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The Agile Coaching Growth Wheel

The Agile Coaching Growth Wheel is a tool to help and develop teams using agile practices.

The Agile Coaching Growth Wheel, a tool for Agile coaches, Scrum Masters, and managers who want to increase their knowledge to help and develop teams using Agile practices. The Wheel enables both the coach and the organization to effectively reflect and grow in their agile journey.  


The wheel consists of eight segments representing eight competency skill areas. Each of these areas is closely related to self-control. The outer areas of the wheel represent the coach's competencies. These are knowledge areas that support the core competency areas.


The story of the evolution of agile coaching - the emergence of the Growth Wheel


At the 2018 Agile Coaching Retreat in London, a group of coaches gathered to answer the following question: 


"What skills are needed to successfully coach teams and organisations in an agile environment?"


As the use of agile has become more widespread, the basic definition of good agile coaching skills has remained loosely defined, and the lack of a well-defined definition has resulted in unqualified people with little experience and low competence starting to work as agile coaches. This created a lottery for organisations, resulting in a 50-50 split between good and bad coaches.  


It was during the London meeting that the first wave of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel was born, seeking answers to the questions and challenges mentioned earlier.  


In 2020, Bob Galen wrote Agile Coaches Need More Than Coaching Skills, which re-launched the conversation about what skills are essential to the "craft" of agile coaching. Galen's blog was an implicit challenge to everyone in the agile coaching community, which helped coaches to improve both in their own practice and in training the next generation of agile coaches.


Partly in response to Bob's article, in the spring of 2021 the Scrum Alliance hosted an Open Space focused on successful coach competencies. The Open Space resulted in a working group to professionalise the world of agile coaching. The working group developed a framework to help agile professionals develop along clear metrics.


Measuring competence and determining skill levels 


The Agile Coaching Growth Wheel defines five growth levels based on the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition.

  1. Starting 

A beginner in the application of agile coaching practices is someone who has only theoretical knowledge and no practical experience. A beginner typically sticks closely to set rules or plans and works closely with a more experienced person. An individual who focuses on learning and is given the opportunity to practice, usually reaches a higher level of competence within a short period of time. A beginner typically starts developing competence by working with a single team and the support of a more experienced coach or mentor (especially if the team is part of a larger organisation).


  1. Advanced beginner 

An advanced beginner in agile coaching practices, with practical experience in applying the competencies of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel. At this level, the individual will be able to interpret and apply the simpler techniques with minimal support from a more experienced coach or mentor. While an advanced beginner will be able to identify complex problems, they will usually have limited ability to solve them. At this level, an individual using agile coaching practices typically has difficulty determining which aspects are most important in a given situation.


  1. Practitioner 

The practitioner is able to understand and apply all aspects of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel. The agile coaching practitioner will be able to analyse and distinguish between different solutions to be applied in their work without close supervision and will have the planning skills to deal with complex problems or to resolve conflicting priorities. At this level, the practitioner should be able to use repeatable procedures to achieve acceptable results and be able to plan towards longer-term goals.


  1. Guidance 

At the guide level, the individual has a thorough understanding of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel competencies. He/she will be able to synthesise coaching solutions from the existing body of knowledge from Agile/Lean and beyond, and to tailor them to specific cases, except for the most complex or unique situations, and to effectively guide the work of others. 

An agile coaching leader will usually be able to intuitively assess the best course of action in a given situation and understand how and when to apply the guidelines. 


  1. Catalyst 

The Catalyst has a deep, tacit understanding of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel competencies. This individual will be able to modify or change the specifications and develop new, innovative approaches to deal with unusual situations. The Catalyst will be able to produce high quality results and develop a clearly defined vision. 


Although the above models and studies have made significant contributions to the development and framing of agile coaching, not only the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel, but also the coaching profession is changing day by day. If you're curious about more news and interesting reading related to agile coaching, follow the RI blog where we'll keep you updated.


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