Insights from CAL-1 Training

In early March I attended the Certified Agile Leadership-1 Training, hosted by Formula Ink and facilitated by Michael Sahota. This meaningful experience impacted me in ways I could never have anticipated. I am glad to share my reflections here and would love to continue my learning journey by connecting with others in the field.

I am a relative newcomer to the worlds of Agile Leadership and Organizational Growth. I have taken on leadership roles within nonprofit organizations for the last decade and have consistently been drawn to the systems-level work of supporting teams to make sustainable change. I have received some formal training while completing my Masters in Social Work and Nonprofit Management, and have strengthened my practice by devouring all of the literature and other related content that I can find.

It was during one such journey down the Google-fueled rabbit hole that I learned about and registered for the CAL-1 Training. I expected to gain knowledge and familiarity within a new-to-me field; to expand my professional consciousness by incorporating new frameworks, activities, and goals; and to learn from professionals across diverse industries who would bring their unique expertise and perspective to the work.

All of that (and more) happened. Here are just some of my takeaways:

  • The difference between “doing agile” and “being agile”, and the subsequent importance of shifting the mindsets of leaders as a step toward affecting organizational growth.
  • The value of prioritizing organizational growth that is strategic (“what do we want to achieve?”) and cultural (“who do we want to be?”) instead of tactical (“how do we work?”).
  • The limitations of — and solutions to — traditional ways of utilizing metrics and KPIs.
  • A nuanced understanding of models for organizational culture, structure and leadership.

As I left the CAL-1 community and re-entered my work, I internalized key lessons and felt equipped to make strategic updates to the way my colleagues and I work. Here are just some of the changes I implemented:

  • Shared Michael’s analysis that Organizational Culture lives at the intersection of consciousness and structure. The framework provided our Leadership Team with common language. I plan to utilize this tool in an upcoming activity that will align us with regard to purpose and process.
  • Incorporated new communication models with my team, which has helped us make quicker and more meaningful decisions, increasing our efficiency and impact.
  • Used the Virtuous Cycle model (illustrating the interlocking connection between staff, clients and financial gain) to articulate to agency leadership the quantifiable — and necessary — value of employee engagement and growth.

These changes immediately helped move us closer to strengthening our organizational culture, to establishing clarity within our structure, and to prioritizing employee engagement.


Now, more than a month later, I continue to draw on lessons from the training. I consistently refer back to my notes for clarity and guidance and have incorporated these new resources into my routine. The concrete takeaways have taken root within my practice and I am committed to nourishing their growth, weaving them in with my own perspective, experience and values.

And as these lessons settle, I find myself thinking about other meaningful moments that took place during our 2-days together — specifically, when Michael’s own core professional values of starting with self and prioritizing safety seemed to effortlessly pour out of him as he held the space for our community’s process.

I was unbelievably moved by his commitment to self-reflection and to the principle that standing in one’s truth is both the beginning and the anchor of the journey toward organizational growth. Michael reinforced our learning and modeled what that learning looks like in practice by authentically sharing his own process.

It’s the impact of those insights — the ones I recognized only after I continued my own journey — that will leave an enduring mark on my work and my life.