Location : AgileCoachCamp Wiki > PairCoaching PairCoaching


Status: This is draft and needs editing.exclaim

Title: Pair Coaching: Delivering and learning together on the job
Discussion Leader: MichaelSahota

Later Contributors:

Pair Coaching is all about working together to get a deeper learning. Most conferences and workshops are at the "architecture" or "design" level while pairing onsite gets to the "code" level: inspecting and adapting how we work day to day.


  • Success: Did a pair readiness assessment with another coach. Learned a lot as we shared and pooled ideas on how to prepare and deliver. Charged 1.5 times normal fee.
  • Failure: Brought on another coach who was more senior at a client engagement, but they wanted to do things their own way and were not interested in working together.
  • Success: Public pair-training with another coach. Learned a lot both preparing and in the training session.

We have 2 leadership models
  • the working leadership model: 1 manager and 5 to 5000 team members
  • the family leadership model: 2 parents and 1 to 5 (17) children
Why do we think for a corporation 1 leaders is normal and for a family 2 people is the default? When my father and I "invented" the term PairCoaching our idea was to ask people to try out the fmily leadership style also with teams. In the family model, the parents have different roles. In Scrum we have a PO and a SM. In a lot of big companies we have a CEO and a president of the board. Two roles that work closely together to the same goal. - YvesHanoulle

Reasons for coaches to pair
  • Inspection and debugging of on-the-job behaviours and activities
  • Sharing and learning different approaches and techniques
  • Better quality of result for the client --> more successful adoption
  • Adoption is difficult and can be draining so having support is essential
  • We only do what we know how to do based on our experiences. Virtually all coaches have travelled different career and learning paths so we have unique contributions.
  • When one coach actively engages, the other can observe people's reactions and provide safety in getting to the desired outcome.
  • You'll learn a lot
  • It's more fun than solo-coaching
  • you show the client what you want them to do: "do as we do not as we say"

  • It takes time to learn from others and synchronize approaches (especially instructional material)
==> is not a drawback for me (Yves) as this means the quality is again higher for the client. (You do better preparations)

  • Some situations require foregoing earnings to work a lower pair rate.
==> PairCoach with an internal person.

Client Perspective
  • May be confusion about two people working together.
  • May expect coaches to be expert - why do I need two people?

Types of collaboration models
  • Visitor - Have a coach visit another coach at the client site for a half day or full-day. Use the opportunity to review practices/artifacts, have a guest speaker, brainstorm problems, get new perspectives, etc. This could be when a coach is visiting town or when there is downtime between engagements.
  • Shadow someone - Used when getting started with Agile Coaching or when having some downtime between engagements. This is like a longer visit. Both coaches get to learn and the client benefits.
  • Pair on Sales - Sales meetings are typically short but are crucial to getting work. Use pairing to increase success. Low effort, high payoff.
  • Pair on paid engagements - in this model, statements of work include pair-coaching as mandatory or optional. Some clients have challenges finding budget for one coach, let alone 2. One possible model is to pairing for the more critical parts of the engagement (assessment, training, project kick-off and first sprint) with a transition to solo-coaching. If you are not experienced with pair-coaching and selling the benefits of it, it may be better to provide second coach for free or provide second coach at 50% rate. Over the course of the year, such engagements could be utilized to provide a balance between revenue and learning. Another model is to sell by value of the activity to the business and not by the daily rate.
  • Pair with internal coach. This can be effective way for both parties to learn.
  • Coaching Teams - on larger engagements it is possible to have teams of coaches that work together to transition the client. This a very good situation for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is possible to pair on activities without having to directly justify this or the daily rate. Secondly, with a larger team it is possible to have members with different and complementary skills and foci.
  • Pair up with a personal internal person at the client.

How to get started
  • Find people who you trust and want to work with at conferences
  • Find someone at the client you can pair with.

Making it work
  • Set up ground rules; approach with client, handling differing views/conflict, referral fee for paid work or revenue split
  • Discuss and make explicit agreements about reciprocality as required

Coaching Circle
See Scrum Gathering Open Space Session: Agile Coaching Circles aka How to avoid feeling isolated and unsupported as a coach

oovoo for video
Created by MichaelSahota. Last Modification: Tuesday, 23 of March, 2010 03:34:39 CET by MichaelSahota.