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What is one of the toughest lessons you learned as an agile coach?

What is one of the toughest lessons you learned as an agile coach?

The toughest lesson, without a doubt, is that it isn’t your success. When the team perform, it isn’t something you claim the credit for.

Everything we do, as an agile coach or scrum master, is to help others.

It’s to help our team deliver a better product, in a better way, and to create an environment where they can really excel.

It’s to help our product owner, product stakeholders and businesspeople understand how best to work with the scrum team and how to get the very best work out of them. To help get the best product out of the door and into the hands of customers.

We are there to help the organization adopt agile, adopt scrum, live and breathe the agile values and principles as defined in the Agile Manifesto. Really help the organization to change its policies and processes to support product development rather than hinder it.

So, when the team are successful it means that they are successful. It means that they claim the credit for the wins and they as a team celebrate the victories they have achieved.

It is incredibly rewarding, personally and professionally, to witness a scrum team excel and create products and services that truly delight customers, but you are firmly out of the limelight and work from behind the scenes rather than centre stage.

You will often find that when the team is really successful, the majority of people won’t know what you, as the agile coach or scrum master, actually do. They won’t understand how you have contributed to the success of the team, and you need to be comfortable with that.

Our job is to help others shine. To help them look and perform amazing in their role. It is incredibly hard to point to one specific thing as evidence of you achieving that, instead, it is a combination of events, facilitations, discussions, coaching and mentoring that helped them achieve that.

So, the hardest thing is getting your head around that.

You need the humility to accept that success is other people’s success.

How do you know if you are doing a great job? You know because they are doing well. You know because the team are succeeding and improving with each iteration and sprint.

Many people think that a scrum master or agile coach is simply a project manager reskinned for the agile world. They don’t understand that you are teaching, facilitating, coaching and mentoring in addition to helping the organisation transform.

They don’t understand the degree of skill and competence it takes to effectively work across the organisation to remove impediments, change policies, and create an environment where the team can excel.

The knowledge that you are doing that, and the satisfaction you derive from achieving that, must be enough for you without the need for external validation or praise.

If you are interested in becoming an agile coach and value mentored, coach-driven skills development in your journey to mastery, visit our Growing es page.

If you like the idea of becoming a scrum master and want to achieve internationally recognised and certified accreditation as a scrum master, visit our Certified (CSM) course page.

If you are already a scrum master and want to upskill to a more advanced level of knowledge and agile coaching capability, visit our Advanced Certified (A-CSM) course page.

If you have several years’ experience as a scrum master and want to validate and certify your professional skills, visit our Certified Scrum Professional (CSP-SM) course page.

For more information on John McFadyen, visit or connect with John on LinkedIn at

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John McFadyen Managing Partner
John McFadyen is an Executive and Enterprise Agile Coach with proven experience working on some of the UK and Europe’s largest, most complex Agile Transformations. As a Certified Scrum Trainer, John brings a wealth of experience as an Agile coach, Agile practitioner and software developer into each of the four core courses he provides. The war stories, the insights into successful Agile transformations and everything he has learned from coaching high-performance Agile teams combine to provide course delegates with a unique, compelling training experience that transforms as much as it empowers.

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