Five Must Do's for Innovation Coach Selection


Jerry, Mike, and Naomi talk through the Apex Systems process for selecting the right coach for a transformation, and why we consider it one of the must-do's for enterprise-level innovation.

Lisette Diamant : 0:01

Welcome to Digital Reimagined, a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems. I'm Lisette Diamant, Apex Systems' Digital Brand Manager, and I'll be your host. On today's episode of Digital Reimagined, we build upon the must haves for innovation at the enterprise level. So we've been discussing in the work that we do along design thinking, prototyping, and today's episode is really about selecting the right coach for the work that you need done. And so here with me in our virtual recording studio, I have Naomi Kent, one of our Player/Coaches here at Apex Systems, Jerry King, who leads our Agile practice, and Mike Corson, who's VP of People and Culture. Thank you all so much for being here for a rich discussion today.

Naomi Kent : 0:50

Glad to be here. Glad to be back actually! I had a great experience last time.

Jerry King : 0:53

Thank you for having me. I'm really looking forward to this. Yeah, definitely looking forward to the conversation.

Lisette Diamant : 0:58

Great. So Jerry, in your experience here at Apex Systems, how do you define our Player/Coach model? So the Player/Coach model, it's really our core piece within Apex Systems, because initially we actually challenge all of our consultants, to be Player/Coaches. So whether you're playing a role as a developer, a tester, you're also bringing a ton of experience and guidance and you're able to coach by doing. But we also have the more classic Player/Coach role, where we're partnering with our clients through transformations. So really, the whole premise is that we're not just coming in as a coach to help guide, we're actually helping to play a critical role within a transformation or a delivery or even a strategy initiative. And Mike, as you've seen with our Player/Coaches here at Apex Systems, how would you say that they really differentiate and how would you say that we've continued to grow in really being able to select and find the right people to take on these roles?

Jerry King : 1:56

Yeah, so the Player/Coach model, to what Jerry had talked about there, there's the Agile Player/Coach, but really, it's with all of us. They're doing their main aspect within their job, but they're also helping coach their teammates and lead by example. I would say leading by example is a phrase that we use a lot.

Lisette Diamant : 2:15

So expanding that a little further, Naomi in the work that you do, as one of our Player/Coaches, how do you execute upon that?

Naomi Kent : 2:23

So an almost day in the life of a Player/Coach scenario here: In my day today, I attended multiple Scrum meetings as a Scrum Master role for two teams, and then I played a Coach. So because they were further along in their maturity, I had stepped back as a Scrum Master and grew another leader from within the team to be a Scrum Master themselves. And then at the same time, I also had some meetings with higher level leadership on what the concept of value is and how to work on their backlog to start prioritizing at a higher level in the organization. So over the course of the day, I'm putting on different hats in the different levels of what we expect from a Player/Coach, and being able to adapt to the different scenarios across the board.

Lisette Diamant : 3:06

Mm, now asking this question out to the group, why is it so integral to have the right Player/Coach to enable innovation at the enterprise level?

Naomi Kent : 3:16

I can jump in first, there's multiple different things, but you need to have the right person who can work with the people at the enterprise level. Not every organization is the same. So you need to have that resonance between the people who are involved. You need somebody who has some experience and background having the conversations at that level, to understand the needs and concerns of someone at an organizational transformation level. What a team worries about is very different from what a C-level team worries about, and you need to coach the conversations to the audience. So a coach needs to have the ability to talk at both levels because you need to get buy in at all levels. This is their organization, you're helping them. So you telling them how to do it is not necessarily the most effective way for them to move the needle forward. Part of it is listening to what they have to say, and saying, "hey, there's other ways you could do this." And then walk them through those opportunities. Quite often people really want help and they want a direction. And it's listening to them to find out what works for them. And then using the tools that we have in our own group to pull those out as needed.

Jerry King : 4:24

That totally makes sense, Naomi. And I think kind of feeding off that, while we'll find consistencies across clients and across transformations, and that's kind of the power of our Agile practice, every client has that sense of uniqueness and every individual has that sense of uniqueness. So I think when we're putting together our teams, we look at that. Yes, we look at the content knowledge and the industry knowledge, but it's also that personality and especially when it comes to transformations, Naomi, you hit it, is that they've been successful, doing a certain way for many years. And sometimes just having someone that connects, whether it's a personality connection, whether it's just something that is outside of the transformation, and how does that gel, and how do the different coaches interacting with each other? I know whenever I'm trying to put together a team, I'm going to look to try to bring somebody on my team where maybe I'm not as good in an area or I need to be able to partner with, and so that we kind of form together that sense of uniqueness.

Naomi Kent : 5:21

It makes for a stronger team as well.

Jerry King : 5:23

Yeah, absolutely.

Naomi Kent : 5:24

You can address any challenge.

Jerry King : 5:26

Right. Yeah. Certainly with the title of coach, typically, you're not thinking of asking for help. But you know, we have this practice here for a reason. So whether it's someone that you're working with at the same client or other Player/Coaches that we do have, being able to be comfortable asking for help, asking for other people's insights, that there, the combination of our Player/Coaches and the community that we have, that's what makes the individual Player/Coach that much more successful.

Lisette Diamant : 5:58

Amazing. Are there any Final Thoughts?

Jerry King : 6:01

I think the only final thought is the underlying reason for finding that right player coaches is about the relationship, I think. And everyone asks, "What's that number one success?" And we say building a strong relationship with your business lead that you're hoping to mobilize. And if you do that, a lot of the other stuff kind of comes. But it's that number one focus first. And in order to do that, you have to find that right person or group of people that can help build that relationship and feed off that.

Lisette Diamant : 6:29

Well thank you all so much for joining today on this episode of Digital Reimagined. So we've been able to really delve into a lot of the key points on why it's so integral to the success of the enterprise to have that right coach and in our case, the right Player/Coach for our clients needs. Thanks again, Jerry, Naomi, and Mike.

Jerry King : 6:47

You're welcome, it was fun.

Naomi Kent : 6:48

Thank you!

Mike Corson : 6:49

Thank you, it was a pleasure.

Lisette Diamant : 6:55

Digital Reimagined is a podcast brought to you by Apex Systems, produced by Taylor Hawkins. The music you heard was Do Ba Do, by Otis Galloway.