Luis Goncalves
Last updated on | Agile Coaching/Team Coaching

What Industry do I belong to as Agile Coach?

by Luís Gonçalves

Today I want to write about something that most of you might think it´s strange or might not agree, frustrating time but then again this is a personal blog, right? This is the space where I can write about whatever I want to without asking for permission, and today I am kind of sensitive about a lot of things that are going on around me.

We as an Agile Coachesfrustrated time to time, it´s not an easy job, we need to help teams, scrum masters, middle management and senior management (at least some of us). Sometimes we are not successful in communicating our ideas in the best possible way and we are not taken serious, as an outcome we observe companies´ decisions being made in a very “strange” way and then we need to clean up the mess left behind.

Most of the time this does not motivate us at all because all the mess that must be cleaned could be avoided if people would have listened us. In some cases the problems were so predictable that I´d talk with couple of colleagues and we´d write down the problems that would occur and we´d seal them in an envelope. After few months we would open it just to confirm what we wrote few months ago ;).

VERY IMPORTANT: make sure that you open the envelope after having couple of beers. It´s a great feeling to confirm that you were right, but with few beers that feeling is multiplied by 10x 😀 try it out 🙂

So the whole point is how can we keep ourselves to be motivated to do a great job in our daily life as Agile Coaches?

This question leads me to ask another question:

“In which industry are you working as Agile Coach?” Take a minute and think about this… Are you in software industry or in manufacturing industry? Or ask yourself: “What does an Agile Coach do?” (I get this question frequently)

Few weeks ago I spent Christmas time in Portugal with my family and I had the opportunity to get couple of days off from everything. I thought a lot about my life and my career and I truly asked myself: “What do I do in life” and “How do I keep myself motivated to face the daily job”?

The answer was very simple, but it took me several years to reach this point and be able to understand the meaning of it.

“I am in the business of helping others to become better, to find the small things they are proud of and multiply it by 10X”

I am not in the software industry like many people see themselves. I do this job to help people to become better and this is what makes me to get up in the morning and go to the office.

Our job as Agile Coaches is not to help organisations to become better, our job is not to help organisations to become more effective and efficient, our job is not to help organisations how to become profitable.

WE CANNOT HELP ORGANISATIONS!!!

You can help people, animals, plants, etc. But you cannot help an organisation. Organisations do not breathe, do not eat, do not sleep! They are abstract “things” that not have life so we cannot help them. A profitable organisation is the “outcome” of our work but never our work itself.

Our job is to help people, and we know we did it when you leave jobs and people tell you:

“I will never forget you because of what you taught me and how you helped me to do a great job”
“You changed my life for the better”
“You inspired in pursuing my dreams and ambition”

When you listen to something like this, then you know that you did your job and you know that you have a reason to get up in the morning and go to work!

I am so serious about this idea (helping people) that sometimes you can think of actually talking with your network outside of your work and help people with finding a place where they feel better if they are struggling in the current job (fortunately I work in a company where I try bringing people in and not the other way around).

So what will you say next time people ask you “what do you do for living?” Are you going to say that you work as an Agile Coach and you work in software industry? Or you simply will say that you are in the business of helping people in becoming better persons?

“Help people and they will help you back”

All the best,
Luis

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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalves

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LuisGonçalves1979

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, Author & International Keynote Speaker. He works with Senior Executives to implement his ‘Organisational Mastery’ system so they can greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their organisations; enabling them to become recognised and highly rewarded Leaders.

Comments

Share your point of view

  1. Hey Luis. Good reading. I totally agree with your last words “Help people and they will help you back”. I truly believe by sharing information and helping others you will gain so much of it. Being in a helping-and-learning circle is a great way to thrive.

  2. Great read! I’ve always found it hard to tell people that I am a Scrum Master, they assume it has something to do with sports and I would use the Scrum analogy to make it easier, but it sometimes get lost in translation. I love the thought pattern of helping others become better, whether it be professional or personal. This definitely gave me something to think about and something to explore in my own introspection. Thank you for the article, it resonated more than you can imagine

  3. Great article Luis. During my training as a Co-Active coach, I had to discover and then declare my Life Purpose. Here it is: To help individuals become better!

    That’s what I do as an Agile Coach, I help people get better; and I cannot think of anything else I would rather do.

    Be Safe and Be Agile

    Steve

    1. Thanks 🙂 🙂

      I did not do Co-Active, I did ORSC which is focusing at the relationship but I believe that at some point I will do Co-Active for the learning experience 😉

      Luis

  4. Good writing! The only note: we do help organizations by helping people and clarifying group relationships, by bringing their relationships into the framework of the processes that WORK. After all, organization is mere a ‘collective’.

    1. I do not believe on that… You can only help “things” that live and bread.

      Organisations will never thank you or never will help you in the future 😉

      But I understand your point of view, I am just trying too black or white.

      Luis

    2. “Organisations will never thank you or never will help you in the future”
      There’s something disturbing to me about this expression.

  5. Luis,

    I found the bullet “I am in the business of helping others to become better, to find the small things they are proud of and multiply it by 10X” very helpful and am planning to rework it as part of the purpose of the retrospective and why we need to focus on our successes and not just what we can to better.

    Thanks

    Michael

  6. Hey Luis,

    Thanks for this perspective! Helping people experience satisfaction in their lives and teams is sure to help the “abstract” animal called organisation. But feels much more direct and alive to look at it this way.

    Power to the people!

    Paul

  7. I enjoyed a lot reading your blog, As agile coach I’ve lately thinking how to explain my job to my kids, my friends and others even inside my company, I like the way you explain it!!.

    Thanks
    Alma

  8. It’s funny. When I was a developer, I never thought of myself as a coder, always a problem solver, and that has not changed as I’ve moved into current my “Scrum Master Competency Center Manager” (or as I prefer to think of myself, Process Coach). I still start and end every day believing that solving problems is what I do and what I am teaching other to do by example and mentoring.

  9. Thank you, Luis.

    I’ve been thinking this for several years now and usually felt I was on the “hippie fringe” because of it. We are in the people business. I don’t care if you’re a SQL developer or an English teacher, I want to help you be better at what you do.

    Just because most of my work is in “Silicon Valley” does not automatically make me in the software industry. It just means there is a wealth of work for me to do here.

    Cheers, JBC

  10. Hi Luis,
    Once I had one excercise with my SM-friends: To make up one sentence to describe what we realy do. One short and simple sentence you can add just after introducing yourself 🙂 Like: “Hi, I am Chris, I am a Scrum Master”. This one doesn’t say much for someone who doesn’t know who SM is.
    And I think you just did it – you made it 🙂
    “Hi I am Luis, I help people in becoming a better persons” 🙂

  11. Luis,

    Thank you for the wonderful and personal post. I often struggle when telling someone I’m a Scrum Master and what that means. This post has put it in a whole different perspective as I can just say I help people become better people! So simple it’s amazing! Thanks!

    Todd

  12. When you have any type of title, it becomes awfully seductive to think everyone should listen to you, whether you are a manager or an Agile Coach. I suggest that our job isn’t so much to tell folks what to do or even helping them to “become better” as it is to identify the dysfunction in the system and tweak the environmental factor that will provide the most leverage for positive change. Everyone wants to succeed given their circumstances, but perhaps coaches and managers do best to remember the old adage, “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely!”

  13. Thoughtful post, Luis. I’m not sure I like this 10x stuff. It’s a little too action-focused, and possibly limiting. There are other things going on when we work with people. I wrote something about that here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/you-tobias-mayer. But I do agree with you that our focus needs to be on people, more than these amorphous blobs that we call organizations. Without the people there is nothing.

    1. There’s a danger though. What if the small things they are proud of are actually detrimental to the system? Sometimes it’s hard to know. I’
      ve found it is sometimes as helpful to guide people to let go of the things they love doing, or think are beneficial. This is where the effort to shift an organization has meaning.

  14. It helps me feel a little bit better after leaving the startup I was working for the last 3 years. I received emails that really touched me by colleagues. Your article makes it clearer for me and encourages me for my next challenges.

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