New Agile Coaching Assessment

Comparative Agility
5 min readDec 4, 2023

By Bob Galen
Author of the Agile Coaching Personal Improvement Assessment on Comparative Agility.

I published my Extraordinarily Badass Agile Coaching book in January 2022, and its impact on the agile coaching community has been profound.

One of my co-authors was Mark Summers. I’ve known Mark for quite a few years. He’s one of the most highly skilled agile coaches I know. He is incredibly humble and has tirelessly led the evolution of the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel as an Agile coaching community-driven effort.

As I closed on publishing the book, I approached Jorgen Hesselberg at Comparative Agility with an interest in designing an agile coaching skill and competency assessment on their Personal Improvement (PI) platform. I asked Mark to co-create the assessment, and he enthusiastically agreed to help.

We chose to build it based on the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel (ACGW) framework as a way of grounding it and having a well-rounded view of your coaching skills. Mark and I collaborated on the assessment for about six months and then released it in December 2021 — about a month and a half before the EBAC books’ publication.

Version 1

As I said, the assessment tool’s initial version emerged from late 2021 to early 2022 (January). It had 55 questions across nine overall competency areas aligned directly with the ACGW.

One of the things that Mark and I spent quite a lot of time on was providing sets of references (articles, books, videos, blogs, etc.) for each question to help coaches in their learning journey.

I often joke that we spent more time developing the references than on the survey. But that supports our primary intent of supporting continuous learning and growth by agile coaches. Of course, inspired by the ACGW.

Example question from the Advising Competency
Here’s an example question from the first version —

I am aware of the limitations of my knowledge and experience and I have the courage to say I don’t know or ask for help.

The answer would be on a Likert scale of 1–5.

As you can see, there’s a lot of room for interpretation, which can be good (simplicity) and bad (guidance for personal reflection). As you can see below, we learned a lot from the first version and respondent feedback.

ACGW evolution

When I first published Extraordinarily Badass Agile Coaching, the Agile Coaching Growth Wheel was still a work in progress by the community-based volunteer team maturing it. Sadly, they were more agile than I could be since I had a deadline to publish the book.

So, while the first edition of the assessment and the EBAC books are both based on the ACGW, it was a bit of a moving target, and both fell behind.

The good news is that the ACGW has stabilized mainly as of the 3.2 release, and the next version of the PI Assessment is based on this version.

Version 2

One of the inspirations for creating another version of the assessment was the data trending Mark, and I saw from the initial assessment.

Individuals were significantly over-valuating their experience. For example, all assessments’ overall coaching competency level was ~4.2 on a 5 Likert scale. When Mark and I saw this, our initial response was — the questions and the interpretation of competency level must be too lightweight as people are evaluating themselves at too high a level.

At the time, Mark and I looked at each other and needed help to evaluate ourselves at a 4.2 level, so we decided to add nuance behind the questions by alluding to the characteristics of each competency level definition. For example, here’s a question and level guidance for the Advising competency —

Rate your ability to become a trusted partner by building trust and creating strong and ongoing relationships.

Beginner — Demonstrate empathy as a first step toward becoming a trusted partner. Understand the need to be reliable and do what you say you will do.

Advanced Beginner — Recognize the importance of co-creating goals and agreements with your client. Understand your responsibility as a trusted advisor to challenge your client’s limiting beliefs and inertia.

Practitioner — Assess the quality of your collaborative efforts and the relevance of your proposed solutions in addressing client needs. Build trust and establish a long-term relationship and partnership with your client.

Guide — Provide context, options, reasoning, and space for your client to think about things of greatest importance to them. Demonstrate the ability to challenge assertions and assumptions in a careful but critical manner. Co-create outcomes.

Catalyst — Innovate and contribute to the evolution of the agile coaching profession by sharing your knowledge and insights with the community. Act as a thought leader in the agile coaching field, with a deep understanding of the intellectual, emotional, and financial needs of clients.

Yes, there is more reading to be done for each question. But can you see the detailed nuance to help someone more accurately interpret their competency levels?

The new version has 47 questions across nine competency areas aligned directly with the v3.2 Agile Coaching Growth Wheel.

This is a game changer for accuracy and growth action planning. This is the whole point of the assessment, dare I say it, becoming a Badass Agile Coach.

Wrapping Up

Jorgen, the Comparative Agility team, Mark, and I are incredibly excited to release this new version of the PI assessment.

I strongly encourage anyone who previously assessed themselves at v1 to try the v2 assessment. I think you’ll like the nuance and insights it emerges for you.

And if you are a Scrum Master or Agile Coach (of any sort), I’d strongly encourage you to take the new assessment. It will serve as a springboard for your learning and growth.

1. Mark Summers’ — BeLiminal group site
2. Agile Coaching Growth Wheel reference site
3. EBAC book available on Amazon
4. EBAC e-book available on LeanPub
5. EBAC book supporting website
6. Comparative Agility, Agile Coaching PI Assessment