If you go sightseeing, a specialist travel guide might be helpful. Especially if, like a good agile guy should do, you are going to the mountains. But I won’t talk about such persons, not today.
Not long ago, I was introducing you to the HEART, the true essence of the agile (“Sorry, humility? Humility did you say? Oh yes! That’s where I am number 1… just like in everything else ») with only 3 principles.
This way of breaking down Agile reveals new angles of approach and highlights the necessity of the role played by a specialist agile guide.
For example, the principles of proactivity and persons require some precise conditions and this guiding role we are going to talk about in this blog could become the guarantor for their presence.
Provide protection, power, and permission…
First, proactivity requires courage. Turning every situation into an opportunity demands efforts, involvement, and a responsibility commitment. Thus, it requires a number of permissions to be set up, so that the needed actions to become proactive can be done.
And to feel perfectly reassured about our ability to perform these actions, we need means. Some would talk about power. As the first principle, the one that explains setting up a software is a complex problem, implies that we cannot really anticipate the result of our actions, we’ll be obviously missing things. These failures are normal and needn’t either to be turned against the persons who performed the actions or used against them. Therefore, a number of protections are needed to be set up.
Protection, Power, Permission… You have certainly seen where I was heading. It is all about the famous therapeutic triangle, sometimes just called 3Ps.
The responsibility of providing the 3Ps could be assigned to a specific role in the organizations in charge of the setting up of an IT product.
Extend the field of possibilities
Proactivity also requires a true freedom of choice. It goes further than simple permission. You can only choose from a number of possibilities. The wider is the range of possibilities, the more we can exercise our freedom to choose, the bigger are our chances to find a way to be proactive. Helping people broad the scope of what is possible might as well be some accountability from the role we just had an idea of. It would be all about showing new ways, helping the emergence of alternatives, etc.
Ensure a propitious frame
Even the principle of persons requires some conditions to be set up. People are making the best choices (as said above, they must be given the broadest conceivable range of possibilities to choose from) if they are under good conditions to do so. Their basic psychological needs (see Transactional Analysis) have to be met so that people can devote themselves fully to their tasks. Other needs have to be fulfilled to ensure the required motivation to carry out their tasks and disturbing elements have to be kept apart as much as possible. Anyway, we need to guarantee a propitious frame for the persons principle to be exercised.
To ensure the 3Ps, the person that plays the role we just thought of, will have to adopt various postures. To ensure the power, this person will possibly teach new abilities and new skills and new social ones. So, he or she will be a trainer. In order to give the required permissions, he or she will possibly move into a coaching or mentoring stance. In order to create the propitious environment for the 3 principles of the HEART to be applied, this person will possibly wear many hats: expert, consultant… He or she will provide practices, recommendations, and advice to follow, in order to create the good conditions described above and ensure the protection needed by the proactivity, the state we keep talking about again and again.
Since the name has already been laid down…
You have probably understood for a long time that this role is the one of agile coach (yes, I do what I can to have you believe I’m useful^^). We could further delve into the accountabilities that the HEART (or even the original Agile Manifesto, which is, as we’ve seen, a detailed version of the HEART) implies. For example, we could highlight the fact that proactivity leads to having to think more often in terms of solutions than in terms of problems to be overcome. Coaching techniques dedicated to this new paradigm have been created (solution-focused therapy, etc.), but thanks to the HEART statement, it’s easier to join the dots between the theory of the coach and his tools on the one hand, and Agile as imagined in 2001 when the Manifesto was drafted on the other hand. The new light provided by the HEART on the agile contributes to a better understanding of the reflections that shaped the role as we know it today. Although the interest of know-how and social skills described everywhere was well understood, maybe understanding the origin of their development was not so easy.
Besides, it should be noted that the name of this role is probably poorly chosen. Indeed, we have seen that an agile coach is not just a coach. He must adopt other postures. But now that customers are looking for « agile coaches », it will be hard to market oneself as a « HEART protector ». Too bad, because this guardian angel side was flattering my ego so well…
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