Fat funny dog by ichibod
My parents usually ask me about what it is that I do to make a living. Same with friends who are not in IT. I struggle most of the time. For me it's really difficult to explain what I do as an Agile coach - training, consulting, and coaching - to someone outside the Lean and Agile domain. And when I do, it sounds nerdy.
Not so the other day. Here's how the conversation went:
Dad: "So you're flying over to that customer of yours next week, right? And what is it actually you're doing there?"
I: "I show them ways to improve themselves by so called Agile and Lean methods. I do that with training, consulting and coaching."
That's the sound my father makes when he's not sure how to handle what I say.
Dad: "But what is it you do all day? How can I picture that?"
I: "Well, let's imagine my customer feels overweight."
My father is a little bit overweight.
I: "I can help overweight people. In the first meeting, the customer tells me his goals, what he wants to achieve. Sometimes his doctor showed him bad examination results, or he just does not feel good anymore with his body.
"After the first meeting I can roughly assess the situation, can tell if they are really overweight, or if they just feel overweight and the symptoms might caused by something else. Then I ask them if I should help them with the methods I know, like doing sports and optimize the diet. (By the way, my real methods are called Scrum and Kanban.)
"That's when I'm the trainer: I present my methods to the customer, so he knows what he's dealing with. Besides that he learns about the methods, we can establish a common language with words like 'resting heart rate' or 'metabolism', so we can talk to each other on a common ground."
Dad: "Okay, sports and another diet. Does not sound too complicated to me."
I: "No, and that's not why they call me. Everyone can look up those methods on the internet or read a good book about them. But there's more to it than just the training. There's also the consulting part.
"Take sports: I analyze the sports background of my customer, figure out how long he can run in 12 minutes (called the Cooper test), or what his resting pulse rate is. Based on that I develop a training program for him. Same with the diet: I measure his weight, his body fat, figure out what he eats all day. From that I develop a diet plan which should help him lose weight."
Dad: "Hm, but I've seen such plans in magazines. There are magazine for the stuff you do, too, are there not? Why do the customers pay you instead of buying a magazine?"
I: "Because I offer made-to-measure plans, only for that particular customer.
"But let's imagine my customer would find a good plan for his needs in a magazine, then he would still benefit from my work. This is where the coaching part comes into play. As a coach, I help my customer find his way through all that change that's necessary to lose weight."
Dad: "Aha. And that's what you do all day?"
I: "Jup. Hey! What's the meaning of that look of yours?"
Dad: "I don't mean to offend you, but... Well, it sounds so simple what you do..."
I: "Simple? Losing weight is simple? You know it's not."
We both look at his belly.
I: "Often customers want to lose weight, but at the same time they don't want to change their diet or start doing sports. If they are willing to change the diet, I have to explain again and again why they should eat less sugar and what's that got to do with their dicky heart.
"Sometimes the customer 'reframes' my advice. My advice could be drinking water instead of coke. After a while, the customer might not like drinking water anymore. It's just not tasty anymore. He might change to diet coke, which could complicate his health more than staying with the original coke. Then I'm there helping him to understand what he's doing and what consequences that means for him and his goals.
"Sometimes the customer can't get up and find the energy to go for a run, even he knows exactly that and why he should. Then I motivate him, show him the negative consequences if he does not run and the already visible positive consequences of what he achieved with all his running before.
"Sometimes the customers is so eager to lose weight, that he runs too much, e.g. every day instead of only thrice a week. Then I'm there for him, appease him and let him know about sustainable pace, that he's not ready yet to run that often.
"And there are thousands of other challenges I face at the customers every day when I coach."
Dad: "Wow, that's impressive! Didn't know you're doing all this at your work."
I think he was really impressed. And for the first time I think I could explain what I do for my living - training, consulting, and coaching - in a non-nerdy way.
If you are a not a nerd, do you understand, what I tried to explain?