Personally I like how a coach in sports works. There is deep involvement. When the team wins, the coach wins and celebrates with the team. When the team looses, the coach suffers along with every member of the team. Sports coaches share their experience with the team and every single member. They get their hands dirty, show how to use new techniques and keep up practicing until the players or athletes really are good at the new thing.
Coaches in sports don’t expect the team members to figure out something on their own. They provide help actively and do provide instructions. The team members are the ones doing the work itself, sweat, feel the pain, etc. but they will usually not do something novel without first consulting with their coach. Coach and team essentially work in a synchronized fashion.
Does that mean that the sports team is dependent on their coach?
Once the game starts the coach is present but on the sideline. He is not the one in the middle of the action. He observes, he may signal something from the sideline, he may provide guidance, give instructions, offer some tips during a break. In team sports he may decide to replace one team member with another, if doing so seems to help the team as a whole. He seems to be in charge but only because the team respects him and allows him to play that role.
I’d like to explore a bit further whether the behavioral patterns of a sports coach are appropriate and helpful in the context of a software development team.
Another open question I have is whether the sports coach is in a similar position as management in a corporation. It may well be that in sports the organizational model is different from the traditional hierarchical organizational model most companies follow.
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