A few years ago, I heard a talk comparing successful agile teams to great soccer teams. The teamwork, collaboration and willingness to come out of your “zone” to help the team was an interesting, if not cliché, parallel.
But one obvious parallel that was omitted was the impact of a good coach.
Just like on a soccer team, a good agile coach can be a big influence, especially on the success of a team transformation. Adopting agile practices challenges a lot of tightly-held beliefs, which instills fear in a lot of people. Without appropriate guidance from a seasoned practitioner, the team can flounder and may go backward more than forward.
Of course, we all know that hiring an agile coach does not guarantee success.
My teams have gone through a few agile coaches. Like David Beckham teaching a bunch of 4 year olds, the coaches’ efforts were wasted on a team unwilling to listen. The desire to learn new skills, a passion for success, and a willingness to work hard, did not exist in each person on the team. Even the best coach can’t transform a team unwilling to change.
So while the teams may have been hopeless, the coaches did not give up on the team members. They tried to see the potential in each person while battling a frustrating situation. That is the transformative power of a great coach - to impact the lives on the team even if you don’t win a game.
* Matt Barcomb is an agile coach that I admire and I couldn’t resist the play on words with the soccer movie title, Bend It Like Beckham. BTW...great movie about finding the courage to follow your own passions! J