Uncovering Coaching Stories

I started coaching a new team recently. Before taking on the role I went through a useful exercise to “uncover the coaching stories”*. The aim is to understand why a potential customer thinks that they need a coach (or more usually, why they think that they need an Agile process because they want a coach to help them introduce it).
By exploring the answers to questions such as:

  • What is the problem?
  • How does the problem manifest itself?
  • Who wants a solution?
  • How will we know that the problem has been solved?
the customer and I start to get a feel for how difficult the engagment is, how much organisational support for change there is, and (crucially) whether we will be comfortable working together.
Although I find this useful I don't claim that it is a unique approach: Jerry Weinberg's consulting books were my original inspiration, and I heard from Andy Pols that Alistair Cockburn also interviews his prospective clients (in his case as a client selection process as well as an information gathering exercise).
Reflection:Would this approach work for you? How could you find out?

* Keith Braithwaite and I touched on coaching stories in a presentation we gave back in 2002. The basic idea is that customers have stories for a coach just as they have stories for a development team, although the scope and nature of coaching stories are typically very different from development stories.