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From Push to Pull Resources: Investing in Agile Coaching for Long-Term Success

By: Caitlin Eder, Ed Gegnas, Brian Breslin, Kip Verkamp


Want your company to be more nimble, resilient, and ready for the future? Agile coaching is the secret to unlocking your team’s full potential.

What does it mean to be Agile? For some businesses, it means meeting deadlines and benchmarks quarter after quarter. For others, it means delivering products and services that consistently exceed customer expectations. But to be Agile is to be resilient in all facets of business. It requires a holistic approach to optimizing operational processes, reducing time to market, building internal collaboration, and strengthening creativity — all which help your organization become nimble and adaptive to shifting market dynamics.

In fact, according to Agile Adoption Statistics 2022, 60% of businesses that adopted an Agile methodology experienced a growth in profits. Traditional project management methodologies, like the linear waterfall approach, can result in too many roadblocks that delay deadlines and leave little room for quick, creative iteration. Agile methodologies offer a shift away from this rigidity, emphasizing adaptability to allow teams to respond quickly to changing demands and unforeseen challenges. 

So how can organizations integrate Agile successfully? 

An agile coach plays a pivotal role in this transformation. Agile coaches provide the expertise, tools, and frameworks necessary for teams to adopt Agile methodologies effectively. Let’s dive deeper into how Agile coaching can help organizations become more resilient in their respective industries and transform your business when employed strategically.

Maximizing Impact through the Agile Push-Pull Transition

A major component of effective Agile adoption is understanding the dynamics of the push-pull transition. The transition from a “push” to a “pull” model in Agile coaching is a transformative shift that comes from fostering a culture of empowerment, innovation, and resilience. This evolution signifies that some of Agile’s core principles, such as self-organization, trust, transparency, and accountability have become deeply embedded in the team’s ethos and operational DNA.

In the initial “push” phase, Agile coaches play a vital role in laying the foundational knowledge and practices, actively guiding teams through the nuances of Agile methodologies. This hands-on approach ensures that teams are truly understanding and integrating Agile principles into their daily work. This phase sets the stage for a deeper, more intrinsic adoption of Agile, where the values and practices become second nature to the team.

As teams become firmly grounded in Agile principles, and begin to self-organize around these principles, the need for constant, hands-on coaching diminishes. When organizations are confident that their teams are educated and experienced in practicing Agile effectively, and that a culture of trust is present throughout the organization, they can consider transitioning to a “pulled” resource strategy. Here, teams take charge of sustaining the Agile strategy on their own and seek guidance from an Agile coach only when needed.

To facilitate this transition effectively, Agile coaches focus on enabling self-sufficiency within teams. This involves not just teaching Agile methodologies but also fostering a mindset of continuous improvement and adaptability. Agile coaches support teams by providing resources, tools, and frameworks that empower them to solve problems independently and make data-driven decisions. They also facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration among team members, encouraging a culture of learning and experimentation.

Knowing When to Make the Shift

For organizations uncertain about their readiness for this transition or the depth of Agile integration, seeking an external Agile Assessment from a third-party can prove invaluable. These assessments provide an external lens, offering fresh perspectives and insights into the maturity of Agile practices and cultural adoption. They highlight areas of strength and opportunities for further growth, ensuring that the transition to a “pull” model is both strategic and impactful.

Building Resilience Through Agile Coaching

Having a seasoned Agile coach by your side can make all the difference, whether you are just starting your Agile journey or looking to enhance your existing practices. Agile coaching offers a wide array of benefits, catering to both the team and enterprise levels, and plays a pivotal role in enabling success.

Making Agile practices sustainable and scalable over time requires more than an operational change, it demands a cultural shift within the organization. According to their 4th Annual State of Agile Marketing Report, Agile Sherpas lists that companies view cultural clashes as one of the biggest obstacles to Agile adoption. Cultural change is essential for building resilience and scalability, as it promotes transparency, collaboration, and adaptability across all levels of the organization. Agile coaches serve as change agents, guiding teams and leaders alike in embracing these cultural shifts and creating an environment where Agile values thrive.

Empowering Teams

At the team level, Agile coaches become indispensable team members, seamlessly integrating themselves into daily operations. They work closely with individual teams to facilitate collaboration, improve internal processes, and ensure the delivery of high-quality products. This integration allows Agile coaches to provide hands-on guidance, helping team members think and operate in new ways that align with Agile principles. By providing practical advice, facilitating meaningful discussions, and mentoring team members, Agile coaches instill a culture of collaboration, transparency, and continuous improvement within the team.

Scaling Agility Across the Enterprise

At the enterprise level, Agile coaches are catalysts for scaling Agile practices across the organization. They engage with senior leadership and executives, aligning Agile initiatives with strategic organizational goals. Agile coaches can help senior leaders become advocates of Agile practices by working with them to understand the profound benefits and implications of an Agile transformation. They collaborate closely with senior leadership to craft a well-thought-out strategy for scaling Agile practices to all corners of the organization.

Cultivating an Agile Culture

Agile coaches are pivotal in fostering an Agile culture that underpins the successful implementation and sustainability of Agile practices within an organization. They work diligently to ensure that the Agile core values — adaptability, collaboration, continuous improvement, and customer focus — become ingrained across all levels of the organization. Coaching not only instills these values but also ensures they are actively practiced and reflected in the day-to-day operations and decision-making processes.

SEI Is the Agile Partner You Need

If your business needs a guide to help you navigate an Agile transformation, consider partnering with our expert consultants at SEI. Agile transformation is one of many specialties where SEI thrives, with an embedded approach that puts our consultants on the front line with your stakeholders to develop a deeply personalized and viable solution specific to your organization.

At SEI, we understand that every business is unique, and that Agile’s impact should not be minimized to a cookie cutter solution. We tailor our approach to meet your specific needs, whether you are just starting your Agile journey or seeking to optimize your existing practices. Our team of experienced experts can step in as the third-party Agile coach your team needs. We guide your team members through the Agile transformation process, offering practical advice, facilitating discussions, and mentoring them to think and operate in new, Agile ways.

The SEI portfolio extends beyond coaching — we offer a wide range of services that encompass everything from Agile transformations to strategic reviews and design. Plus, we have the expertise to jump in and take on key roles within your organization to ensure you maximize the impact of the Agile methodology. Ready to boost your business’s resilience through Agile coaching?