Agile Coaching Values Explained

In a previous post, we outlined 4 Agile Coaching values and 8 related and supporting principles.

Mandated practices may prevent a rapid and lasting Agile adoption, by reducing feelings of control and belonging in the very people who do the work.

Embedded coaches present 5 days a week often prevent teams from taking up their authority to lead in the creation of their own Agile practices and processes.

Here is a bit more detail on the 4 values and 8 principles, for your consideration. You are invited to consider this detail and how it might apply to your own Agile work as a coach, client, or team member.

These Agile coaching values were authored by the following professional coaches in the Greater Boston area (listed alphabetical by last name):


4 Agile Coaching Values


Creating Independence over generating billing

Coaches are often drafted into the role of “authority in chief” and with that comes the risk of substantial client dependence. Coaches value creating client independence and client self-sufficiency over all other considerations.

Championing Learning over avoiding risk

Continuous learning is destabilizing to existing culture. Questioning long-help assumptions can be risky in an organization that values stability over learning. Agile coaches value the building of a capacity of continuous learning in the orgs they serve. This includes encouraging the client to identify, expect and manage the many risks of genuine organizational learning

Building Relationships over building transactions

Agile coaching is a very lucrative profession. Coaches have creditors like everyone else. The development of relationship with the people in the client organization must take precedence over financial considerations if the coaching is to be effective and lasting.

Inviting Participation over assigning responsibility

Assigning responsibility without authority is a recipe for failure in any attempted adoption of Agile methods. Instead of a command and a prescription, the people closest to the work must play a part in designing the solution. Agile coaches encourage formally authorized leaders to avoid mandating participation in prescribed Agile practices. Agile coaches encourage leadership to invite the people who do the work to participate directly in the design and implementation of any move to Agile and Agile practices.


8 Agile Coaching Principles

We use these Principles to guide our work with clients:


Voluntary engagement of everyone involved in organizational change is an essential requirement for success.

Mandating an Agile practice is the same as mandating collaboration. This is a contradiction of terms and is also contrary to the letter and spirit of the Agile Manifesto values and principles


Coaching every single day in an organization creates a serious risk of client dependency and is to be avoided, consistent with common sense and good judgement with respect to client needs.

Dependency on the Agile coach is harmful to coach and client and is to be avoided at all costs. Occupying the Scrum Master role of Scrum for an indefinite period of time is not coaching and reduces the learning capacity of the client organization.


Organizations are responsible for their own learning. Arms-length, time-boxed working agreements between clients and coaches are essential.

Coaches and clients work best together when they agree to a time-boxed structure for executing on coaching. Teams and entire organizations take more responsibility for learning when they know the teacher is not available for an indefinite period of time.

Coaches must look for every opportunity to increase the learning of the organization as a whole, with strong intent to vacate or otherwise evolve the current coaching role as soon as possible.

Coaches and clients work best together when it is understood that the coach’s role will change and that the intent of the coach is to vacate as soon as possible. The promise of Agile is served when client organizations can routinely reach a state of self-sustaining, “freestanding” agility.

Coaching requires the willingness to identify any cultural impediments to continuous improvement, and to communicate these to the people in the organization who have the authority to address them.

Agile is Trojan horse for bringing in a substantial change in culture. Coaches have an obligation to see to it that leaders occupying roles highly authorized roles commit to using their authority to remove cultural impediments to rapid and lasting agility.

The primary task of a coach is to help improve the effective results and working lives of the people employed in the organizations they serve.

Agile practices create engagement and good results–  in part by putting decision-making authority in the hands of the people who do the work. Agile coaches encourage leaders to make this happen.

The ability of an organization to respond to change is the primary measure of progress.

Agile coaches are in the business of teaching and encouraging practices that lead to adaptability and the ability to handle rapid change. Agile coaches teach entire organizations how to learn, and adapt—without the ongoing need for the presence an external authority named ‘coach’

Leaders in an organization must continuously signal positive encouragement, and create safe space for others to think and learn, if positive culture change is to be lasting and effective.

Agile coaches are obligated to teach organizational leaders how to best create an environment that is open and safe for experimentation and the learning that comes from that.