I was running one of my coaching circles the other day and someone brought up the X-wing Coaching Model. To be honest, I had to admit that I didn’t know what that was. 

Then they sent me a link, http://agilecoachinginstitute.com/agile-coaching-resources/

and I realized it was the Agile Coaching Competency framework put forth by the Agile Coaching Institute. It’s a model (picture) that speaks to the various capabilities that one should have when approaching agile coaching.

I wanted to share a couple of reactions to the model.

First, Can I Really DO It All?

One of the problems I have with the model, and it’s one of the few, is the implication that a coach needs to have competency/skill in all of the areas. Or to be growing their skills broadly across all of them. And my issue is, I don’t think that’s possible.

For example, some agile coaches do not have development chops (Technical Mastery) so it would be incredibly hard to impossible for them to acquire these skills late in the game. And still strive to master all of the other areas.

I’d rather provide some “clustering” areas to provide more focused guidance to situational / specialized coaches. Here are some examples of what I mean.

Clustering of Skill Areas - Situations


I think it would be helpful if there was advice around a foundational level of skills, call it a baseline. I could easily see the following being baseline skills:

  1. Agile-Lean Practitioner

  2. Lite Professional Coaching and Facilitation

  3. Teaching & Mentoring

Team-level Coaching

Sometimes folks call this a technical coach. The role was inspired by Thoughtworks and their team engagement model of the early 2000’s. There is a hands-on, sit with team, show them aspect to this level of coaching. 

  1. Baseline, plus

  2. Technical Mastery

  3. Lite Business Mastery

Product-level Coaching

I do quite a bit of this type of coaching. The real key is not only understanding the customers business proper, but more importantly, product management and business analysis as disciplines.

  1. Baseline, plus

  2. Business Mastery

  3. Lite Transformation Mastery

Leadership-level Coaching

This is core to my own coaching practice. They key for me is my own leadership experience coupled with a broad brush of skills. I think this requires the broadest skill-set, yet it still isn’t balanced across the entire X-wing. 

  1. Baseline, plus

  2. Lite Business Mastery

  3. Lite Technical Mastery

  4. Transformation Mastery

  5. (Leadership Coaching) Mastery

What’s missing from the X-wing?

I wish there was a sole focus on Leadership. You sort of see it in the Transformation Mastery area. But it gets muddied with other things. I honestly believe that leadership coaching is a mastery all on its own. It’s certainly one of the great challenges of agile coaching.

The other challenge is having leadership experience. I think so many coaches try to coach leaders when they haven’t really walked in their shoes. I find that incongruent.

Another thing that’s missing is personal care. All of these have the implication that you’re learning something so that you can “do it” or coach someone else. Where are the personal care elements? For example:

  • Journaling and personal reflection

  • Personal mentoring and finding a coach

  • Being coachable

  • Being more self-aware

  • Being more emotionally intelligent

  • Community involvement

  • Coaching, coaching, coaching (practice)

More of a focus on coaching the coach and caring for the coach areas to keep us energized, passionate, and balanced.

Wrapping Up

Not only do I think there are some segments within the X-wing model, but I also feel it helps us to:

  • Target our coaching more situationally. Moving from a “generic” coach, who is broadly weak, to a more specialized coach with particular strength areas.

  • It helps to focus our personal development and training plans.

  • It helps us in defining our coaching service offerings to our clients. In other words, focusing on what we can do and, importantly, what we shouldn’t be doing.

But all of this critique aside, I DO think the model is basically sound and helpful. As agile coaches, we need all the guidance we can get around how we prepare and arm ourselves for battle.


Stay agile my friends,