From Agile Coach to Organization Developer

From Agile Coach to Organization Developer

~ 3 minutes read
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Why Organization Developer

Agile coaching is differently understood in different organizations. That results in different expectations from and towards agile coaches. The spectrum I experienced ranges from teaching and conducting agile practises, dealing with conflicts and mediation as well as working with personal assistance and ad hoc tasks. 

The term agile coach implies to coach teams with agile principles only. Depending on the teams’ background, some need coaching beyond agile topics and or help in other areas to unlock the full potential of the coached teams.

Unknown assumptions of the agile coach role can create friction – go-to-person for any topic that’s hard to classify. This is fueled by the lack of certain roles e.g. facility or office managers. Agile coaches sub not only because of missing roles but also because of colleagues being too busy.

This results in missing focus that makes it impossible to leverage expertise and thus to grow.

The role Organization Developer addresses the impediments above. Let’s look into:
what is an Organization Developer.

What is an Organization Developer

There are 3 main ingredients:

Sensor in teams

Active listening and serving as a contact person for employees concerns, ideas and questions enable organizational developers. This empowers organizational developers to advocate for human factors in the upcoming change process. With that organizational developers can review management behavior and their impact on employee experience through feedback loops.

Facilitate change with focus on organizational change

Change sponsors are key to facilitate change because they back up organization developers. They are members of the senior management that initiate adaptations or change. Organization developer liaison with the organization’s leadership that sponsors a change initiative.

This cooperation qualifies Organization developer to promote the value of the upcoming change to maximize support of the employees and minimize resistance for the initiative. They engage people to participate by creating safe spaces where problems and concerns can be discussed openly.

Also, they recognize employees’ personal implications of change such as stability removed, outside the comfort zone, letting go of things they love. 

Through this recognition, they can anticipate and evaluate areas of potential dispute or disruption. They will voice employees’ concerns to the attention of change sponsors and leadership.

Process facilitation related to collaboration

Organization developers review and raise awareness of existing workflows and their implications within the organization. They monitor and analyze team-metrics to provide data based feedback and enable learning. Additionally they identify impediments in the product development teams. With that data they facilitate a mindset of continuous improvement and a learning culture. If needed they also can conduct agile ceremonies.


Organizations, especially software engineering organizations, must constantly adapt to changing markets and customer needs. Organizations developers backed by change sponsors facilitate, promote and help execute upcoming change. They maximize support of the employees and minimize resistance for initiatives.

Thanks for your support and feedback: Astrid, Matthias, Jan.

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