Value of Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches
During a recent discussion in our book club we covered Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches as a side topic. However it is very important from our point of view and deserves a closer look. The base question we often get from our clients is:
If we need to focus on delivering a product, shouldn't we focus all our employees' attention and financial resources on actually developing instead of spending time and money on luxuries like scrum-mastering or coaching?
Let’s strip this question down. The question implies two things.
you need to focus on building the product 100%
coaching / reflecting is a luxury
Implication one - focus 100% on building. While this is generally true there are different interpretations of what 100% focus means. We have seen so often that companies jump head first into coding and coding only because this is the most obvious thing you need to do. However there is more to building a digital product than coding. There are requirements engineering, testing, deployment, development process, maintenance and customer validation to name just some of the basic building blocks. The focus needs to be on all these things.
Implication two - coaching is a luxury. In sports nobody ever doubts that a team or an athlete needs a coach. Not even in kids sports groups - it is simply a given that if you want to perform well as an athlete or team you need to have a coach. Why do we take it as granted that world class teams and athletes have world class coaches? Because coaches are essential for the success of the teams and athletes. They have an outside perspective on the training regime, the tactics during a competition. They act as a mirror and as bad conscious. Coaches give hints and offer ideas on what needs to be changed and support the process of self reflection.
In most sports we even go and change the coach first if something is not going well. If we now take this into software development we believe it is exactly the same thing. The only way to become really good at anything is by practicing day in and day out and any team or individual needs a coach in order to get better and see the reality through a different pair of eyes, get ideas and stimulus and experiences from the outside. In conclusion - an agile coach is not a luxury but a necessity to perform well as a team.