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Monday, December 4, 2017

Why I am an Agile Coach

As an Agile Coach I need to share my origins and motivations with people so they can understand why I do what I do and we can build the relationships necessary to be successful.

When I first started working in the world of software development I was enamored of the idea that computers would make our lives easier; in addition to that it was just so stinkin' sci fi awesome to be working with computers and networks. Of course this was in the late 80s and early days for personal computers, though not my latent geekiness.

This was around the time when I worked for a "baby Bell" spin off, US West; they were busy creating the first of what has now become the worldwide ATM banking network. Interesting and exciting times for a 20-something girl.

Fast forward to today, 30+ years later and I am now an Agile Coach. Having held nearly every position in software development I have unique experience to aid me in coaching teams in their transformation. I have been in their shoes, or worked closely with someone who has, and can help them see how things can be different as well as what the benefit is to moving toward Agile practices and concepts.

My time as a project manager in particular was illuminating, if also frustrating. You can not pay me enough to go back to the days of spending hours on a MS Project file, with associated Gantt charts, guessing and tweaking those guesses to try to fit all the work into a timeline and budget that were completely out of sync with the ask. And don't even get me started on trying to make those plans work in the real world.

That's what I love about Agile. We don't say 'no', we just say here is how much we can get done with that much money and/or in that time frame. What do you want first? If necessary we may have to ask questions like, 'what can you live without?' But by that time, we should have delivered something that has made our customer happy and the question usually goes down much easier especially since the work in question is probably not something they want anymore anyway.

I believe my time as a wife and parent has also shaped much of my approach as a coach. My negotiation skills, honed over 28 years of marriage, are super useful when I need to get managers to loosen the reins a little bit, which requires that they trust me enough and are willing, and you don't get there with a simple please.

Similarly, many times I have had to stand by and watch teams fail at something because they needed to learn on their own. Early in my coaching, I had much difficulty with that. It's become easier and I believe it helps build much stronger more cohesive teams by allowing them this opportunity.

Getting to meet new people, learn about different cultures (both organizational and geographic), build relationships with people I might never have otherwise interacted with--enriching my life and theirs--are all part of the gig.

I love what I do and I think that makes me better at it too. It's a little like switching a light on for people who have been in the dark for a long time. Seeing their faces light up and the energy flow when they realize how much easier their life has become and how much more joy they have in their day is pretty special.

I truly believe so much of what we teach in Agile is humanity. People first. Work together. Talk. Agree. Compromise. Work hard. Play hard. Have fun. Get stuff done. Spread joy.

That's why I am an Agile Coach.

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