Instructional Design Applied to Agile Coaching

Agile coaching requires observant facilitation with an ability to engage learners actively. This parallels almost identically with accelerated adult learning at the university level. “Guide on the side” instead of “sage on the stage” is a common mantra necessary for all effective facilitators to embrace when motivating adult learners. There are scores of interactive instructional strategies that not only provide relevance to the learners, but also allows for quantifiable assessment of the learning growth. However, for this post, I will focus on the instructional design that is the moving force behind effective facilitation effort.

Instructional design is just putting together the course, right?


It is a much more holistic picture of all curriculum/courseware/module, or whatever buzz term you favour. In my experience as the instructional designer for several degree programs at a small university, a huge takeaway has been the understanding of knowing what to standardize and what to customize.

Let’s look at the benefits of instructional design insight for developing multiple training programs or courses of any level.

  • Standardization allows focus on architectural improvements and shared collaboration across coaches.
  • Recreating content for different client contexts is no longer necessary.
  • The modularization of core components allows focus on tailoring courses to specific client needs at a much deeper and more effective level.
  • Everybody shares value and baseline improvements holistically, but can also modularize for personal use. Nobody teaches the same way, and never should courseware force a specific type of instructional methodology.

Any individual coach or organization that trains internally or externally wants a strong relationship with their learners. Internal coaching needs a strong relationship for better and smoother implementation efforts. External coaching needs to consistently improve relationships with their clients beyond the expectations of internal coaching. Another benefit to formalized instructional design techniques being applied to training material is that it improves relationships with the learners in the following ways.

  • Customization is improved for the client’s needed context before and after the course.
  • Coaches can apply beginner’s mind more effectively.
  • Modular pieces allow coaches to make courses more experiential.
  • Familiarity with content and structure allows coaches to breed active learning.

Of course, economics is always a question, even if it’s not the first one. Risk management questions need asked, including, is the cost worth the investment both financially and time-wise. Unfamiliarity with the purpose of instructional design can result in the belief that something so simple is not needed, and just one more step in the process anyway. Let’s look at the economic improvements for course development with instructional design techniques applied.

  • More quality time for coaches is available.
  • Consistent master documents represent a collection of all coach experiences for focused improvement.
  • Course development for a new client is faster with high quality.
  • Course development scales across personal techniques without changing the learning values.
  • Needed improvements are easily targeted.
  • Unnecessary re-invention is eliminated, allowing focused innovation.
  • Easier experimentation content is enabled.
  • Gap analysis is simplified for new course development.

While a book could be written on the value and techniques of instructional design for agile coaching, these are a few ‘down and dirty’ values that instructional design provides for training programs.

Written in collaboration with Eric Willeke

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About Marian

My passion is centered around ensuring effective learning experiences that improve people's lives. Developing a learning mindset is my ultimate goal whether working with academic programs or corporate training; formal or informal learning practices. It is my belief that our potential for agility is limited only by our capacity for learning.