Agile Coach training days, held in our Boston office and facilitated by the Eliassen Group, reflect Cengage Learning’s commitment to collaboration with each other and our community—and our commitment to transforming education for the empowerment of students.
Staying agile—it’s important for educators, it’s important for students, and it’s important to us at Cengage Learning as we create transformative solutions that advance the way that today’s students learn.
For our product development teams, agile development methodology meshes with their ambition to approach all aspects of their daily work creatively and collaboratively to meet the specific customer needs. Agile allows team members to learn from the process—and to learn from one another in an interactive, engaged way.
This approach to software development speaks to Cengage Learning’s commitment to fostering a learning culture across our organization. Across the board, employees have a desire and drive to gain the skills and training they need. In many cases, this means more than just sharpening the technical skills that are essential to building their solutions, but rather gaining the leadership, management, and communication skills that are essential to being successful.
Boston is the EdTech capital of the country. With our Boston headquarters located in the Innovation District, we are in the heart of the EdTech Innovation community, and we’re eager to engage with the inspiring, like-minded people and organizations around us. We see Agile coaching as another strong contribution to the software community, in the similar vein as our sponsorship of local EdTech accelerators and software bootcamps.
Agile Coach training: Learning to facilitate, lead, and transform
In this spirit, our Boston headquarters recently hosted two days of Agile Coach training from Eliassen Group, designed to help Cengage Learning employees (as well as attendees from other local organizations) improve their software-development practices and then themselves become agile coaches.
In addition to training on the technical aspects of the development process, attendees focused their efforts on building facilitation, management, and leadership skills that are essential to team building, camaraderie, and successful product development. Among other soft skills, they learned how to become more self reflective, how to facilitate teams towards realizing a shared goal, and how to manage conflict. Through the training, they came to recognize that these skills could be applied on the day-to-day job right away. Whether the takeaway was as simple as defining an agenda and setting of goals for a meeting, or something more challenging, as helping team members to reconcile their differences, the new-found knowledge empowered attendees to make an immediate impact on how their teams interact.
The coaching aspect of the training especially resonated with the attendees. The Eliassen Group’s trainers urged attendees to see themselves as coaches, rather than consultants. Rather than being directive or domineering, effective Agile Coaches can use their facilitation skills to guide their teams to head towards where they need to be. In practical terms, this meant learning how to ask probing questions and keep a conversation moving in a productive direction without introducing their own biases into the situation.
What did employees have to say about the Agile Coach training experience?
The software developers and analysts from Cengage Learning who attended had an overwhelmingly positive experience in the Agile Coach training seminar. Here’s what they had to say:
“I have followed the Agile software development methodology for the past eight years and in the Agile coaching class I was able to learn new techniques that will help improve the efficiency of my team. In addition, I learned things that will not only make me a more effective coach but also a more effective leader and communicator.”
“In the Agile coaching class, I learned new and better ways of doing ‘traditional’ Agile functions. For example, I learned how to avoid ‘zombie scrum’ to get better information and more team interaction during the daily stand-ups.”
“I left the two-day training event feeling invigorated and better prepared to be the leader Cengage and the development teams need me to be. I plan to share my new perspective with others on a continuous basis so that they also benefit from my experience and I plan on expanding my own learning as I practice my new Agile facilitation and coaching skills.”
Based on these positive results, we’re looking forward to future Agile Coach training experiences in Boston—and beyond!