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I am halfway through my intense 6 month certification process from the Co-Active Training Institute to become a CPCC – Certified Co-Active Professional Coach. Around 130 people are holding me in my journey, willing and supporting me every step of the way, as I make progress towards my most resonant life. One of these beautiful people is my individual supervision coach – Judith Cohen, who encouraged me to explore the connections between my two worlds – Co-Active Training Institute’s #coactivecoaching and the scrum I learned from Ken Schwaber and I found so many parallels…


Co-active Coaching is a way of guiding conversations that help coachees discover ways to live their most fulfilling, resonant lives. It is a container inside of which the coach helps clients discover and make resonant choices, moving forward towards their life purpose.

Similarly, Scrum is a container in which Scrum Teams and Stakeholders apply Scrum principles, values and practices to move forward towards the Product Goal, stay true to the DOD and live the Scrum Values.


The coach is the Scrum Master. The coachees are the Product Owner, Developers and the Stakeholders in the organization. However, Co-active Scrum need not apply just to conversations between the Scrum Master and coachees. It can positively influence other conversations within and around the Scrum Team.


In Co-Active Coaching, the designed alliance guides the relationship between the coach and the coachee so it is like an effortless dance towards the coachee’s life purpose.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, the designed alliance is like a working agreement that guides the Scrum Master’s (Coach’s) interactions with the PO, the Developers and Stakeholders (Coachee’s). it helps the coachees move towards the Product Goal, stay true to the DOD and live the Scrum Values. Dissonance in the coaching relationship is often an opportunity to revisit the Designed Alliance. You can learn one possible approach to co-create a Designed Alliance in my blog – How To Design An Agile Coaching Alliance. 


Before entering into a coaching relationship, it would help the Scrum Master to first discover the purpose that is calling potential coachees – the PO, Developers and Stakeholders. Un-named, unrecognized, festering mis-alignment between the coach and coachee’s rarely results in an effective co-active coaching relationship. You can learn one possible approach to manage this risk in my blog – The Roots Of Agile Suffering


The cornerstones of Co-Active Coaching are fundamental beliefs through which the coach (Scrum Master) looks at the coachees (PO, Developers and Stakeholders). There are four cornerstones which can be adapted to the context of Scrum Coaching…


In Co-Active Coaching, this cornerstone reminds the coach that it is not their job to solve problems for the coachee. Their job is to create a space in which the coachee discovers the solution to their own problems. Because coachees are blessed by the universe with all that they need to solve their problems.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, this cornerstone can be expanded from the individual coachee context to the whole Scrum Team context – ‘People and Scrum teams are naturally creative, resourceful and whole’.

As Ken always reminds Scrum Masters when the Scrum Team faces a seemingly difficult problem – first “Ask the team!”.


In Co-Active Coaching, this cornerstone helps the coach detach from their pre-conceived agenda and approach for guiding their coachee.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, this cornerstone can be expanded to include empiricism, encouraging the Scrum Master to surrender to the wisdom of the crowds – ‘Be empirical, dance in the moment’.


In Co-Active Coaching, this cornerstone reminds the coach to include all aspects of the humanity of the coachee and not reduce their existence to the narrow definition of a role or a job.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, this cornerstone can be expanded and elevated to include the whole Scrum Team – ‘Focus on the whole person and the whole Scrum Team’.


In Co-Active Coaching, this cornerstone reminds coaches to enable a fundamental, elemental, lasting shift or transformation in the coachee.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, this cornerstone needs no adjustment. This is the bread and butter of the Scrum Master – enabling lasting transformation in the Product Owner, the Developers and Stakeholders in the Organization so that they achieve the Product Goal, stay true to the DOD and living the Scrum Values.


The co-creators of the Co-Active Coaching model – Karen and Henry Kimsey-House eloquently say that the contexts are the ground we walk on. They must be present in every single coaching conversation. there are five contexts of Co-Active Coaching – listening, intuition, curiosity, deepen/forward, self-management.

Similarly, Ken Schwaber and Jeff Sutherland say that Scrum Values – courage, focus, commitment, respect and openness are the lifeblood that breathe life into Scrum. Without Scrum Values, Scrum is like a lifeless skeleton – robotic, ritualistic, and ineffective.

Co-Active Scrum Coaching has ten contexts – the five contexts of Co-Active Coaching and five Scrum Values.


In Co-Active Coaching, a principle is an approach the coach intentionally selects to help the coachee move forward towards their life purpose. There are three principles – fulfillment, balance and process. Each is appropriate in a different context. A key skill in Co-Active Coaching is for the coach to listen for the principle the coachee is calling to be coached from.


In Co-Active Coaching, the principle of fulfillment helps coachees make choices that are aligned with their life purpose and core values.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, this principle might help when the Scrum Master detects a longing to fulfill an unmet need – the unmet need to optimize value (Product Goal, Sprint Goal), the unmet need for technical excellence (DOD) or the unmet need for a fulfilling, ‘Scrum-patible’ culture (empiricism, self-management, scrum values).


In Co-Active Coaching, balance can help the coach get the coachee get unstuck from beliefs that are no longer serving them.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, the Scrum Master could consider this principle when the Scrum Team or Stakeholders are stuck in unhelpful  beliefs, habits and processes that are preventing them from achieving the Product Goal, staying true to the DOD and living the Scrum Values. Coaching from the principle of balance would help coachees get unstuck by looking at their challenges from fresh perspectives – Scrum Principles, Scrum Values, Scrum Roles, Scrum Events or Scrum Artifacts.


In Co-Active Coaching, the principle of process helps coachees experience all the ups and downs of their lives and be with emotions that they have trouble being with.

In Co-Active Scrum Coaching, this principle might help the Scrum Master when unprocessed emotions are preventing coachees from discovering wisdom that might set them free and realize their purpose – achieving the Product Goal, staying true to the DOD and living the Scrum Values.


If this model calls, you, explore it further by learning more…

What Is Co-Active

What Is Scrum

What Is Co-Active Scrum – Contact us to see how we can help you integrate these powerful frameworks


As you walk this path, remember that just like Scaled Professional Scrum is Scrum, Co-Active Scrum Coaching is Co-Active Coaching. All the cornerstones, contexts, principles and practices of Co-Active Coaching must be upheld in Co-Actives Scrum Coaching.

Good luck!

Ravi Verma
Post by Ravi Verma
July 13, 2021
Ravi Verma is a Public Speaker, Agile Coach, Professional Scrum Trainer, Evidence-Based Management Consultant, and Blogger passionate about helping teams recapture the magic of making IT. As the Founder and CEO at Org Whisperer, Ravi blends ideas from the world of Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Organizational Development to develop strong teams and inspiring leaders at all levels of an organization. He recently co-founded his second startup - Al Dente, a platform that helps Agile coaches and organizations empirically improve business outcomes with Agile delivery frameworks like Scrum. 

Ravi has around 25 years of Software Delivery and Consulting Experience, including Agile Enablement for companies ranging from 10 people to 10,000 people. He is able to earn the trust and respect of C-Level executives and help them understand how the application of Agile Principles, Values, and Practices can become a powerful means to achieving sustainable competitive advantage.

Ravi has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Engineering from R.V.C.E., Bangalore, and a Masters in Entrepreneurship from SMU, Dallas. Ravi received a Certificate in Organizational Development from DePaul University and Linkage Inc. and is an MBTI Certified Practitioner, with a Certificate in Advanced Conflict Resolution from Kilmann Diagnostics. He has also been trained in facilitating workshops for leading organizational change based on the book “Leading Bold Change” by Dr. John Kotter workshops.