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The Difference Between Teaching and Coaching

This is a guest blog from Phil Dexter, Senior Project Manager at Torchbox. Phil recently attended one of our ICAgile courses where he got inspiration for this blog post. You can find Phil’s original article here.


Great coaching leads to great performance.

I’ve been reflecting on the role of coaches and their influence - both in sport, and at work. Specifically, I’ve been considering the difference between coaching and teaching - something focused on at an Agile Coaching course that I recently attended.

 

As per the course definition, teaching is explaining something to someone. It is the natural reaction that all of us have - someone asks us a question and we give them an answer. Perhaps we go the extra mile, and teach them - “here’s the answer, and here’s how I got to it”. The problem is solved and the knowledge passed on… kind of.

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Why on earth implement Agile?

This is the sort of conversation that I wished that my Agile Coach had with me when I was first contemplating implementing Agile.

"I want to implement Agile"

"Great. Why's that?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, let me put it another way! Why do you want to implement Agile?"

"Because I do and someone told me that's it really cool"

"Okay. What problems are you trying to solve or, more importantly, what benefits do you hope to achieve?"

"I have absolutely no idea. Is that really important?" "Well, do you normally change something if there is no reason? Or, do you normally start a project without business value?"

"Of course not!"

"So, again, my question; why would you want to implement Agile if you don't know what you are trying to solve and you don't know the benefit you hope to achieve?"

"I guess you have a point!"

"That's good, because so do I"

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Sheep-dipping!

So, do you have kids? I do!

Did you go to antenatal classes? I did!

Did you read books on parenting? Yep!

Did you think you were fully prepared for parenthood? Of course I did. I mean what is all the fuss about, how difficult could it be!

Was it anything like you expected? Erh, NO!

Nothing can prepare you for your first baby. Thank heaven for my mother. Why? Because she had seen it all before, had years of experience raising my sister and I, and, as consequence, knew how to practically deal with situations with pragmatic advice and guidance that were often not covered in any book or class.

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