By @SimonCocking interview with Colm O’hEocha  Director AgileInnovation, Trainer, Coach, Consultant in Agile, Scrum, Lean, Kanban.

 What is your background briefly?

I started my career designing and automating Lean production systems in electronics factories in the 80’s before spending over 20 years as a programmer, systems architect and finally Director of R&D. In 2001 I started using Agile methods like Scrum and XP to organise Software Development Teams, both as a team lead and in managing an agile organisation. I found the quality, designs, predictability and productivity improved so much that I decided to dedicate my career to learning, advancing and disseminating these techniques. In 2009 I started as a freelance trainer, team coach, and eventually agile transformation lead. To date I’ve worked with over 50 organisations, assessing pain points and challenges, briefing executives and mapping transformation plans, training teams and coaching Scrummasters and Agile Change Leads.

Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?

My career to date has always involved software development, and working with technical folks from product managers and designers to programmers, testers and technical operations. So I speak the language of the people I work with, and I understand their strengths and frustrations. But I’ve also worked in senior management, designing work systems, engaging and motivating teams, developing leadership, focusing on maximising value. My early work in Lean systems, and later Agile, has served me well, with nearly all my client engagements resulting from word of mouth due to a strong reputation in the Irish IT sector.

1 min pitch for what you are doing now?

For companies rolling out Lean and Agile, I provide executive education and consultancy, team training/coaching and ongoing support. For example, I’ve worked with global financial services and ICT (e.g. AXA, Intel), indigenous SME’s (Fleetmatics and PaddyPower) and even start-ups (Storyful, NewsWhip). About 50% of my time is classroom based training – it is essential to give everyone a baseline understanding of what agile is (it is usually misunderstood!). I’ve developed a broad set of training classes to support long term, whole enterprise agile adoptions: Executive training, Team training in Scrum and Kanban, ScrumMaster and Product Owner, Scaling frameworks such as SAFe® (Scaled Agile Framework) and so on.

What are the training courses you are delivering for Ammeon?

Any organisation embarking on a serious Agile transformation needs foundational training to baseline everyone’s understanding of concepts, roles and frameworks such as Scrum and Kanban. These are my Team Primer courses, which focus on Scrum or Kanban as appropriate Scrummasters and Product Owners usually need extra support – we can offer certified training for both these. And some more advanced support such as Scaled Agile Framework® training for Teams, Agile Leaders, Advanced ScrumMasters, etc. You can see full descriptions at

What do people learn from doing these courses?

One of the most important takeaways is a shared understanding of what agile is all about – the basic concepts. Too often, frameworks like Scrum are seen as just a way to chop up big projects into little pieces and deliver them bit by bit. But the whole concept of agile is to manage the uncertainty inherent in Software Development projects by leveraging self-organising teams and rapid feedback loops. This demands a deep cultural change and can radically alter how IT interfaces with other parts of the business – primarily product management but also finance, governance, leadership. So as well as showing people how frameworks like Scrum and Kanban work, I also hope to give them a sense of what it is to ‘be agile’ and not just how to ‘do agile’. And I have plenty of ‘war stories’ to illustrate how agile works in real world scenarios.

How do you remain up to date and an expert in your field?

Agile is a relatively new way of working, and is still evolving rapidly. I read a huge amount, everything from the physiology of decision making, to team dynamics, to systems and queueing theory and knowledge creation and innovation. Being involved in active discussion forums, and attending and speaking at conferences, meet-ups, etc is also useful. For the last 6 years I’ve organised Irelands biggest agile conference (AgileTour Dublin – this year 5th Oct) where some of my clients relate their agile experiences. There is no better way than to work closely with real teams developing real software using what you’ve taught them.That’ss where you learn whats really practical, whats really useful. As someone once said, ‘In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is.”

How can people book the courses?

Just contact Ammeon on the web, or phone us on +353 1 645 2300

Anything else you’d like to add, we should have asked?

I’d just add a word of caution to those looking at a DIY approach to agile adoption – it can work in very small teams (5-6) but invariably I find good quality training and some embedded coaching by experienced experts are needed to push through the mindset and cultural changes required to succeed. Too many companies invest too little in a half-hearted approach to agile – it is a major change initiative and requires appropriate resourcing and expertise. But when done properly, there results can be game-changing, with huge improvements in innovation, productivity, employee satisfaction and quality.

How can people find out more about you?

My linkedIn page is where you’ll find more details about me, or drop me a note at [email protected]

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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