Recently I was having a discussion with one SM and he asked what the career path for a SM is to become Agile Coach. This was not the first time I heard this question. Usually for a Scrum Master, this looks a natural aspiration. But what is the difference between both the roles? Sometimes looks similar only. I think the difference being in the scope of engagement. Scrum Master works with few teams and mostly deal with Scrum coaching mentoring to the team, so basically, he/she is the team coach. But Agile coach have some more flavors added to his role, like he would be working various other frameworks also like Kanban, XP etc.
There are lot similarities and few differences in both the roles but in this post, I would not go in that. Here the focus is how to move from Scrum Master role to Agile Coach role. I would share my understanding and few experiences around that.
|| Assess yourself and start where you are
I am assuming here that you are already a seasoned Scrum Master and you are looking for progression to Agile Coach role, so you are already in a good place to start with.
A Scrum Master already involves in team coaching activities, now assess what other skills you need to move to Agile Coach role. As an Agile Coach, would be basically coaching, teaching, mentoring, and training. Now see what you are missing here, may be start focusing on that part.
For Example, you would be doing good in teaching, mentoring, and training but you would not have explored the coaching part much. Maybe you can explore what competencies required for a coaching like active listening, powerful questioning etc.
|| Lookout for opportunities
Learning does not happen in silos. You may be having Agile Coaches in your organization. You may or may not be working with them directly but try to connect with them through internal forums or some other platforms. Try to associate with them in some other way to learn from them what they are already doing as Agile Coaches. May be partnering with them through some webinar, presentation, or some other initiative. Idea is network with like minded people and learn from them. Expand your learning horizon.
|| Certifications or Credentials
This is very important part and most of the get biased or inclined to some certification by seeing somebody else doing in your circle. But the bigger question is are these certifications useful to move towards becoming Agile Coach. As per my experience, there are two parts of certifications. One is learning other is having credentials added to your profile.
Certifications are good for learning but if you are not going to use that learning in near future, then I would not suggest going for certification, it would be waste of money and time. Better to go for certification when you are planning to use that skill. There are lot of free learning sources which one can take.
The other part is credentialing. I have seen that certifications are widely used as a filter to get the right profile with assessment and interview, though nobody would ask in interviews about your certifications. Other problem with certifications is that they come with an expiry and once expired it is just a money-making process the certification body, there would be any learning for you. So, think before you plan to go for any certification. As I mentioned earlier, learning is free only these certifications would a cost attached.
So finally becoming Agile Coach is a long journey, and like every other journey it starts with small steps. So try to do one thing at a time and have long term view in mind, don’t get deviated by small obstacles, it may take time achieve the goal to become Agile Coach but persistency would take you there, sooner or later.
I hope this information would help you in your journey. Thanks