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3 Ways Agile Coaches Use Technology To Improve Teaching Techniques, Cater To Client Needs, And Reach A Global Audience

Michael de la Maza

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I am one of only 100 Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise coaches in the entire world.

That means, if every country in the world sought out one single certified enterprise agile coach, there still wouldn’t be enough of us to fill that need. Now consider how many companies are based in a single country, multiply that by the number of countries in the world (apparently there are 195), and you start to realize the dilemma agile coaches face: how do we effectively scale ourselves?

The answer is simple: technology.  

Advancements such as video conference calls, simple as they may be, have allowed us coaches the ability (and, quite frankly, the luxury) of scaling our services, streamlining client sessions, and expanding our reach across the globe. And personally, I strive to work with as many amazing clients as possible, regardless of their location (or sometimes, even their means), which is why I look to technology for different levels of accessibility.

For example, in addition to working with major corporations or heavily-funded startups in person, I also provide online training courses at a lower price point in order to serve a wider range of companies. This exposes people to agile who may want the education, but don’t work for a corporate entity that has a budget to spend on daily in-person sessions.

And in turn, by expanding my reach, I’m able to diversify my professional experience—which only improves the skills and industry awareness I bring to the table during each in-person session.

Here are a few examples of how technology’s progression has improved the way agile coaches are able to scale their expertise across a wide variety of clients:

1. Virtual Reality makes it possible to provide immersive experiences from anywhere in the world.  

VR may be the only tool that supplants actual practice.

The heightened learning experience that comes from an in-person workshop is very difficult to re-create through a website or even a video course. That’s because in-person workshopping provides feedback, and feedback is how human beings ultimately learn what’s working and what isn’t in real time. With Virtual Reality, however, those feedback loops can be constructed and scaled in a way that feels nearly identical to an in-person workshop, while simultaneously customizing the experience specifically for the individual user.

For example, I’ll sometimes coach agile sessions and film the crowd with a 360 camera. Afterward, I’ll go back and study the footage, zooming in on individual faces during key moments to gauge reactions and then provide even more personalized feedback to the speaker.

I can see immediately what worked and what didn’t.

To streamline my own internal workshopping, I also use Virtual Speech, a VR company that places you in a digital auditorium to practice your public speaking. These are tools and practices I’ve found to be tremendously productive, in the sense that you can run through only the part of a presentation that needs work—unlike in a real session where you’d need to run from start to finish to test the new section.

So, instead of spending 99% of your time rehearsing material you’ve already mastered, and 1% of the time re-working your weak points, VR provides the opportunity to spend 100% of your time on tweaking what needs refinement.   

2. On-site materials can be “scaled” by using technology platforms that can be accessed from anywhere.

Having Ready Materials On-Site Makes Coaching Sessions More Effective

The greatest tool in my arsenal is a technology platform called Mind Settlers.

This is an extensive library of crowdsourced, actionable ideas and exercises that offer agile coaches a way to improve (and scale) the way they work with teams. For example, instead of having to reconstruct exercises from scratch for each individual coaching client or team, I can pull from a curated selection through the Mind Settlers technology platform that caters to the specific needs within that particular company.

For example, I may be ready to talk about “goal alignment,” but the team wants to discuss “connection.” Part of the mindset in agile coaching is being able to adjust on the fly, while still maintaining a clear focus on the underlying issues that need to be resolved within each team.

So the benefit of technology here is that, as a coach, I can trust that plenty of exercises will be available to me regardless of the topic area, which allows me to spend more time and energy bringing my own expertise to the situation.

Especially when you’re working with so many different teams and companies, these little adjustments that save time really do add up.

3. Online resources are how you’re able to work with parts of the world you would otherwise never reach.

I constantly ask myself how many people I help every day.

But in the realm of agile coaching, one of the only ways to truly “scale” this desire to work with and help as many people as possible is to work with major corporations or large-scale teams in person. I’ll frequently go into companies of hundreds, if not thousands of employees, and work across departments to streamline processes, improve communication, and ultimately increase employee connection and fulfillment. But even still, the amount of time, money, and energy required to fly to a company’s headquarters and stay for months  (or more) isn’t very realistic for a large sector of the general population. Especially considering the overwhelming majority of businesses in the U.S., but also the world, are small businesses.

So, I look to other technology platforms to expand my reach and continue spreading my knowledge—even if the reader, listener, or customer doesn’t fall within that Fortune 500 group.

Specifically, I look to do this through digital publications and social media platforms. For example, this article here is essentially a “free resource” specific to the agile world—which people from all over the world could read for free. LinkedIn is another great example, and I’ll often use that platform as a way to digitally expand my own personal network through sharing helpful articles like this one, sharing thoughts or tips in the form of status updates, and sending connection requests to people I feel like would benefit from some of the lessons I’ve learned “in the trenches.”

Essentially, in all the ways technology makes agile coaching easier, it also makes it more accessible. And since reaching the greatest number of people possible is my goal as a coach in the first place, it would be impossible to live that mission while solely basing my success off in-person coaching.

Which is why I invest in sharing assets like this article here, with you.

Co-founder, DemingWay.com. We help people learn agile more effectively and at a lower cost. Previously VP of Corporate Strategy at Softricity (acquired by Microsoft in 2006) and co-founder of Inquira (acquired by Oracle in 2011).

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