To quote Geoff Watts:
“Almost daily, I get requests from organisations looking for Agile coaches. But I don’t know whether they know what they are asking for. And there are not that many people that I know who are qualified in both Agile and coaching that I can recommend. In my opinion, the lack of experience and knowledge is significantly slowing down and reducing the quality of Agile transformations”.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential”. Being an ICF PPC accredited executive coach and having presented the only ICF Coach for Innovators Certified Program™ globally for the past 5 years, I am astounded by the number of organisations currently employing people “Agile coaches.”
Without mincing words, according to our definition of coaching these are really “agile consultants” who I am sure are capable and competent in their field of expertise, though perhaps rarely in real coaching.
“While consulting approaches vary widely, the assumption is the consultant will diagnose problems and prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions. With coaching, the assumption is that individuals or teams can generate their own solutions, with the coach supplying supportive, discovery-based approaches and frameworks”.
What is problematic is that most agile coaches don’t know how to operate like coaches for innovation, ie,coaches who know how to be present to see and respond to complex adaptive systems and the unexpected and the unplanned (complexity and chaos).
Who know how to shift their own way and the ways of those they are working with; being (intrinsic motivators, traits, mindsets and moods), thinking (design, critical and creative) and doing (adapting and collaborating, attending and observing, listening, inquiring and debating, networking and teaming, experimenting and risk taking) to;
- Provocate and safely disrupt the status quo
- Emerge possibilities and opportunities
- Generate discovery through deep inquiry, listening and debating skills
- Make decisions, and
- See and solve problems generatively.
If your organisation truly wants to build your people’s innovation capabilities to effect profound change and business transformation, you would be wiser to invest in ethical, ICF accredited programs that offer both thought-provoking, creative, collaborative, generative and agile processes that will inspire your people, and your teams to maximise their personal and professional innovation potential to advance their careers and deliver your desired organisational outcomes.
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Written for Hargraves by our partner:
Janet Sernack, Innovation People Leader, Consultant and Coach, ImagineNation.