Tag Archives: hiring people

How to Hire an Agile Coach

Sally, the recruiter, called me up the other day, “Hey Jackson, I’ve got a great opportunity for an Agile Coach!  I saw your resume said Scrum, something-or-other, and you’d be perfect!! How much do you charge per hour?“.  Jackson had been coaching for a few years and was interested to learn a bit more.  “We’ll get to my rate later, Can you tell me more about what this organization is looking for“, probed Jackson.

Sally proclaimed, “it’s a great company to work for, about 350 people, there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about going to Agile, management is 100% fully supportive of it!”.

“That sounds great”, said Jackson, probing a bit further he asked, “can you describe what they are looking for?”

Oh sure,” replied Sally.  “They are looking for an Agile evangelist, someone who can coach executives on how to change their organization, someone who knows how to relate to developers and QA, someone who can mentor all their Project Managers who are now Scrum Masters and somebody who has experience with doing training, empowering self-organizing teams and someone with extensive project management, product management and technical background.  They really need help!

Wow, that sounds like a lot responsibilities, how long have they been ‘doing Agile’?“, a less-than-surprised Jackson said.

Oh, a couple of years, they’re just looking for something to help kickstart them to the next level. It’s a 6 month contract.  What hourly range are you looking for?  They have budget for about $90 an hour“, said Sally.

Interesting“, replied Jackson, “Can you tell me about the structure of the organization, who this coach reports to and what type of work they do?

Sure,” said Sally, “they have a PMO, oh, and you would be reporting into the Senior Manager of the PMO, and they have Scrum teams on the ground who work on their Widget X products, an Ops group, an architecture group, a BA group and a QA group.  You know, the standard Agile stuff.

Sounds like there are lots of handoffs going on based on what you described, I’m guessing they are having some challenges with quality and getting their projects done on time.” , said a concerned Jackson.

Yes, that’s why they’re looking for a coach, someone who can come in and mentor people to help get the quality bar raised.“, said Sally, sounding a little annoyed at all of Jackson’s questions.  “So what’s your rate?  I can setup an interview today if your rate is within their budget.”

Always the curious cat, Jackson agreed to have a call with the company.  “Great!”, exclaimed Sally, “I’ll be in touch!

Does this sound familiar to you?  While I may sound like I’m being a bit snarky towards organizations looking for a coach and recruiters, there’s a whole lot more going on then the words in the fiction-yet-based-on-experiences story above.  I’ll leave that up to you to discuss and I’ll follow up with a more in-depth post later.

Lately I’ve noticed Agile, and Agile Coaches in particular, are getting kicked around on the interwebs.  Everything from the evils of Agile coaching to the hypersensitivity  to tools in Agile.  I’ve seen many tweets about snake-oil salesmen, why nobody but <insert twitter handle here> really gets Agile except me and more.  What seems to be getting lost, IMO, is the Prime Directive: “People are doing the best they can with what they have, which includes skills, training and experience.”  That’s paraphrased of course.  I don’t know any Agile folks I’d consider to be ‘snake-oil’ salesmen.  I know a few that are thought-leaders (well known and not-so-well-known), a few that haven’t figured out how much they don’t know yet and everywhere in between.  The point is, they are doing the best they can with what they know and the skills and experience they have.

So how can you find the right Agile Coach for your organization?  Here’s some tips based on my knowledge and experience.  Your mileage may vary. Continue reading

We Need More Resources…er…People

I noticed a disturbing retrospective note on the team’s whiteboard last week.  Under “not well” was written “not enough resources”.  I quickly crossed out ‘resources’ and wrote ‘people’ above it.  That raised a good chuckle with the team.

I’ve seen this time and again.  There’s too much to do, not enough time to do it, too many priorities, not enough resour…er people to do the work and so on.  This is probably why so many recruitment postings on Linked In and elsewhere have “NEEDED ASAP!!!!!!!” next to them.

What’s really going on?  Is everything really all that hard to do?  Do you really need more people? Continue reading