Why Create The Wheel

At the 2018 Agile Coaching Retreat in London, a collection of coaches came together in an effort to tackle the question “what are the skills needed to successfully coach teams and organizations in Agile?”. 


As the use of Agile has become more and more mainstream the foundational definition of good Agile coaching skills has remained loosely defined and this lack of definition has resulted in unqualified people presenting themselves as Agile Coaches with little experience and low competence. This creates something of a lottery for organizations choosing the right people with the right skills for their needs. 


The London retreat created the first generation of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel, as an effort to address these questions and challenges. 


In 2020 Bob Galen wrote Agile Coaches Need More Than Coaching Skills, which sparked a renewed conversation around what skills are essential to the craft of Agile Coaching. His blog was an implicit challenge to everyone in the Agile Coaching community to think about how we were presenting ourselves, growing ourselves, and helping the next generation of Agilist to be the best they could be.  


Partly in response to Bob’s article, in the Spring of 2021 the Scrum Alliance hosted an Open Space with the question of “what competencies are needed for a successful Agile Coach.” The outcome of the Open Space was the formation of a working group whose goal was to “Professionalize the world of Agile Coaching.” 


Using the  2018 Agile Coaching Growth Wheel as a start they refined it to what you see today.  Our goal is that the Agile Coaching growth wheel lays down the core competencies that allow practitioners to go from good to great through a reflective process with clear guidance to assess their progress.


Where We Came From, On the Shoulders of Giants


In 2011 Lyssa Adkins and Michael Spayd created a competency framework for Agile Coaches. Intentionally this was not a competency model, as it did not define specific behaviors, skills, knowledge, or proficiency levels. The “X-Wing” model, as it is commonly known, is built around the idea of Mastery Areas and a personal coaching stance to act as a guiding star when choosing which of four skills to use: coaching mentoring facilitating and teaching.

For over a decade the Adkins/Spayd model has been the gold standard for defining the skills and competencies of Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. It was the logical place to start from when the 2018 London coaches sought to take it to the next level. 


We can’t thank Lyssa or Michael enough for the work they have done to professionalize the world of Agile Coaching. They have been a constant source of inspiration to all of the volunteers that have worked on this project. 


Recognizing this solid foundation, the contributors of this work believe that more definition is required to further professionalize the world of Agile Coaching and the result is the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel initiative. 


Where are we going? 

Defining the Agile Coaching journey will allow educators, coaches, and leaders to better support the growth of Agile Coaching competencies in individuals by developing learning and development programs and aligning competencies to the formal Agile Coaching certifications that already exist. It will also build confidence in the industry around the future profession of any job roles that involve the use of Agile Coaching skills. We are making it easier for an Agile organization to select the right person for the right job with confidence.


The next step is to complete the Agile Growth Wheel with all nine competencies fully defined and aligned to the skill progression path. Once this is complete the intent is to build out resources that will guide a learner to developing specific competencies to the level they need or desire. 


The Scrum Alliance has committed to using the final Growth Wheel as a foundation for updating its coaching certifications and it is hoped that other Agile and Scrum bodies will recognize the Wheel as a new standard in Agile Coaching and the entire community can step towards professionalizing the world of Agile Coaching.