What’s the point of Coaching?

Executive leadership has a tough job to perform, in short they’re asked to bring about an increase in revenue while minimizing the associated costs/expenses to maximize the increase in revenue. What seems to be prevalent in the ranks of leadership is an opportunity to understand how to deploy coaches.

The definition of a Coach:

The path to professional coaching is clearly defined in the world of professional sports and other arenas. However, in the world of software there is at present room for the the role of the coach to flourish. A coach in the software arena is someone that understands:

  1. How the members of the team do their best work in support of building the product
  2. Is able to represent the team’s interests throughout the organization
  3. Has built quality working relationships among many areas in the organization that facilitates there ability to swiftly remove/mitigate constraints to a team’s ability to work effectively
  4. Understands and continues build their craft in the areas of improving “how” individuals and teams work. This isn’t limited knowing lots of buzz words but is akin to building a body of knowledge and and able to teach at a moments notice to constituents that are seeking to continuously improve - this is on-going work for anyone in this role

What does this mean for software teams?

Some software teams have been arrogant enough to proclaim that they’re doing well and need to make no changes. This isn’t sentiment only from developers but is sometimes shared by colleagues in Operations. This is a “red” flag that ta team isn’t improving and in most cases is regressing. The following facts are interesting to me:

  • Toyota earns roughly $2,700/per car while Detroit competitors earn less then half this amount - source: www.detroitnews.com
  • The Boeing 737 has roughly 367,00 parts
  • The Tesla Model S has fewer than 150 moving parts and a typical car has 10,000
  • The Folks who build software create a product with no “parts” while our peers in automotive and aerospace are building ever increasing products that use software and other components to make their final product - if you don’t believe me on the software, take a look at the avionics in a 737

So what does this mean for us in software?

The simplest lesson is that Toyota despite the recent challenges they’ve experienced in recent history. First, the accelerator/floor mat challenge. Second, Great Recession, and Third, Tsunami - doubled down on its approach to improve, and Coaches/Sensei were not minimized during this time to bring about the organizational needs to improve their way out of the situations they found themselves in.

Whether or not you’re a small start-up, mid-sized, or large enterprise, there is a contribution to be made by a coach that can bring about improvements in revenue because you have greater throughput/flow of completed user stories to your customers that will ultimately reward you if you decide to continuously improve and set your ego aside.