Meet Us

About ACI

Agile Coaching Institute develops competence and confidence in the profession of Agile Coaching, from the ScrumMaster of a few teams all the way to the Enterprise Agile Coach. We do this by evoking and catalyzing the development of Agile Coaches as agents of organizational (and societal) transformation, combining education, coaching, and mentoring within the Integral Agile Transformation Framework™.  We provide rich, transformational programs, as well as thought leadership, in the emerging field of Agile Coaching. We have trained over 4,600 Agile Coaches over the past 6 years as we do our best to give definition to Agile Coaching as a true profession.

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 course. 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, The Agile Manager, and we completed the Agile Coaching development path with the launch of the Competence Cohort for Agile Coaching Mastery, a rigorous practice-based 10-month certification program.

In 2016, we are launching a sister company, Trans4mation, to bring the insights gained from our training experience into the world of coaching and consulting for organizational transformations. Going forward, Trans4mation will be the home of leadership development and training, including The Agile Manager workshop. This frees ACI to focus on its original mission of being a full-service training and development resource for Agile Coaches at all levels.

Lyssa – left

Lyssa loves to be in nature.

Lyssa Adkins

Co-Founder and President

I believe that Agile is an emergent response that helps us thrive in our ever-increasingly complex, changeable and interconnected world. I am a passionate contributor to the discipline and profession of Agile Coaching and have trained many thousands of agilists in the knowledge, skills, and mindsets needed to coach teams and organizations to get full benefits of Agile. In 2010, I authored Coaching Agile Teams which is still a best seller years later.

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. 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 hold an alphabet soup of certifications: ACI Certified Teams Transformation Coach (CTTC), Scrum Alliance Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC), ICAgile Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC), 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.


Michael lives on an island.

Michael K. Spayd

Co-Founder and CEO

In a word, my professional work is about transformation. I have found that I am wired to help people–and systems–change. I am drawn to cutting edge ‘technologies’ for coaching and developing organizations, leaders and teams. As an organizational change coach and consultant for 20 plus years, I have worked with Fortune 1000, small businesses and non-profits. For 13 years I have specialized in large-scale Agile transformation, working with numerous organizations, leaders, and scores of teams.

My training as a Team and Organizational Coach created a foundation for my approach, plus training in executive coaching, organizational behavior, organization change and consciousness transformation. A Co-Active leadership program was particularly influential in my own leadership journey, and in coaching others on theirs. Formal credentials include Certified Organization and Relationship Systems Coach (ORSCC), Certified Professional Facilitator (CPF), ICAgile Expert in Agile Coaching (ICE-AC), SAFe Program Consultant (SPC) and Certified Scrum Master (CSM). I am currently working on a book in the Mike Cohn series called Coaching the Agile Enterprise. An excerpt of that book, introducing the Integral Agile framework, was released in January 2014.


Michael spends the holidays in Rome.

Michael Hamman

Dir Agile Leadership Training & Development

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.

Erika Smith

Erika keeps the home fires burning at ACI in her position as Training Events Coordinator. She is the public face of ACI to the thousands of students we serve each year. We call her the Admin Goddess, and that is no exaggeration.

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.

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, co-creator of ACI’s course The Agile Facilitator, and leader of the Competency Cohort for Agile Coaching Mastery.

Clive Prout Headshot for website

Clive Prout

Clive holds a Masters degree in manufacturing engineering from Cambridge University and had a first career in the software industry. He has held software engineering and product management leadership roles in Europe and the US, included P&L responsibility for a portfolio of networking software products at Network Computing Devices in the late ‘90s.  For the past 15 years, Clive has been coaching leaders to increase effectiveness, self-awareness, and fulfillment. His clients are predominantly executives in the technology sector with Microsoft, T-Mobile and Aol being recent examples. In addition to his executive coaching practice, Clive has 10 years experience training professional coaches for The Coaches Training Institute (CTI). He holds professional coaching certifications (ICF PCC, CTI CPCC) and is certified in several coaching instruments (MBTI, FIRO-B, Benchmarks 360 and LDF).

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.

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.