Innovify’s Sharath Adsumillie Explains The Role of a Coach in Hybrid Projects

agile coach

Usually, the role of a coach in any organisation is vital, as he is aware of the transformation needs, implementation of agile practices and scope for improvements. However, what about hybrid projects where the teams have a matrix structure, following a mix of waterfall and agile methods and are just doing agile at times based on the project needs. Clients can at times give least importance to the kind of methodologies that are followed across the projects but look for high value products. These kinds of situations are at times embarrassing and challenging for an agile coach. He needs to ensure that teams are following the best practices to deliver strong features that are of high priority whilst also consistently delivering great value to the end customer. Even though most of their roles and responsibilities are limited to a certain extent, it needs to be rightly balanced. Sometimes they might face heavy resistance from delivery managers who are not very much leaned towards implementing agile practices as their focus is more on delivery. They need to have strong persuasive skills in these situations to tackle the resistance and lean towards more agility.

Performance metrics – Agile vs Waterfall

Measuring work using proper metrics also play a key role to gauge the performance of the teams. In case of hybrid projects, they might be confused at times as to which kind of metrics needs to be implemented. So, they need to ensure that waterfall metrics are also tracked. They need to talk to delivery managers and explain the merits and demerits of agile vs waterfall.

Coach needs to a balancing act between different teams and at the same time needs to ensure that he paves the way for building high performing and self-organised teams. They need to understand the situations at the macro level and able to coach, mentor and counsel teams. Also, training needs to be planned and if possible, create a calendar to avoid any confusion. When teams are facing critical issues in their projects, it is the duty of the coach to ask powerful questions that unleash their thought process and help them work towards resolutions or even avoiding them in the first place in near future. Sometimes mentoring demands more than just coaching.

Coach engagement with Clients

Another key area of observation is the kind of engagement needed with teams and clients. Often delivery managers or project managers show resistance for coaches’ involvement in day to day activities as they are of the opinion that they can better manage the project. Here, the coach can’t do much other than be a mere observer at times and provide suggestions to teams when needed. Ideally a coach should be given free rein to work with any team member in any part of the project so that they can understand their day to day problems. The coach can then go into the root of any issue in great detail and see how best they can coach or mentor them. In this highly competitive world, where business is looking for high value products with great quality and less risk, we still need to evaluate if working in waterfall for hybrid projects make more sense.

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