what he or she does.
  • Fundamentals: Wooden writes, “the finest system cannot overcome poor execution of the fundamentals. The coach must be certain that he never permits himself to get ‘carried away’ by a complicated system” — and this is especially relevant for an agile coach.
  • Development of team spirit: Self-organization, whole team, energized work, and empowering the team. From Wooden “The coach must use every bit of psychology at his command and use every available method to develop a fine team spirit on his squad. Teamwork and unselfishness must be encouraged at every opportunity, and each [team member] must be eager, not just willing, to sacrifice personal glory for the welfare of the team. Selfishness, envy, egotism, and criticism of each other can crush team spirit and ruin the potential of any team. The coach must be aware of this and constantly alert to prevent such traits by catching them at the source before trouble develops.”

Coaching Philosophy

  • Work ourselves out of a job
  • Got to the “Gemba”
  • Be the servant leader
  • Its not “it depends” – state approach as well as pros and cons
  • Coach with humility
  • You cannot change more than your customer wants to change
  • Plan – Do – Check – Act (PDCA)
  • Constantly refer to the agile, SAFe, etc mindset we want

What Does an Agile Coach Do?


  • Coaches provide formal and one-on-one agile training to any member of a delivery team. They craft industry knowledge to the context of an organization and team. They promote collaboration for diversity in thinking.


  • Coaches share previous professional experience in context.


  • Guide the teams and individuals through ceremonies. Usually low touch, letting them go through the works.


  • At an individual level and at a team level.
  • Help teams and individuals to achieve high performance by embracing Lean-Agile mindset and practices.

  What does a coach not do?

  • It doesn't solve problems.
  • It doesn't act as a secretary setting up meetings for the teams.
  • Do not take ownership of project deliverables. The team stays accountable and responsible for meeting goals and objectives

  Coaching Cycle

Typical cycle of an agile coach is 6 months. The first three months are high engagement and last three are low engagement. Coaches start a client with a high engagement and cycle off with a decreasing engagement. Let's use the agile adoption curve.

We walk them through

  • Peak of expectation
  • Trough of disillusionment
  • Slope of enlightenment
  • Outcome of enhanced productivity

Why Hire A Coach?

Some ideas:

  • Experience. In particular, not because coaches are any smarter.
  • Outsiders help bring perspective “You can't be a sage in your own village”
  • Enthusiasm. Help overcome organizational inertia

Outcome from Coaches Perspective

Be a trusted advisor Be out of that job

In particular we are trying to avoid “If you are not part of the solution there is plenty of money to be made in prolonging the problem”.

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  • coaching_values_and_principles.txt
  • Last modified: 2018/03/12 09:49
  • by hpsamios