5 April 2021

Is there any evidence that Agile coaches make things better?

Several years ago I was hosting a Coaching Community of Practice with Josie Palermo. At that monthly meetup we asked coaches what evidence they could share about the impact of coaching. 

I think I actually asked "When the budget cuts come, what defence have you got against being first out the door?" The Agile and Lean coaches didn't really have a solid answer to hand. The leadership coaches had the personal air cover of executives they coached and so were not worried. The call centre coaches came bearing data. At the time it was pretty compelling and appeared to be a pretty rigourous defence of coaching in their context.

A few years later I hosted a session at LAST Conference asking coaches to business case their existance. My motivation this time was the fact that I had had the opportunity to lobby for and even hire agile coaches but had not. Why not?  What was holding me back? I sure knwew a bunch, and knew most of them had contributed to oustanding results in their areas. Many of those smart agile coahes joined me on that day to discuss the challenge.  Few had answers to hand, but some went away and ran experiements and gatherred their data.

Months later information was shared to me about the impact of coaching in a few large organisations. Once again it was pretty compelling that at coaching makes an impact, especially when you look across a portfolio.

In 2020 I was reading The Captain's Class, and in it the author Sam Walker, makes an observation that the eprformacne of coaches doesn't have a statistical impact of the performance of a sports team in professional leagues.  Sam's arguement, you might guess, was that the team captain was where the leverage for the highest performaning teams was. Sports is not business, so there could be many reasons why it can be distinguished, but it got me thinking on the topic of agile coaches and performance one again. 

Last week I asked the following question on Linkedin, Reddit and Facebook:

Are there any public, peer reviewed research projects/articles on the value of agile coaching?

I've seen some private studies from inside big companies and have read about the impact of coaching from other domains (eg sports) but am yet to find a credible source saying agile coaching is worth the investment.

Help me out?

I got an interesting range of answers. 

Below I'll share some links that I was referred to. In coming posts I'll maybe share some reflections on what I am reading.  




  • Rolling out Agile in a Large Enterprise, Gabrielle Benefield 2008
  • A case study with a description of how agile coaching was implemented and scaled out
  • A Theory of Team Coaching, Richard Hackman 2005
  • Not focused on Agile Coaches
  • Measuring Enterprise Agility, by Matt and Mia at Zen Ex Machina
  • Doesn't talk about coaches
  • My own digging

    1 comment:

    1. Here is a video of Matt and Mia's paper