XING Devblog

Co-active coaching meets Agile

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Author: Alexey Krivitsky

On the last Friday of the summer we ran the 5th meet-up of the Agile Coaching Circle community on the topic of Co-Active Coaching in the Agile Context. Again it was warmly hosted by XING in Hamburg.

Meet-up: Co-Active coaching meets Agile

Meet-up: Co-Active coaching meets Agile

The four previous gatherings were dedicated to the agile topics like: advanced retrospectives (with Marc Löffler), agile coaching culture at Spotify (with Joakim Sundén), #NoEstimates (with Vasco Duarte) – we’ve had a lot of nice agile-focused discussions over the year.

But since the goal of our community is to deepen not only the agile skills but also coaching, this time we decided to dive and see what a pure coaching experience might look like.

We were very lucky to get Hannes Entz von Zerssen (an executive coach and trainer) join us and enlighten us on the mindset and toolbox of professional coaches. And especially the Co-Active Coaching model that Hannes is a seasoned teacher of.

Coaching in action

Demoing a coaching sessions

Coaching power

Explaining how coaching works

After the coaching demo with one of the volunteers we were asked to practice on each other: namely to find a partner and practice coaching dialogs for 20 minutes or so. Despite the fact that coaching was new to some of us and we had just this much time, a number of people confirmed they have gotten interesting insights on the actual problems and found new ways of dealing with them. Coaching is definitely a powerful tool we all can use to help each other on daily basis.

But what about agile coaching?

Later we’ve discussed several burning questions from the audience, one of which was about applying pure coaching view in the context of agile coaching. In fact that is a hot topic. In the context of 1:1 coaching, you (coach) and your client (coachee) have a working agreement (rapport) and the coachee has a coaching request (s)he comes up with. Having the permission to coach, the coach has the right to challenge the client, push for responsible actions, explore the unpleasant unknowns and what-ifs… On the contrary: on the battle field of agile coaching, we (coaches) and our teams (employees of the client) in general are not bound with such coaching agreements. What makes it complicated is that the people who order our services (usually the top management) sends us to fix the situation down there. That makes agile coaching challenging and not always as efficient as it could be: people who we tend to coach (e.g. the agile teams) haven’t requested coaching and also never given permissions to be coached… Some people on the meet-up said that the teams they are working with get constantly annoyed with them asking so many (stupid) questions…

My personal insight from that discussion is that – we (agile coaches), before engaging with the teams, have to explain where we are coming from (our coaching mindset) and hence help the folks start being comfortable with our tooling (the powerful questions). Only then can we start building the rapport and engaging in reach coaching dialogs.

That was enlightening!

It was also refreshing to know that in the Co-Active Coaching, “designing the alliance” is a mandatory part of the model. It is when a coach together with the coachee spends time defining the process, communication protocols and in general agree how to be/interact with each other.

We, working in the context of agile coaching, need to think hard how to include this alliance-designing processes into our coaching.

Despite the fact that coaching is a sort of magic, it can be taught and learned. Know more about the Co-Active Coaching (also in English) or contact Andreas Kömmling who will help you learn more about it.

Interested to attend our next community meet-ups?
Join our group Agile Coaching Circle.

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