A few of weeks ago I attended a 3-day workshop given by Trans4mation which was entitled, Agile Transformational Leader. They are a relatively new company that is focusing on the agile adoption, now transformation, space. They are led by Michele Madore and Michael Spayd. Michael is well known in the agile coaching space, having founded ACI with Lyssa Adkins. And Michelle is a very seasoned enterprise-level agile coach. They both co-taught the workshop with Stuart McCalla.

One of the backdrops for the course is the Leadership Circle assessment tool for leadership affinity. It wasn’t clear to me going into the workshop just how pervasive this tool/model was in their material. To say that it is “central” is probably an understatement.

In this post, I want to share some of my observations and learnings associated with the workshop.

What was I looking for?

Going into the workshop, and this is a little embarrassing to admit, I was looking for tools. That is: frameworks, templates, checklists, patterns, models, etc. that would assist in agile transformations. Mostly anything that would help me in my Enterprise-level agile coaching efforts.

To be even more transparent, I was looking for ideas to help augment my thinking, focus, references, and covered topics for my Certified Agile Leadership class. I find myself looking to continuously evolve it and taking this class was part of my personal growth strategy to influence that workshop.


First of all, the class was very well run. While you may think this is simply tactical, I’ve found that many workshops don’t sweat the details when putting on a class.

The Trans4mation folks did a great job with the facility, workshop logistics, and break out session dynamics. It was thoughtfully put together and that came through in the workshop.


The biggest theme in the workshop was that:

Leadership is a critical success factor in any agile transformation

And that leaders needed to begin the transformation on the inside. That is, first with themselves.

The intent was an inside-out view of your leadership capabilities. So, if you were an organizational leader attending the class, then it would be inspiring you to become introspective. Which is a reasonable first step.

While I get the “begin from within” theme, I still think most of the folks in the room were not line-leaders. In other words, they had very little or inactive leadership experience. Many were from:

  • Change management
  • Project management
  • Agile Coaching

Roles, so that they were looking for ways to help guide leaders in agile transformations rather than BE the leader. From that perspective then, the workshop was lite in content.

My Biggest Personal Aha!

I think my biggest aha had nothing to do with the class materials.

Instead, it focused on how Michele and Michael conducted the class. It was fairly interactive and they tried to engage group discussion in a variety of ways.

They also co-presented or pair-presented the entire workshop with Stuart. There were three instructors in the workshop and we were actively engaged by a pair at all times. I really enjoyed watching this unfold and how it increased the effectiveness of the teaching.

It seemed quite natural and unrehearsed, although I’m sure there were some practice and method behind the scenes.

I’d like to try more and more of this pair-presenting in my own workshops as I grow. I’ve begun to more actively pair in my Certified Agile Leadership workshop and the results have been great so far.

The instructors also met at each break and over lunch in monitoring, fine-tuning, and adjusting the workshop on the fly. Seeing this happen so organically was inspirational as well.

Again, it inspired me to become more mindful of “reading” the energy and flow of my workshops and being more focused on real-time adjustments.

Some Healthy Critique

I felt that the Leadership Circle references were a bit overwhelming. It’s not that the circle is not helpful. It’s just that we were only given a personal assessment opportunity and then the results were alluded to incredibly often within the class.

If the circle is intended to be a centerpiece of the workshop, then I would recommend they include a 360 degree assessment as part of the workshop prerequisites. I think the resulting discussion would be much more nuanced and balanced.

I also felt that the focus on “inside out” was too strong a focus as well. I could tell that the coaches in the room, like myself, were left looking for more tools to help in guiding transformations. And the class clearly left us wanting more at the end.

I also wish there was a bit more modeling in the class. That is situationally showing us (modeling) how to engage leaders in transformational coaching. We did a little bit of this, but I think we could have done a lot more to make the learning more actionable.

Wrapping Up

All of this being said, I would strongly recommend the class.

Particularly for those who are looking for a bit of introspection as part of their leadership engagement with an agile transformation.

The insights into your personal Leadership Circle assessment will be helpful. And the class interactions, at least in my class, were quite powerful.

I think I’m still “digesting” the class as I write this, which is good. It implies that I was touched by it and the learning. In our class debrief I mentioned that I had an “idea backlog the size of Montana” as a result of the class. And I stand by that. Much to think about and take action on. Now if I can just effectively prioritize that sucker.

Michele and Michael – thank you for putting together a powerful, thought-provoking, and much needed workshop.

Stay agile my friends,


Follow-up, Added on September 18th, 2017

After I posted this article, about a week later, Michael & Michele reached out to me to talk about some of my comments. At first, I was a bit taken aback. Had I said something wrong? Or offended them in some way?

But after we got on the call, I realized that they were intently listening to my constructive comments and honestly interested in improving the class experience.

We spent about an hour discussing the class. What I’d learned, observations I’d made, and potential adjustments to the content focus and flow.

Of particular interest was the role that the Leadership Circle played in the class. And how to effectively “deploy it” to the students.

In the end, I felt like I’d had the opportunity to contribute something special to the evolution of their class. Both Michael and Michele were consummate interviewers and listeners when it came to my sharing my thoughts.

But you know, I would expect nothing less from the both of them. They are the consummate agile coaches –

  • The walk their talk;
  • They are not ego or self-focused;
  • They are unique in their journey;
  • They are continuously improving;
  • They are open-minded;
  • They are incredibly interested in helping agile transformations.

I wanted to add this note to this post as I think it amplifies the honesty and intent of this workshop and the presenters. Michael & Michel, I appreciate EVERYTHING you do. Keep discovering your purpose and improving the transforming agile community.

Thank you!