Agile Experience Design Coach, Redmond, WA - October 3, 2013
Working for SIQ was a significant departure from my previous career but I learned a lot in a short period of time about many things that I wouldn't have had access to otherwise. I was steeped constantly in a disciplined and genuine form of Agile that has been distinctly absent in my previous workplaces. One year of Agile at SIQ is easily worth several years anywhere else.
I can't say I had a typical day at this job since I was doing different things depending on whether my focus was on a team, several teams, internal coaching tasks, internal SIQ tasks, or uncorking client access bottlenecks. Some weeks I was glued to a team, others I was in a constant flow of phone conferences, and sometimes I was pinball facilitating conversation or materials between small crowds of individuals. About the only typical aspect was aligning to the principle of face to face conversation—we would meet in person for our ceremonies as much as possible.
Also the kind of work I was able to engage in was dependent on who their clients are at the time. For instance I would have enjoyed continuing to do Agile UX in addition to the Coaching I provided but there weren't clients approaching SIQ for that while I was there.
The management structure is decidedly flat and this creates a lot of empowerment for SIQ employees, further creating an environment fostering job satisfaction and open collaboration. They work hard at maintaining this and I think it pays off. My co-workers were a pleasure to work with... and I'd like to add, excellent at performing improv skits! They're dedicated and continually seeking professional self improvement, as Agile methodologies suggest. I'd be happy to work with any of them again.
The most difficult and enjoyable parts of the job are closely related for me. It was always challenging to maintain morale when we'd be facing a client setback, some event happening with the client that caused a lot of ground to be lost for their adoption of Agile. Often it would be a key person leaving or being re-assigned. Sometimes it could be a team deciding to regress under external pressure. But at the same time, when bright spots happened (and they did happen), it was a joy for everyone on the engagement to hear about. Whether it was a team making excellent decisions, a group making a breakthrough after a retrospective, an executive recognizing their success, or even an individual realizing their job just became better when they "got" a critical concept—it made all the challenges worthwhile.
Working this kind of coaching role could be akin to parenthood. At our best we want those we're coaching to find success and fulfillment through the methodologies we recommend; and we want to empower them to continue in our absence. We feel the pain of their setbacks and joy in their mastery. We want only the best for our clients' employees, to pass on the best of how SIQ operates into the teams we meet.