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Dec 6, 2021

Agile Coach or Scrum Master? What's The Difference?

There is currently a big demand for Agile Coaches. But what is the difference between an Agile Coach and a Scrum Master? People often ask us what an Agile Coach can add to a modern, self-managing organization. Aren’t the teams already coached by the Scrum Master? Yes they are! There are many similarities between the two roles. Both the Scrum Master and Agile Coach help organizations develop an Agile mindset. They both use similar techniques to support and facilitate teams in this respect. The difference between them lies in their scope.

The Scrum Master

The Scrum Master is part of a specific scrum team and plays a leading role in this team. They are in the workplace every day, know the team inside out, and know exactly what’s going on.

The Scrum Master’s concrete tasks:

  • Ensure that the team works according to the Scrum rules.
  • Organize practical aspects, such as planning meetings, looking for process improvements, and ensuring that the developers have the right tools.
  • Solve problems (impediments) that the team can’t solve itself.

In addition, they support the team in the broadest sense of the word. For example, they do this by helping the Product Owner with the user stories or by stepping in during testing.

The Agile Coach

Unlike the Scrum Master, the Agile Coach isn’t part of a specific Scrum team. They have an independent role and will coach several teams and/or the management.

The growth and focus of the Agile Coach has several levels. While a Team and a Program Coach focus on guiding the individual team members, the Enterprise Coach focuses on the implementation of the Agile way of working within the organization as a whole. The Agile Coach Bootcamp, therefore, focuses on the team and program coaching.

The Agile coach’s concrete tasks

  • Make the different teams and individual employees aware of their strengths and weaknesses so that they can develop towards an Agile mindset.
  • Promote a healthy group dynamic by offering the teams new tools and techniques (e.g. for the retrospective).
  • Allow teams and individuals to work together effectively; for example, by implementing the Agile way of working.
  • Support individuals and teams by utilizing the core competencies: coaching, mentoring, facilitating, and teaching.

Are you interested in Agile Coaching and do you want to know more? Download the free white paper "Agile Coach: Crucial for Transformation"

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Conclusion: Agile Coach or Scrum Master?

So, although there is a lot of overlap between the roles of Scrum Master and Agile Coach, there are also significant differences that help draw evident distinction between the two roles. Agile Coaches don’t deal with the content, but above all, with the process. Experience teaches us that this transition is a very radical and time-consuming operation that is never 100% finished. So, the Agile Coach has a bright future.

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Written by Gladwell Academy, but most of our content is created by trainers and partnering experts!