David Lowe is an Agile Coach based in the UK and the co-creator and program lead for our ICAgile Accredited Agile Team Coach Cohort Program. In this interview, David shares why he is working on a doctorate about coaching and humour, how coaching helps people achieve their goals, and why it’s important to keep continually developing your coaching practice.
Hi, I’m David Lowe. I’m a business coach and trainer. I work with AWA, teaching the Agile Team Facilitation course the Agile Team Coaching course as well as the ICAgile Accredited Agile Team Coach Cohort Program. I work as a coach and trainer with multiple organisations, everything from start-ups to government. Tech and non-tech all the the way through to reducing suicide in prisons and looking at things like how to improve transplants within pharmaceutical companies. I have completed my PG Cert in coaching, and have recently started a doctorate in how humour can help coaching.
What do you most enjoy about the agile world?
The one thing I love about the agile world is that we try things, and we move slowly towards where we’re trying to get to rather than plan everything up front and then have some nightmare about well that’s not how we anticipated things happening, and therefore now we’ve got to replan everything for six weeks. It’s that moving forwards slowly, but certainly towards what we’re trying to achieve.
How did you first come to learn about agile coaching?
That came from at first trying to actually help people understand what agile is and why it might be useful to them and so to try and get them to actually do these things and have this mindset that they wanted to achieve their goals. Then it kind of slowly morphed into something else into actually helping them develop their teams of coaches within their organisations. So then I started looking outside agile and started looking into other forms of coaching, which I’m then pulling in to help the agile coaching.
What can you tell me about the impact that coaching has on agility?
I think the key thing here is that the answers aren’t coming from me, often as I was saying, when people ask me to go in and train their organisations or help them move from one place to another, they were asking me to help them move them from one place to another, and I think my understanding of coaching now, especially professional coaching, is that I’m not the one holding the answers and what I’m doing is that I’m helping them decide what they want to do. I’m helping them decide how they’re going to do it. And then I may be sharing some experiences along the way in terms of mentoring and things like that, but they’re the ones that are doing it. They own it, and it’s their successes rather than mine.
You are an ICAgile Authorized Program Lead for our ICAgile Accredited Expert in Agile Coaching Cohort Program. Why is this program so important?
So I love the ICAgile Agile Team Coaching course that we do because I see the impact it has on people that there’s those lightbulb moments. There’s a different point for each person who comes on the course but it makes this massive difference. And this cohort program takes that and then just delves into loads of these different areas and takes that impact onto a totally another level. But again, it’s people going through the program and learning about what’s important to them and what impact that their changes can have on other people.
What does it mean to be an expert?
To me an expert is different for each individual person, but there is a certain level of attainment and achievement that each expert will have. The key thing, I think, is more about what the person learns. So, for example, on my expert journey, I learned that humour is really important to me and yet when I’m coaching people I sometimes often strip this out and it becomes very dry and more about helping someone do this rather than actually letting my character come through. Whereas in the mentoring and the training and facilitation I let that happen and that’s kind of me. But it’s helping people realise what it is that they can do to excel in each of these areas.
This program sets a high bar…Why should I learn about this topic from you?
I’ve been through this. I’ve been in this industry. I know it doesn’t look like it with this baby face that I have, but I’ve been around the block a fair amount in the facilitation, teaching and the coaching and mentoring. But it’s also something that I love to do and so I am reading about this. I’m learning about that. I’m living the stuff that we talk about on the program. I’m journalling, for example, when I’m training, I’m journalling when I’m coaching and I’m looking and reflecting on how I can improve. So this is something that I’m continually on as everybody else who comes on the program will also be on.
Tell me about one thing you learnt recently that really made a positive difference to the work you are doing?
As part of the doctorate, I’m doing a study on facial recognition or micro-expressions and I’m looking in relation to humour about when I try something or when I say something in a coaching environment to see what response I get to that. One of the key things here is about learning from what the responses that people give and then changing your approach accordingly.
If you weren’t working in the agile and organisational change space what would you be doing instead?
I’d like to think that I’d be a comedian or a writer for a comedy show, but in reality, I always wanted to be a Lego designer. That was where I started. That’s why I studied some graphic design and stuff when I was a kid, but then kind of got side-tracked and dragged into this current world. But I’m not complaining, I enjoy where I am and I still get to use Lego every so often anyway.
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