Meet Us

The Agile Coaching Institute was founded by Lyssa Adkins and Michael K. Spayd in 2010. After establishing a strong agile coach training and development program — and earning the reputation as the thought leaders in the field of agile coaching — in 2013 we expanded our platform, completing the base agile coach curriculum (with The Agile Facilitator), adding new agile leadership offerings based on demand from coaches we had taught (adding Michael Hamman), and envisioned a more comprehensive organizational coaching offering, culminating with the release of the foundation of Michael Spayd’s book, Coaching the Agile Enterprise (Addison-Wesley). In 2014, we further expanded these offerings with the ultimate coach training — Agile Coach Bootcamps — plus workshops for managers and executives , and a new exploration of an Integral approach to Agile Enterprise Coaching, the Integral Agile Bootcamp. In 2015, we introduced a public class for managers, Managing Agile Environments and the Competency Cohort, a certification for Agile Coaching mastery.

The mission of ACI is to create and develop transformational leadership and leaders. We do this by evoking and catalyzing the growth and development of Agile Coaches and Agile Leaders as agents of organizational (and societal) transformation. We combine education, coaching, mentoring and consulting within an Integral and transformational framework to provide a rich program of training and mentoring, as well as thought leadership, in the emerging fields of Agile Coaching and Agile Leadership.

Why us?

Lyssa’s book, Coaching Agile Teams, has set a new high water mark for the practice of Agile Coaching. Michael’s work in the area of Agile enterprise transformation has shifted the discussion to the broader organizational world of culture, change and leadership. Michael’s forthcoming book, Coaching the Agile Enterprise, will take the industry one giant step further.  Both trained in the world of professional coaching, Lyssa and Michael have combined to help take the world of Agile Coaching to a new level of potential and professional rigor. To help us grow our impact, we have added a wonderful colleague, Michael Hamman, a specialist in agile leadership.

Lyssa Adkins

Since 2004, I have taught Scrum and Agile Coaching to well over a thousand students, coached many agile teams, and served as master coach to scores of apprentice coaches. In both one-on-one settings and small groups, I enjoy a front-row seat as remarkable agile coaches emerge and go on to entice the very best from the teams and organizations they coach.  With ACI, I have had the pleasure of training over 2,000 people in the skills and mindsets of great agile coaching. Prior to agile, I had more than fifteen years of expertise leading project teams and groups of project managers (I was even a PMO Director — twice!), yet nothing prepared me for the power of agile done simply and well. I believe that agile is more than an alternate project management methodology and I am passionate about deepening the roles in agile – specifically agile coach and agile manager – to help agile move into its fullest expression. I hold an alphabet soup of certifications: Certified Scrum Coach (CSC), ICAgile Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC), SAFe Program Consultant (SPC), Project Management Professional (PMP), Six Sigma Green Belt (SSGB), Organization and Relationship Systems Certified Coach (ORSCC) and Associate Certified Coach (ACC).  I am also a trained Co-Active Coach and Leader. In 2010, I authored Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches, and Project Managers in Transition.

Michael K. Spayd


From an early age, Michael has been wired to work with people and human systems. His one word purpose in life is transformation, for individual clients, for teams, organizational systems, but always beginning with his own transformation. Michael is a world leader in the Agile enterprise transformation space, currently authoring the book Coaching the Agile Enterprise, and the primary developer of the Integral Agile Transformation Framework™. He is a frequent speaker and sought-after teacher of Agile coaches, Enterprise coaches and executive leaders. Michael has been a leading voice in shaping the discipline of Agile coaching and Enterprise coaching with his work at the International Consortium for Agile, as well as development of the Agile Coaching Competency Framework.

In 2010, Michael co-founded the Agile Coaching Institute (ACI) with Lyssa Adkins, now considered by many to be the thought leader in the industry. As CEO, Michael has grown ACI from one course offering to three full-scale training and development programs for Agile leaders at all levels, leveraging a core staff of five leaders into a $2M company with a world wide footprint, a passionately dedicated student following, and a ground-breaking set of organizational practices.

Michael is a lifelong student of how to get the most out of himself, having taken immersive programs in leadership, professional coaching and facilitation, organizational transformation, psychology, as well as having survived two extended meditation retreats. He has a Masters degree in contemplative psychotherapy, is certified as a professional systems coach and professional facilitator, and maintains several Agile industry-related credentials. He lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest, in a magical town called Friday Harbor.

Michael Hamman

michaelHamman_headshot_ACI_Aug_2013_wedding For most of the past 25 years, I have committed myself to the possibility that the workplace be a site for personal, professional and social transformation.  Trained early on in coaching and large group facilitation with Werner Erhard and Associates, I went on to train in systems thinking, facilitation, organization development, and leadership development with Peter Senge, Peter Block, Thomas Leonard, Otto Laske, Marvin Weisbord, and with the Leadership Circle.  For 12 years I developed software, and coached and trained software teams in the beauty of design and teamwork.

This rich variety of background and training informs a unique approach to coaching agile teams and organizations that strives to see the whole system.  Over the last ten years, I have coached dozens of Fortune 500 companies, leaders and teams toward greater holistic agility. In the process I have helped hundreds of people develop their own capacity for agile leadership and practice.  Currently, my principle focus is in the areas of adaptive leadership and organization agility. I am working on a PhD in human and organizational development at Fielding Graduate University. I am Director of Agile Leadership Training & Development for ACI.


Our Faculty

Cynthia Loy Darst

Named “One of the Top Ten Most Influential Coaches in the U.S.,” Cynthia Darst is playful and inspiring, working with all kinds of people to move them past limitations and into action. She was one of the first to gain the designation of Master Certified Coach (MCC) by the International Coach Federation (ICF), was a founding leader for The Center for Right Relationship and The Coaches Training Institute, as well as being one of the founders of the ICF. Darst maintains a full roster of private clients including entrepreneurs, entertainment industry executives and corporate executives at Boeing, American Express, Wells Fargo, and Ernst & Young, among others.  Cynthia co-created The Coaching Stance course with ACI and lends her expertise to co-lead that course for ACI.

David Chilcott

David Chilcott has an unusual set of skills that encompasses both the deeply technical and the deeply human aspects of software development. In addition to his background as a system architect, software developer and agile coach, David holds a degree in group dynamics, and has completed formal training in creative problem solving, advanced facilitation, Innovation Games facilitation, non-violent communication (NVC), conflict resolution and Co-Active Coaching, and Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC). David is the founder of Outformations, a collaborative software design, development, and Agile consulting practice. He is a former board member for the National Agile Leadership Network (ALN) and is the founder of the Bay Area ALN. David is a lead coach for ACI’s Coaching Circles.

David Darst

David Darst, PCC, has been on the leading edge of coaching for well over 10 yrs. He is one of the first to be certified in the field of Relationship Coaching by the Center for Right Relationship (CRR), as well as being a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CTI). As a Senior Faculty member of both CRR and CTI he has had the opportunity to train thousands of individual and relationship coaches. David’s primary focus in the field of coaching is relationship, whether that be relationship with self, relationship with others, or even relationship with a project. He also has a special knack for identifying and unleashing potential, which has led him to working with individuals, corporate leaders, and high performance teams and partnerships around the globe. We are pleased to have David with us as a co-leader of The Coaching Stance.

Leslie Stein

Leslie has more than a dozen years of leadership, process efficiency, behavioral analysis, professional facilitation and training experience in a number of challenging environments. Her experience includes seven years in the U.S. Army, work in membership sales, television news production and in non-profit and association communities. She is sought-after as a professional facilitator and facilitation trainer. Leslie’s company, Full Circle Inspiration, focuses on inspiring groups and individuals to look for new perspectives when the ones they’re stuck in just aren’t working anymore. Her passion is bringing innovation to teams in order to help them use their own brilliance to improve communication and enhance success. Leslie calls herself a “Life Enthusiast” because if there’s some kind of challenge most people don’t want to tackle…she’ll give it a try. From flying CH-47D Chinook helicopters in the Army, to writing an inspiring book called Penny Perspectives: Let Go of Happily Ever After and Invest in Happily Ever NOW!, to completing her first half-ironman to taking lessons on the flying trapeze, Leslie doesn’t know the meaning of the words, “I can’t.” She is a co-creator of ACI’s course, The Agile Facilitator.

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Jon Sleeper March 7, 2013 at 1:26 am

Dear Lyssa and Michael,

I really like your website. It is very refreshing to find some people who are trying to establish a proper link between ICF-based Coaching and Agile. I am an Agile Project / Programme Manager / Coach with over 20 years experience working in IT and Finance in London and New York. That experience has taken me on a journey of both Waterfall and Agile projects. I am a passionate believer in Agile. In my view it is based on a simple premise that people drive technology and people need to feel motivated to do their job. If they are motivated they will deliver. I believe Agile provides the philosophy for that motivation but there is more to it. This is where Coaching comes in. I am currently training to be a qualified Life and Corporate Coach through a highly valued organisation called Coaching Development here in London. I am really enjoying this training. It is taking me on my own personal transformational journey which is exciting and energising. The training is teaching me about people and the power of the coaching and client relationship to motivate the client to achieve more fulfilment in the life. The combination of both Agile and true Coaching is extremely powerful. These are early days but certainly exciting times.

I will continue to visit your website as it is nice to see like minded people with similar goals and motivations to my own. If you come to the UK it would be great to meet up with you both.

Thank you again

Kind regards

Jon Sleeper

Lyssa Adkins March 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

Glad to meet a like-minded professional, Jon! Thanks for the affirmation of our direction. We love this work and absolutely believe that it is what the world could really use.

Good to “meet” you,
(and Michael)

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