Last week I conducted webinar on “Role of an Agile Coach”, In this session, I introduced Agile Coaching to community, I got good number participants asking questions like
- How can someone add value by just asking questions?
- How can a person save his job by not providing solutions?
- Is it expected that a coach should have solutions/clarity for all the problems?
We are hardwired for telling solutions, say if I share that I find difficulty in getting up at 6 AM in the morning, what is the first thing come in your mind, a piece of advice, a solution, do you think I do not know the solution which is coming in your mind?
The problem with telling is, we think we are adding value whereas we are not even listening to the person. When the person has to act on the solution, don’t you think he should be part of solution finding process. What about an alternative approach of asking questions to facilitate the thinking process. Coach assists coachee by providing structure and tool to think about the solution.
Let us look at the second dilemma, if coachee is solving the problem why he will come to coach again, coachee or sponsor may fire coach.
Here I share my story of working with two dieticians. I was facing issue with my cholesterol, and I met one dietician named Savita (name changed). I showed my reports to Savita and she started advising, stop eating junk food, not to take more than two tablespoons of sugar in a day.Finally, she handed over diet plan to control my calories intake. I looked at the diet plan and tried to follow it for few days. Things written in the plan were not looking practical to me, and I gave up. I shared this with my friend, and he suggested me to meet another dietician Kavita.
Kavita looked at my reports, and she started asking questions related to my current diet. Kavita calculated the calories intake and shared facts related to my various food choices. Kavita asked me what can I do to fix my eating habit. I thought of few options; she calculated calories for these options. Finally, we found one workable diet plan. She handed over one chart which works as calories calculator so I can do adjustments in my diet if needed, she asked me to connect again for the review and discuss learning. I liked her approach and recommended many people to her. Which approach do you think brings long lasting results and solutions?
Agile Coaches are expected to teach coachees Agile values and principles and improve thinking process of coachee , coach show things which coachee may not be able to see himself, and coach believes in coachees capability to find best solution for the given context. Agile Coach facilitates the discovery of solution rather than providing a solution.
What’s wrong with directly giving a solution?
- People do not accept it since they find it imposing.
- People see a lot of shortcoming in it.
- Hardly any solution work as it is, people will not make it work.
- It creates dependency on Coach, it only works until the time Coach was here.
- It does not grow Coachee in taking the next step in Agile journey.
Coaching does expect coachee knows details of their problem and solutions. If the coachee is not aware of the subject, initial training will be needed. During training, the Agile Coach may end up telling like dietician was telling calories composition of food intakes. Professional coaching is bit different, in professional coaching, the coach may not even know calories calculation he just facilitates the thinking and coachee do all the work.
What is your view? Can you move your team by improving their thinking process?