Agile Mishap #4: Incompetent Coaches and Trainers

Explore how the prevalence of incompetent coaches and trainers hampers Agile adoption, uncovering the reasons behind this pervasive issue. We shed light on the challenges organisations face in navigating the complexities of Agile transformation. From the commodification of Agile to the misinterpretation of confidence as competence.
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In the journey to understand what went wrong with Agile, we must confront a critical issue plaguing its implementation: the prevalence of incompetent coaches and trainers. These individuals, entrusted with guiding organisations through Agile transformations, often lack the necessary expertise and experience to drive meaningful change. As we delve into this mishap, it’s essential to explore why this phenomenon persists and its detrimental impact on Agile adoption.

This is the fifth blog post in the series. If you are a new reader, I suggest you start from the beginning: What Went Wrong With Agile? and take it from there.

According to the State of Agile Coaching Report 2021, a staggering 86% of those identifying themselves as Agile Coaches hold Agile certifications. However, only 19% possess a master-level certification in Agile coaching. This statistic unveils a troubling reality – four out of five Agile coaches are amateurs! But why is this the case?

One hypothesis points towards the commodification of Agile. As discussed in Agile Mishap #1: Do It By The Book!, traditional consultants often see Agile as a lucrative business opportunity. Lacking personal experience with Agile, they erroneously believe that traditional project management approaches suffice for its implementation. However, the intricate dynamics of organisational change render such approaches ineffective.

Another hypothesis suggests a misinterpretation of confidence as competence. Drawing parallels to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic’s exploration in Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?, individuals with unwarranted confidence, coupled with narcissistic tendencies, often overshadow their lack of proficiency. This phenomenon leads organisations to gravitate towards individuals exuding confidence, regardless of their actual competence in Agile coaching.

A third hypothesis highlights the challenge of discerning between competent and incompetent Agile coaches. Customers, particularly those insourcing Agile coaches, often struggle to differentiate between the two. Consequently, price becomes the determining factor in hiring decisions, resulting in the selection of coaches based on cost rather than competence. Hiring an Agile coach should be considered an investment and measured against its outcome, not its cost!

Building upon the previous hypothesis, a fourth perspective delves into the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Agile coaches boasting about their abilities may, in fact, be unaware of their own incompetence. By replacing one form of “Agile bullshit” with another, they perpetuate misguided practices under the guise of expertise.

Additionally, many Agile trainers have spent years solely lecturing about Agile without recent hands-on experience themselves. This detachment from practical application further diminishes their effectiveness in guiding organisations through Agile transformations leading to a rather dogmatic approach with unproven promises.

In conclusion, the prevalence of incompetent coaches and trainers poses a significant obstacle to successful Agile implementation. As organisations navigate the complexities of Agile adoption, it’s imperative to scrutinise the credentials and capabilities of those entrusted with facilitating this journey. Only through a concerted effort to elevate the standards of Agile coaching can we mitigate the detrimental effects of incompetence and foster genuine Agile transformation.

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Mount Stupid - the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

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Agile Mishap #4: Incompetent Coaches and Trainers

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