How am I doing as an Agile Coach?

Comparative Agility
4 min readNov 28, 2023

By Mark Summers
Author of the Agile Coaching Personal Improvement Assessment on Comparative Agility.

It can be lonely being an Agile Coach or Scrum Master in an organization. How am I doing? And Where can I improve? These are questions that we may wrestle with. I have known many Agile Coaches who suffer from imposter syndrome, it is therefore essential that we have ways of getting feedback and tools to help us reflect.

It was in 2018 at an Agile Coaching Retreat in London, that I joined a team, looking into this question of ‘How am I doing as an Agile Coach?’. We want to create a tool that would help us, and others reflect and identify areas for improvement.

Inspired by Lyssa Atkins and Michael Spayed’s 2011 competency framework for agile coaches, we laid down the competencies that soon evolved into a wheel. The picture below captures a very early stage in the evolution of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel.

Unlike Lyssa and Michael’s framework, we thought that the profession of agile coaching now needed a deeper definition of what it means to be at different levels of competence. This would allow several things to happen:

● Educators to better support the growth of agile coaches through learning pathways
● Create a baseline for mentors to support the growth of agile coaches and Scrum Masters
● Allow for agile supervision to take place against the model
● Allow agile coaches to self-assess and identify their opportunities for growth
● Help potential clients identify agile coaches who can address their particular need

The Agile Coaching Growth Wheel has continued to evolve over the last five years, driven by practicing agile coaches in the community.

For the last few years, I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Bob Galen on a couple of projects, including his excellent book Extraordinarily BadAss Agile Coaching, which features the growth wheel as a foundational model for the competencies of agile coaching.

I am now pleased to announce a collaboration between myself, Bob, and Comparative Agility to create a personal improvement tool for Agile Coaches and Scrum Masters based on the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel. Okay, this is the second version of the tool; the step change is that you now assess yourself against the different levels of competence. For example, you may be reflecting on the Organizational Change competency in the Transforming segment. One of the questions is about navigating change:

Rate your ability to navigate change, being empirical with safe-to-fail experiments that allow inspection and adaptation.

Then, you rate yourself as a beginner, advanced beginner, practitioner, guide, or catalyst using the guidance. Which level feels right for you?

Beginner — Identify at least three common organizational impediments outside a team’s scope that impact effectiveness.
Advanced Beginner — Demonstrate how an effective approach to change should be flexible and adaptive to different situations. Apply at least two techniques to effect change outside of the team to help them be more productive.
Practitioner — Describe how organizational change impacts people and list three benefits of involving them in the change process. Analyze your approach to a complex intervention that addresses an organizational dysfunction root cause(s).
Guide — Explain various approaches for influencing organizational change by leveraging agile principles. Demonstrate the ability to remove organizational impediments by changing the environment, the culture, or the organizational structure.
Catalyst — Create a tool, technique, or practice that helps navigate change in organizations and share it with others. Mentor people who are leading change initiatives.

We have found that it is best to be fairly harsh with yourself, as it helps to identify blind spots. When you have completed all of the questions, you will be given a summary of how you are doing against each of the competencies and some guidance on how you can grow.

The cool thing is that you can assess yourself several times and track how you are doing over time.

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