What is an Agile Coach?

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Agile is an iterative and incremental approach for the development and delivery of products and services, and organizations are increasingly embracing it to best meet their business needs. An agile coach can increase the chances of a successful agile adoption or improvement. [1] [2]

Some define the agile coach role as “an individual who coaches agile teams” or a similar self-descriptive representation. A more detailed definition along with examples are presented in this article.

Scott M. Graffius defines the agile coach as:

"The individual is an agile expert who provides guidance for new agile implementations as well as existing agile teams. The agile coach is experienced in employing agile techniques in different environments and has successfully run diverse agile projects. The individual builds and maintains relationships with everyone involved, coaches individuals, trains groups, and facilitates interactive workshops. The agile coach is typically from outside the organization, and the role may be temporary or permanent."

The Agile Coach illustration from Exceptional PPM and PMO Solutions
provides additional detail such as guiding principles, focus areas, tools, and activities for agile coaches. (A downloadable, high resolution version of the image is available here.)

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Guiding principles
include collaboration, technical excellence, transparency, continuous improvement, simplicity, fast and frequent delivery, and high satisfaction.

Focus areas include company, division/segment, product, tribe/squad/team, and individuals.

Tools include data collection, visualization, best techniques, feedback, and agile process tools.

Activities include coaching, teaching, facilitating, and mentoring.

If you'd like to learn more about what an agile coach does, a new book provides a
revealing behind-the-scenes account of a successful agile implementation at a global entertainment company. The story is based on actual events and it's told from the author's perspective as an agile coach. Agile Transformation: A Brief Story of How an Entertainment Company Developed New Capabilities and Unlocked Business Agility to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Change (ASIN: B07R9LJLPJ) is available in ebook format from Amazon in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. You're invited to watch the trailer, below.


[1] Dikert, K., Paasivaara, M. & Lassenius, C. (2016). Challenges and Success Factors for Large-Scale Agile Transformations: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Systems and Software, 119, 87-108. DOI::10.1016/j.jss.2016.06.013.

[2] Sureshchandra, K. & Shrinivasavadhani, J. (2008). Moving from Waterfall to Agile. Proceedings from Agile, 2008: AGILE ’08 Conference. Toronto, ON, Canada. DOI: 10.1109/Agile.2008.49.

[3] Graffius, S. M. (2019): Agile Transformation: A Brief Story of How an Entertainment Company Developed New Capabilities and Unlocked Business Agility to Thrive in an Era of Rapid Change. Seattle, WA: Amazon Digital Services. DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.2652976.

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