The three roles of an Agile Coach, part 2: The Program Coach

Continuing Gladwell Academy’s deep dive into Lyssa Adkins’ model for the three roles of an Agile Coach, Renate Cremer defines how Program Coaching involves facilitating and integrating diverse teams within an organization to work together towards a common goal.

The Program Coach

“While the Enterprise Agile Coach focuses on the entire organization and the Team Facilitator works with a single team or even an individual, Program Coaching is meant to bring these two levels together. Program Coaching is ironing out and encouraging the necessary communication between distinct teams in the same value stream or department to have them work together with one vision and one end goal.”


The what does a Program Coach offer?

“Program Coaches are there to ‘connect the dots’: to ensure that teams focus on the right organizational value. They bring efficiency, speed, and higher value by making sure teams work together like a well-oiled machine.”


A case in point

“I remember a case with an electronics manufacturer. Customer feedback suggested that charging cables on certain appliances often got in the way and caused hassle. So, the team making the appliance starts developing wireless charging technology. Meanwhile though, another department that makes an entirely different appliance had already developed and incorporated the exact same feature some time ago. There was already a solution, but no communication. However, wireless charging itself is now a program in the company, spanning across the appliance lines.”

“A team works from its own knowledge and expectations, but they miss out on the knowledge and experience of other teams. Program Coaching is pooling and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and work across different arms of the organization.”


Who should focus on Program Coaching

“If you have experience working with ‘connecting the dots’ and thinking outside the regular, then Program Coaching is the role for you. You should also know how to handle multiple groups of people, moving in related but separate directions.

Large groups offer a unique complexity compared to working with smaller groups. You need to be able to recognize how to set up different but interconnected communities. This also means being able to look at things from both a detailed and a wide view at the same time; you sat you need to be able to ‘zoom in and out’ easily. You’ll need to be able to recognize what needs your attention here and now, and at the same time be road-mapping the future”

“I really can’t over-emphasize how important it is to have some experience working with larger groups before stepping up to Program Coaching. I’m not trying to scare or intimidate anyone, but even managing seven or eight people cohesively towards a single goal can be a challenge; jumping right into the Program level might be too much. Don’t let that discourage you though, it’s a skill which can be learned like any other, and it will make you an absolutely invaluable asset once mastered.”


Conduct your symphony

Like the conductor of an orchestra, the Program Coach brings together all the essentials of an organization. If you can imagine yourself as this kind of conductor, Gladwell Academy offers a three-day program that can get your foot in the door to Program Coaching. Catch up on what it can bring to you and your organization.


Subscribe to our newsletter