What does an Agile Coach do?

Job Title: Agile Coach

Name: Stefan Rist

Age: 33 years

Education: IT specialist – system integration

Company: Esome Advertising

What do you do?

Originally I came to Esome as a Linux System Engineer. As such, I provide the infrastructure needed to develop, test, and use our in-house developed tools. In this capacity, I am also directly affected by the introduction of a DevOps culture in Esome. Thanks to my previous experience, I can help shape the introduction and design of this culture at Esome as an Agile Coach.

DevOps means cross-functional communication and collaboration between developers and other technological functions during the software development and deployment process. The aim of this culture is to introduce better quality software faster and more reliably. This allows Esome to respond quickly to market changes and provide advertisers with the most relevant and up-to-date advertising solutions. As an Agile Coach, I assist my colleagues in increasing the agility of processes and helping them to adopt agile concepts, such as: Continuous Delivery, implement. This starts with the individuals and roles of the team, but also involves changing processes throughout the organization


How did you come to this task?

At my previous employer, I worked as a Systems Engineer in an admin team that suddenly faced rapid growth. From two to seven team members, we had to think about how to organize the team and our tasks with so many more people.

Knowing that other teams in the company used Scrum, we considered whether and how we could adopt such an approach for our work in the future. The conversion was supported by an external Agile Coach. While working with him, I realized that his job is not only fun, but also fun. It’s a lot of fun seeing colleagues develop into new roles and support them, so I’ve gradually taken on the responsibilities of the external Agile Coach in my previous job. The experience of working full-time as an Agile Coach was received very positively by Esome, so I was able to work in an advisory capacity right from the start.

Describe as clearly as possible a project that has particularly impressed you.

A concept that has already been implemented in many ways in many companies and that inspires me are so-called Innovation Days.

Here, all “expendable” employees of a company work for a fixed period, usually two to five days, on joint projects. The type of projects is decided at the kick-off of the Innovation Days: every employee can prepare an idea and pitch in front of the plenum. All employees who have experience with the topic or are in the mood for the idea join together with an idea generator to form a working group. The ideas do not have to have something to do with the company. However, this concept of the Innovation Days lends itself, for example, to simplify or automate processes.

Within the set time frame, the teams should implement their ideas and present the results at the end, with the best ideas usually being rewarded. What I particularly like about the “Innovation Days” concept is the creativity, the cross-departmental collaboration and the team spirit that is created.

Which feature helps you the most in your everyday life? Why?

As an Agile Coach, a certain amount of communication strength benefits you. It is easy for me to understand the context and place it in the big picture in a discussion in which I am not involved in the content. This is how I recognize when two people may be talking about the same topic but misunderstand because they are looking at it from different perspectives or under different conditions. This certain pragmatism or analytical skills help me in clarifying problems, modifying conversations and reducing complexity.

What is most important to you about your job? What is the most fun?

I really enjoy working with different people, personalities and roles in a team. I find it exciting that and how one can form a team out of many individuals without losing the individuality of the individual.

My job or role is indispensable because …

… as an agile coach I am a strong “culture driver”. I can only work effectively if I get the team’s approval and mission to change the team to make agile processes work better. This means that sometimes I have to criticize established processes, hard decisions and personal ways of working. This is not always comfortable for the individual, which is why I need a lot of trust and the backing of the team. I return this confidence with my work as an Agile Coach and can thus help to make the mood in the entire team more confident and the team members rely on each other.

If you were not Agile Coach, what would you be?

If the role of the Agile Coach did not exist, I would probably be a Team Lead. Thinking outside my current field of activity, I could well imagine working as a social worker in youth welfare – this is probably not all that surprising considering my enjoyment of developing others.

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