Mentor, Trainer & Coach – as described by the Agile Community

Some posts are too valuable to just stay as a post, it needs to be documented for everyone to read atleast once. When you ask for a clarification from the Agile community, they never disappoint you. Hearing things like “Training and Coaching are the same” or “My mentor is <an influencing personality who died a century ago>” – I started to question my own understanding of what they really are. Have I been thinking wrong the whole time?

So, I decided to throw the question out in public and let the community decide and help me restore my faith on the differences between (an Agile) Mentor, Trainer and a Coach. I have managed to categorise them in 4 parts to narrow down any duplication as follows-

A simple and effective visual to settle the Debate


Julie Hendry wrote about above – “As a coach you can be called upon to take different roles … much like a consultant’s something from Jerry Weinberg that helps describe the stances I use in agile coaching practice…having said that training as a part of coaching practice doesn’t replace the need for formal trainers in my opinion.”

To this Paul Boos‘s view was – “… these are all potential roles a coach can take… And I am thinking a very different model from most. I think where the responsibility of delivery and responsibility for improvement are the axes… This would be 1/3 of the roles one might take on as a coach… Oh wait coach isn’t a role of a coach (no recursive refs), so 2/9….”

Clear Explanation by Community members

Rick Waters decided to clearly distinguish the roles in a “Lucid. Brief. Practical” –

“Mentor: Did you see what I did there?… Trainer: This is what you could do there… Coach: Do you see what you did there?… Guide: What you might see over there is…”

Frederic Ducros extended Rick’s depiction by saying –

“Coach: What do you feel happened? Or What else would you consider doing? And I would add: 4) Agile #Facilitators. Coaching is a skill set on its own. Learning agile doesn’t teach you all the coaching mindset and skills required. I had not realise how much there was to coaching when I went through CSM CSPO…”

Sanjay Kumar wrote – “Trainer helps trainee gain new knowledge. Mentor helps mentee acquire new skills. Coach helps coachee explore and enhance their potential.”

Can of Worms – oops !

'No, please continue. We're finally making some progress.'

The Pyramid Scheme

Travis Birch mentioned “There’s even a pyramid scheme for this.”

This out of nowhere opened up a large can of worms which I wasn’t even thinking about while finding the right answer.

Kevin D. Martin described how consultancies are using the Pyramid scheme and these roles to harvest top salaries –

“Yes! One Agile Poser gets a gig, then brings on more agile posers to carry the water, skimming $$$ of the top. Classic mob business model.

Based on my experience 80% are Agile #Posers, until they are discovered to be none of the 3 categories you listed. Then they are Agile #Available for next robbery.”

The Certification Business

3 very interesting comments caught my eyes and changed the way I looked any certification business exists in the world today, not necessarily in Agile community.

Murali Varadarajan started it by saying – “It starts with the certifications model on who can sell, resell or receive a paper. Check the model of any popular framework.”

Jonathan Kessel-Fell replied – “You see a prime example of this within Agile through PSM / CSM or DAD / SAFe. One you can self study, discuss in a group and gain for a one off payment of $150. The other has a huge sales team, you have to pay for their training and have to pay an on going fee.”

Julie Hendry extended the fact by saying – “I don’t see it as any different from ITIL, PMI, CMMI, any vendor certifications… most certifications are a commercial venture not a learning service. And folks eat it up – providers and customers!”

Mentors, Trainers and Coaches – Take “Agile” out of it

Reading all the views and analysing the outcomes it was clear that a Mentor, Trainer and Coach have resemblance on any industry and not just in Agile community. We have a tendency of adding “Agile” to everything which automatically seems like unique but it isn’t.

So Tom Mellor decided to finally explain the way I learned it to begin with – “There are people who understand agility and mentor others in understanding it. There are people who understand agility and teach train agility values, principles, practices and thinking, and guide people in understanding agility and practices. There are people who coach people to use their knowledge of agility and practices more effectively and become more proficient in agility.

So, there are mentors, trainers, and coaches who understand agility and help people understand it. I don’t believe there are agile mentors, agile trainers or agile coaches.”


Non-collocation is an Impediment with solutions – exactly like..

While reading the post/comments on an online conversation about non-collocated teams, I felt the need to summarise my views on the discussion separately.

If you don’t believe that non-collocation is a challenging impediment, here are 3 videosto prove that they are.. ALWAYS.

Emails in Real Life

A Conference call in Real Life

Oh you want to do a Video Conferencing? How about all other participants?

You having a lightning fast internet connection doesn’t help remaining participants with speed as low as 2Mbps or worse.

Watch this:

A Video Conference Call in Real Life

Let’s look at the Solutions, to make it work !

Preserving Normality When You Can

  1. Stay in contact
  2. Talk about the mundane, little things
  3. Visit Often
  4. Get to know each other
  5. Remember non-collated team members are humans
  6. Support each other, even over the distance
  7. Create trust
  8. Be committed to each other
  9. Don’t do anything irrational just because you’re angry or upset about something they’ve said or done

Doing Things Together and Bonding

  1. Share something
  2. Do the same things at the same time
  3. Learn together
  4. Make each other feel special
  5. Pursue common interests
  6. Create connection

Setting Expectations and Boundaries

  1. Discuss the nature of your relationship
  2. Talk through doubts, uncertainty, and fear together.
  3. Remain positive.
  4. Have reasonable expectations.

Truth about this Article

Being non-collocated is a challenge and is a reality that we all have to face in this digital world. A long distance relationship have very similar impediments but because we give a shit and we love that person, we try our best to maintain it.

The truth about this article is –

ALL of it’s content are copy/pasted from this Original Source .


This original article is about “Long Distance Relationship and how we can do our best to keep our loved one closer. After all, that’s all we can do to maintain a healthy relation.

Non-collocation is an Impediment with solutions, exactly like… Long Distance Relationship !

Thankfully, we already know how to deal with those impediments from our personal life experiences. Apply them. The goal is to remove those impediments gradually so the long distance stays a temporary work around. Please don’t make the mistake of asking people work in non-collocated teams for too long.


WWWA: #4 Fun is secretly frowned upon in most workplaces

WWWA = What’s Wrong With Agile


X: I have a great idea of doing it in a fun way.

Y: We aren’t getting paid for having fun. Get back on your slides.

A quick recap to the goal of this series, which will stay same on every following article – to make some space in our brains for this to stay in:


#1 – Agile is widespread, the Agile Manifesto isn’t

#2 – Harsh critics of Waterfall or Agile (or Bacon) are Awful Researchers

#3 – Experience in a Customer Service role is mandatory to understand Agile

#4 Fun is secretly frowned upon in most workplaces

A client requested me the other day to come and give an “Elevator Pitch” on Agile, to all their teams. They have a fun atmosphere they said, always making employees happy. So a counter request followed from my side – “Great, can I give the pitch on the park while we soak up the sun?” The client’s rep looked perplexed and said “I don’t think my manager would authorise me to arrange it or even pay for the arrangements”.

He is right, simply doing his job. A company asking for an “Agile” pitch obviously don’t know what Agile stands for or is capable of. That’s when we come in as Agile practitioners. We take the burden of making them realise what they are missing out. Work can be fun and most Agile related workshops, sessions and training rooms are full of such activities for that very reason.

When you are having fun, you take personal measures to do it right.

When was the last time you had fun?

Usual Stories – ***All events and characters are fictitious, no animals are harmed and any form of resemblance is a mere coincidence*** 😉

1) Over the weekend when I mixed few drinks for fun I pissed myself near the ATM, got proper wasted while bar hoping and woke up on a strangers bed.

2) That holiday in Prague, when I finally had a lie in for 7 days with no actual visit to any touristy spot ! Well, my wife do hate me for that. Hard to care when I was that relaxed.

3) Last year when we had that poolside BBQ, the whole neighborhood joined us without an invite and trashed our place. Ironically it turned to be a great fun overall.

What triggered these (un)fortunate events?

1) I hate my work, it’s full of miserable pathetic corporate bureaucrats. Finally the weekend is here, now I can pull my tongue out my manager’s arse.

2) I worked hard for months, so I deserve the lie in, even if I have to spend a fortune on hotel rooms and wasting the site-seeing opportunities with my family.

3) It’s fun to have distant family members come over for a BBQ. It changes our focus towards “the better side of life”. I need a work-life balance.

Am I getting through to you yet?

If you love your work, you won’t “schedule” a date to have fun

I love my job. Although the fact of life is, not everyone loves their job. In fact, some of us are even in the wrong job due to financial pressure. Because it’s a job, paying for the bills and letting us survive in the rat race.. or dare I say the rat wheel. Reason why in every CV there’s a section called Hobbies, Interests or Other Professional Activities.

Ever wondered why we have the hobbies section in our Resume/CV? That’s where our definition of “fun” lies.

Because it’s a notion in most workplaces that these “activities” are not permitted at work and are frowned upon as they are not considered as work you are getting paid for. Not saying that we should allow all employees to “Watch TV” or “play Counter Strike” at work everyday. But we can allow half a day every month on a chosen activity which is a popular demand. Make it a brown bag session and use it to know the people better. Use it to train and coach without a power point slide. Invest on personal relationship for a long term goal.

Fun breeds Creativity, Common Sense and Purpose – that’s what “Agile” is all about

If you can’t have fun, you can never be agile. Agile is not about software anymore, it used to be. The Agile Manifesto above basically states the obvious which we should know better anyway but in workplace we don’t as most of us are a different person at work than in real life. A classic depiction of that habit in 3mins from the popular show –

When we have a fun activity, it makes us happy.

When we are happy we take interest and learn faster like a child.

When we take interest and evolve, we tend to give our best at whatever job we are in, whether we like it or not.

When we do our best at the job we get recognition, satisfaction and the urge to do it better continuously.

When we do all this, Agility smiles standing on one corner for making you feel good about yourself, about your colleagues and your workplace. Suddenly, the weekend doesn’t interest you as much, you might already had a few drinks during the week. You see Monday mornings in a very different way and NOT posting a status update on social media saying “Mondays are Shit”. Be agile and see the difference, it’s on your best interest.