Coaching with Agility (beyond Agile Coaching)
21 juin 2018

Coaching with Agility (beyond Agile Coaching)par Frédéric Moreau

Can you hear the moaning of your clients telling you how complex and fast changing their business environments have become? When they are looking to remain relevant and to develop in turbulent times, Agility might be a word that come to their ears, as well as yours. If not, stay tuned. Agility is THE new buzzword.  So before people ask you about it, let’s take a moment to demystify what Agility is really about and how it can be applied, starting with why it matters to a professional coach.

Agility is an opportunity for professional coaches in two respects.

First, Agility is increasing the demand for coaching within organizations. Indeed, companies have widely implemented agile methodologies to build software faster and better over the past decade. Today, they are asking their “Agile Coach” – a position which facilitates software development – to go beyond the IT department and to help transform the rest of the company. But only a few’ Agile Coaches have the necessary coaching skills to do so, nor the time to do it even if they could.

Second, leadership agility is about to become a growing phenomenon as companies want to expand from tactical project management to agile business transformation.

A professional coach can ramp up his/her skill set by understanding the Agile perspective with appropriate models and tools, thus catching up with market demand. This is less of an option for the majority of Agile Coaches, who are asked to focus on digital transformation.

What is Agility?

We can define Agility in many different ways. But if we want to step back from project management and consider Agility at the organizational level here’s the one I suggest:

Agility is the capability of a group of humans to anticipate and dynamically adjust to ongoing changes in the business environment in order to reach a common goal for which the meaning is shared.

Agility encompasses three layers:

  • A tactical level; where people execute projects and operations with fluidity in search of value creation and the satisfaction of all stakeholders. This level of Agility is now widely implemented in many Information Technology departments.
  • An organizational level; where people change the way different teams will synchronize and collaborate when required within the organization, including all levels and departments of the company. A few Companies in Montreal like the National Bank of Canada are acting at this level of agility, often with a focus on Culture change.
  • A strategic level; where boards of directors redefine rules of governance including the decision making process, the strategy process as well as the performance system and metrics. This upper layer is not a key topic yet and will most probably be the third wave to hit businesses in the coming years.

How to bring agility into a professional coaching practice?

Considering market demand, leadership agility is by far the most relevant topic to integrate today for a professional coach. Its purpose is to help managers transform from a control & command management style to an agile one, based on democratic and self-management practices that are often referred to as the “servant leadership” approach.

To facilitate this switch, I personally use two main models; the ABCD human performance model and the Agile Profile behavioural agility model.

  • The ABCD model enables us to see performance through 4 lenses:
    • A for Act together – your behaviours in a team
    • B for Being - your personal traits
    • C for Context – your capability to understand your context
    • D for Doing - your technical hard skills             
  • The Agile Profile model is dedicated to the Act together portion of the ABCD model.

By changing our behaviours, we change our outcomes, thus changing our beliefs and our culture in the end. Designed in 2007 to address the needs of Schneider Electric initially, the Agile Profile is based on the assumption that we Sapiens are a performing species because we activate 3 behaviours to survive and grow – we anticipate change, we cooperate on a large scale, and we innovate together thanks to our capacity to imagine things.

Based on this assumption, there are 2 behaviours that we can assess and change within each of these 3 behaviours, one is based on our left “logic-based” brain, the other is based on our right brain, which is more intuitive and emotional. This leaves us with a 6-behaviour model – see reference on agiloa.com

Agility is a mindset first and foremost. Professional coaches can embrace agility to enhance their practice and better help their coachees adjust to their fast-changing and complex environments. No need to turn into an Agile Coach for that!

I’ve been using this approach since 2014 with fantastic results.  I’ll be happy to share some cases on fred@poldigital.com

Frédéric Moreau Agile Enterprise facilitator and trainer