Agile Coach – Give me answers!

I have heard many coaches provide various descriptions and metaphors in answering the question: “What is the Role of the Agile Coach?”. Shepard. Guide. Facilitator. Expediter. Sounding-board. Change-agent. Illuminator?  Mostly I tend to agree with how coaches view themselves and their role. Sometimes, however, I hear things that trouble me. One view that has grown in popularity — but one I simply cannot get behind — is the notion that the role of the coach is to “…help organizations discover new questions to ask”. So is the role of the Agile Coach truly to help identify questions?

Sorry — I’m just not buying it.

Organizations are up to their necks in questions. They have their fill of questions. If they are shelling out the big bucks to bring in a coach — you better have some answers. There is nothing more annoying than a coach who answers any question with yet another question. Just recently I had a conversation with a coach who adamantly believes it is not a coach’s role to “tell” a new Agile team how to do it — the team should figure it out for themselves. This cannot be right. If the idea is for a company or a team to simply “figure it out” then who needs the coach?

Sorry — I’m just not buying it.

Here is what I think: The coach’s job is to provide answers!

The value of the coach lies in his or her ability to assess an environment, leverage current expertize and past experience, and begin contributing instant value by answering the difficult questions (I beg you, please never answer a question with “…it depends”. Everything always “depends”.) I cannot help but believe that the value of the coach lies in the ability to provide the answers – not just questions.

Think about it. Which would you rather pay for?