In October of 2018 I realized that I wanted to make a larger impact on the Agile Community. Working with a coach of my own, I determined that I could make a more powerful contribution to agility by shifting my focus away from the full time work I was doing with my clients. Instead, I believed that if I were to invest my talent and experience focusing on the next generation of agile coaches, I would help develop an army of powerful coaches and release them into the community with stronger skills and coaching mindset. Done well, the multiplication factor will have the power to create more impact than I can ever create on my own.
This meant that I had to truly live what I had been teaching my clients about testing assumptions, experimenting with MVPs (see: Lean Start Up definition) to get feedback on what problems the industry needed solved and how I might be part of that solution. I also had to trust that if the Agile Community really needed my contributions I would not have to fear walking away from guaranteed income because the community would support me as I invested myself into the success in others.
My vision for this next journey of my career is simple: To make training and development resources available to the agile community at a price point that anyone can afford, even when they do not have an employer reimbursement option.
Some of the things I’ve been working on and experimenting with as I try to understand the needs of the Agile Community of coaches have been wildly successful. Other experiments told me that I either didn’t have the passion to continue an idea or that the solution I was testing wasn’t the solution the market needs for the problem it is trying to solve.
Experiment #1: Path to Coaching Videos
One of the most successful investments I have conducted in this past year has been the Scrum Alliance Labs Path to Coaching video training course. In partnership with Scrum Alliance and the community of Certified Enterprise Coaches, Certified Team Coaches, Certified Scrum Professionals and even a Professional Scrum Trainer an experiment was launched in January 2019 that contained over 80 training videos housed in five modules: Professional Coaching, Coaching Systems, Coaching Scaling, Coaching Sustainability, Coaching Leaders. This free video training was released with only raw, unedited videos to gauge if there was an interest in this type of education. The response has been tremendous! At the time of this writing, just under 3,000 people have registered for the course. Many are working through the learning modules and have joined the slack community to collaborate globally. Feedback on this course has resulted in an NPS score that rivals the iPhone. This data point is mind blowing to all involved in the creation of this resource.
Since the response from the community has been so positive we are now creating a cleaner version of the course and developing a complete online learning experience in the Tier 2 Expanded Version product offering. Module 1, our most popular module in the Tier 1 release is available publicly for only $75 and adds a complete learning experience with exercises, quizzes, and other learning activities that support the videos. Module 5 (yes 5), our second most popular module in the series, will be released by the end of the year and should be priced at roughly $50. Module 2 is targeted for the end of Q1 2020. Module 3 and 4 are expected to release at the ends of Q3 and Q4 respectively.
Experiment #2: Path to Coaching Mentor Program
Along with the Path to Coaching videos there is a vision that Certified Agile Coaches will start mentoring programs to multiply the investment being made into agile coaches all over the world. At the time of this writing there are twelve mentoring programs running around the world. More coaches are in the process of starting efforts and we hope to have at least twenty programs running by the end of 2019.
My own Path to Coaching Mentoring Program has been through a series of experiments with multiple cohorts and I am enjoying the opportunity to interact with people around the world investing into their careers. My program is undergoing a massive overhaul with a new series of experiments that I will begin running in January 2020.
Experiment #3: Online, Self-Paced, Blended Learning/Live Mentoring for A-CSM and CSP-SM courses
In April 2019, I released an experiment with the A-CSM and created an experimental version of this product as an online offering so people could work at their own pace. This experiment is in alignment with my vision because it reduces the cost of training and travel involved in these certification classes. It elongates the learning and allows me to add much deeper work since it is self paced. It also creates the ability to impact more people since they can join at any time. Thus, no critical mass needed to start learning!
The A-CSM experiment was successful and had more interest than my previous offerings of live classes so I knew I was moving in the right direction. Thus, I created the CSP-SM course in the same format and released this into an experimental phase in early October 2019.
My plan is to improve these offerings by replacing some of the learning that refers out to community resources by creating new videos and resource content in 2020. Plans for the A-CSPO and CSPO-SM are the works. These should enter into experimental phase in Q1 and Q2 of 2020.
Experiment #4: ICF Professional Coach Training
I have been experimenting with ICF Professional Coach Training courses that are primarily focused on people in agile careers. This training is intended to dig deeply into the ICF Core Coaching Competencies to equip agile coaches, scrum masters, managers, and others with the essential professional coaching skills they need to create a coaching culture in their workplace and to develop a coaching mindset for themselves.
This program is the very first ICF ACTP (Accredited Coach Training Program) in the agile space. It also qualifies for ACSTH (Accredited Coach Specific Training Hours). My experimental and learning phase of this offering is in partnership with one of the Coach Training Schools I attended and whom I credit with the strength of my coaching foundation: Coaching4Today’s Leaders. This school graciously accepted me as a staff member a few years ago and I began training their curriculum and learned to be an ICF Mentor coach. After doing this for two years I created and launched a new program “Coaching in Agile Environments” that is focused on professional coaching skills for people in agile careers.
What’s special about this program is that it fits directly into my vision to make excellent training available at a price point that is affordable. Because of the way I designed this program I am able to offer it for roughly 50% of the cost that other coaching schools charge. First, this training is delivered via live weekly 2 hour sessions. This removes the cost of travel and overhead of facilities. It also creates the built in ability to learn and have supervised practice with feedback to gain competency over several months. In person programs generally teach you a bucket of skills over 3-5 days and then have a “certification” process (several months for an additional hefty cost) where competency is built. I combined the two so that when training is complete, necessary competency should also be gained.
The next iteration for this program is to have it certified with ICF as an independent course with Tandem Coaching Academy.
I’m writing this post for a few reasons. First, to help people who are wanting to make a career change or start up their own company see that what we must live by the same principles we teach our clients. We can’t expect them to experiment, learn from failure, and make adjustments based upon customer feedback along the way unless we model the same to them. Our ability to model these concepts are the proof of whether we actually believe them experientially or if we just teach them based on some knowledge we gained in a book.
Secondly, I want to say, “Thank you!” to the Agile Community for your partnership in the experiments I’ve been trying (not all are listed here) and your patience when I put something out for testing and determine to stop the experiment as a learning event.
It is my desire to serve this community with the knowledge, skills, experience, and expertise I have developed over years of learning through success and failure. My hope is that my ceiling will be your floor.