AgileTour Dublin Oct 1st 2019

The program for this years AgileTour Conference is online, with early bird registration (€40) available till 31st August – tickets are selling fast – so book your place for Irelands premier community conference on all things agile and lean in software development and Information Technology.

Heres a link to the program and registration.


AgileInnovation have been co-organising and sponsoring this conference since 2010. See you there!

Kanban Visualisation, Flow and Metrics Workshops – Cork and Dublin

Join us for one of our FREE Kanban Workshops on 21st May in Cork and 30th May in Dublin – see how managing Work in Process (WIP) in your software development teams is key to getting more work done, faster and with more predictability! In teams of 4-5 we’ll run a Kanban system, trialing different WIP limits, and collecting data as we go. We’ll then calculate key metrics such as Cycle Time, Throughput and Flow Efficiency and see how managing WIP is one of the most powerful tools for optimising the work of your teams. These are free to attend, evening workshops – click through for details on the Cork and Dublin sessions.

Kanban Work Visualisation Workshop – Galway 10th Dec 2018

Join us for a Kanban/Work Visualisation Workshop on 10th Dec in Galway – see how managing Work in Process (WIP) in your software development teams is key to getting more work done, faster and with more predictability! We’ll start with Pizza and networking at 6pm, and start the simulation at 6:30. In teams of 4-5 we’ll run a Kanban system, collecting data as we go. We’ll then calculate key metrics such as Cycle Time, Throughput and Flow Efficiency and discuss how managing WIP is one of the most powerful tools for optimising the work of your teams. Book your place on meetup

Download my Leadership presentation from ALI2018

Thoroughly enjoyed Agile-Lean Irelands conference in Croke Park, Dublin on Thursday last – some folks asked for my slide deck on Agile Leadership – heres a PDF version: Agile Leadership: from Efficiency to Effectiveness

It includes a small subset of the content in my 1 day Agile Leadership training module – designed to help middle and senior leaders support their agile transformations.

AgileTour Dublin – Dates Announced! 18th Oct 2018

We can now announce the dates for our annual community conference in Dublin – put this date in your diary: Thursday 18th Oct 2018. This will be another great chance to share experiences, tip and trick on agile with fellow practitioners, learn from others in the community, and to network and have fun!
And, as a non-profit, volunteer run event we are on the look-out for possible speakers! Would be great if you and your colleagues could contribute this year – present your experiences, talk about an important topic, run a small workshop.
The 7th Agile Tour conference is Ireland’s favourite agile event – an friendly, informal place to learn, to share experiences and to exchange ideas. It has grown from 30 participants in 2010 to 300 last year but retains a strong feeling of community. This year we will have some international speakers but keep a firm focus on our ever increasing local agile knowledge.
We are now looking for more speakers to tell their story. Whether you are a seasoned speaker or never presented before please send us your idea for a talk or workshop. See last years programme ( for sample abstracts. We are looking for 35min talks or 90 min workshops/tutorials.
Topics include but are not limited to:
– Agile Management & Leadership
– Collaboration, Teams and culture
– Agile outside IT
– Technologies and Tools in Agile
– UX/UI Design in Agile
– DevOps
The deadline for submission is May 31st . Please email your submission to Please include your title, abstract and short bio.
If you’d like any further information, or to chat about a possible submission, just get in touch –
Thanks in advance for contributing to this voluntarily run, community event!
Best regards, Colm

ALI Talk: Agile Leadership: Moving from Efficiency to Effectiveness

At the ALI Conference on  April 26th next, I’ll be presenting some of the latest ideas around agile leadership, with some personal experiences from my work supporting senior leadership teams transforming to agile:

The majority of agile implementations either fail completely, or deliver a fraction of their promise. Why so?

Most organisations and their leadership teams still follow prescriptive, efficiency based management paradigms, developed throughout the 19th and 20th centuries in a simpler, slower moving, more predictable world. Modern business, and software development in particular, must now deal with a level of complexity which refuses to play nice with traditional management approaches. Todays product development organisations are more akin to complex adaptive systems, which, by definition, implies the answer cannot be “figured out” in advance. No amount of analysis, design or planning our projects will allow us predict how they will unfold, what they will, or should, deliver or the value they will create.

So if we can’t predict how the future will unfold, how can we as leaders create plans, assign responsibilities, measure performance, make commitments to stakeholders?

Agile Leadership is about building resilient organisations – organisations that can adjust structure and reconfigure resources dynamically based on emerging challenges. Such organisations cannot be built on static, power based hierarchies. Information and decision-making authority must be deployed dynamically to where it is needed at a point in time.

Building such an organisation requires some fundamental changes to our leadership approach. In this short talk I’ll discuss some of the new priorities for leaders such as:

•The ability to set strategic direction or intent (what and why), while not committing to detailed plans (how)

•Leveraging the power of self-organisation by nurturing a shared common purpose, distributing power and developing leadership at all levels (“Eyes on, Hands off”)

•Building professional competence and a common doctrine across team members, resulting in mutual confidence and trust in others, in turn leading to speed and effectiveness.

•Aligning personal, team and organisational incentives thereby avoiding conflicts and even subversion of intent.

While only the tip of the iceberg in terms of agile leadership, these topics give a feel for the challenges and fundamental changes in approach leaders face in adopting agile. A true transformation requires knowledgable, persistent leadership, training and coaching at all levels of the organisation.

On estimates, commitments and guarantees….

Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself having the same conversation with three different client companies: ‘How do we get our teams to commit?’ There is usually a back story of frustration accompanying this question – the teams are not delivering what was ‘promised’, theres a perception they could do better if they tried harder, etc.

Of course, the basic tenet of agile is that we can’t predict the future – its too uncertain and therefore we need to keep our eyes open and work in a way that we can respond to unfolding realities as we move forward (that is, we need to be ‘agile’). So with that in mind, I differentiate between the following three terms:

Estimate: This is a guess, based on the information available at the time, of how long something will take to do (or how ‘big’ it is).

Commitment: This is where an individual or team commits to an endeavour – they will do their best to accomplish a certain goal or carry out a certain task.

Guarantee: This is a warranty – a promise that the goal will be achieved, the task completed by a certain time, come ‘hell or high water’. The word guarantee implicitly means 100% certainty. 90% certain is not a guarantee.

The trouble is, all too often these terms are conflated – they are interpreted by some as being one and the same. If you give me an estimate, it may be taken as a guarantee. Or if you do not deliver on time, you were not committed to the task. But these terms mean entirely different things. In the uncertain world of software development, an estimate cannot be taken as a guarantee. And regardless of how committed a team is to achieving an objective, there is still no guarantee they will succeed. If they don’t succeed, its not necessarily that they didn’t give it their best shot!

Think of a rugby team going out onto the pitch for an important game. Their form and that of the opposing team may indicate they are likely to win by 10 points or more (the estimate). The team are fully focused on winning – they will throw their bodies into the fray with unrelenting vigor and determination (the commitment). But theres still no guarantee they’ll win!