Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do we need a coach? Do we need a coach now?

Here are some questions that come up again and again: Do we need a coach? Do we really need a ScrumMaster? How much time should a ScrumMaster give a team? How good do they need to be? Will we always need one?

I am a coach, so perhaps I am biased.

Still, bear with me as we look at a recent example, and see if we learn anything.

Earlier this week the Kansas Jayhawks won the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. What do we see?
  • They have a coach, Bill Self. (We notice in fact that every team in the Tournament has a coach. Umm.)
  • He makes a lot of money (I heard $1.2 million per year. Fact checker!?)
  • Kansas is not firing Bill Self now that they have won. (And why not? Those kids clearly already know how to win.) In fact, they are going to pay him about $1 million more per year than this year (I think it will basically double his salary).
  • Bill Self does not play basketball; no NCAA coach does. (Very rarely the NBA has had a playing coach.)
  • The team of pigs is small; only 5 people play at one time. Plus some chickens. The total roster of Kansas was 17. Kansas played 8 people in the final game.
  • The team plays about 2x per week for maybe 24 weeks.
  • The team nets a fair amount of money for the school, especially if they go to NCAA's and do well. Consistently. I will guess in the $10-20 million range per year in total. (Can someone fact check this for Kansas?)
  • The winningest teams tend to have the best coaches. (Or at least so people think.)
  • The more successful coaches tend to be disproportionately successful (ie, success does not appear to be random or reliant on one lucky pituitary case.). Although a coach is by no means the whole picture. As one simple example: Since 1979 very seldom does the same University have back-to-back championships (exceptions: Florida & Duke).
  • The coaches run the show at a given University; they recruit players, they hire assistants, etc, etc.
  • The basketball coach is a full-time job, year-round.
  • In fact, many teams (all?) have multiple assistant coaches (Duke has 3 famous assistant coaches, presumably very good in their own right).
  • Basketball is a highly adaptive sport. The point guard is often called the floor general for the team. Plays are invented on the fly.
* * *

So, what do you infer about Agile and coaches from those comments? Or from other things you know about basketball coaches?

I infer that coaches are very valuable. In basketball. And in Agile. And probably more so in Agile than they are generally given credit for. (In Agile, we don't talk much about a continuum from ok to good to very good to great coaches. We should more.)

In my view, a ScrumMaster should be at least aspiring to be a coach. And probably on her way to being a coach.

No comments: