Pairing is an effective method of acquiring new skills, and pair-coaching helps us become more confident in our own coaching stance/style.

I’ve had the privileged of pair-coaching in a number of settings: when both coaches are external, both internal, or a mix. The ability to help each other grow while also navigating the organization’s culture is what I enjoy most with the int/ext combination, and the mix of perspectives lends itself well to reducing risk and “turning up the good”.

When I say “lowering risk”, I refer to the coachee and client when there are two coaches engaged. We all have down days and make mistakes, but with another coach on hand (even one with much less experience) the feedback loops / review process lowers the possibility of errant approaches.

Pair-coaching requires trust, confidence and even some risk-taking. I’d guess that a good many coaches might even shy away from pairing due to these hurdles. Still, by pairing on some of the complementary roles (eg. facilitator, trainer, even SM & PO working together as a pair), we can more quickly increase the efficacy and experience levels of both parties, and this should bring about better (localized) awareness of the value of pair-coaching.

I’ve been writing and speaking quite a bit about pair-coaching over the past couple years. Here are a few pages and resources I’ve created:

Scenarios for Pair-Coaching Exercises

Brett Palmer and I developed these 21 scenarios for participants to role play using a number of the pair-coaching patterns I’ve identified. This PDF is eight pages long and includes a guide to which roles to use as well as other useful information for coaching teams.

You can also download the most current patterns PDF file from #Agile2016.

Which brings us to…

Patterns in Pair-Coaching

There are many different ways to engage in pair-coaching, each to match a situation to a desired outcome. A few were apparent and talked about; others I gave name to.  I’ve identified seven of the most common patterns so that we can refer to a common language when discussing how to be more effective at pair-coaching. [Read more.]

The Pair-Coaching Domino Game

Back in March 2015 I led my first pair-coaching workshop at Scrum Day Orange County. My goal with the session was to examine a few pair-coaching roles (later reclassified as patterns), share a list of competency areas for Scrum Masters, and use dominoes to demonstrate viable situations where pairing will help the coach, her team, or the larger organization. [Read more.]

This presentation is available on youtube thanks to Scott Dunn of Rocket Nine Solutions and Cliff Rosa of Rosa Media Productions.

Using Dominoes for Scenario Play

This page has nothing to do with pair-coaching, but it gives you a novel way to pair people up for an exercise. I took my game-play usage and added a bit of math to create (hopefully) easy to use instructions. So if you’re looking for a way to randomize a group and match them with scenarios for role play, I suggest trying dominoes. [Read more.]

What’s Next?

pair-coaching-roles-matrixIn future posts, I might map roles to specific situations based on (a) the combined experience levels of both coaches and (b) the degree of overlap in each coach’s skills. Or I may dive into more use cases to try with each pattern. Brett Palmer (@brett_palmer), my latest speaking partner, has generously developed a list of scenarios that we will use for our presentation at Agile2016 in Atlanta.

I feel that there is much learning to be mined from this topic, but I can’t do it alone. If you’re interested in working with me on future iterations, reach out to me. We can pair.